241. Letter from President Carter to Colombian President Alfonso Lopez Michelsen1

Dear Mr. President:

Thank you for meeting with Rosalynn during her visit to Bogota.2 She has spoken with me about your discussions and we both found them useful and informative. We appreciate all your efforts to make her trip a success.

As you know, I have a deep personal concern, shared by the United States Congress and the American people, with the problems of drug abuse and illicit drug traffic. Like so many other problems that face us, drug abuse is global in nature and can be solved only through concerted international cooperation. Toward that end, I am making international drug abuse control a high priority of my Administration.

[Page 709]

I know that Rosalynn conveyed to you my great interest in improving our joint efforts to interdict the drug traffic, particularly because of the corrosive influence that drug-related corruption is having on our societies. I would appreciate receiving any information which you have regarding the involvement of United States citizens in the drug traffic, and I would like to share with you some information which has come to my attention indicating that a number of high officials in the Colombian Government, and several important political figures, may be benefitting directly or indirectly from the illicit drug traffic. I would be glad to have a complete briefing provided for your information, if you wish, at your convenience.3

I am concerned that future cooperation between our two countries will be jeopardized by this problem. Let me therefore propose that the two of us share our information and that we establish together a joint commission composed of representatives of the highest levels of our two governments, which will meet on a regular basis to maximize coordination between our two governments in dealing with the illicit drug traffic.

I hope that you will discuss with my personal representatives, Dr. Peter Bourne, my Special Assistant, and Ms. Mathea Falco, Senior Adviser to the Secretary of State and Coordinator for International Narcotics Matters, ways in which we can mutually strengthen our drug control efforts.4

I am particularly troubled that Colombia, whose democratic tradition and leadership on human rights I have long admired, might suffer in the forum of international opinion if the drug traffic is allowed to expand unchecked. I value our personal correspondence and hope that we can use it to strengthen our efforts at defeating the danger that drug abuse presents to both our societies.


Jimmy Carter
  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, President’s Correspondence with Foreign Leaders, Box 4, Colombia: President Alfonso Lopez Michelsen, 5/77-6/78. No classification marking.
  2. See Document 240.
  3. In telegram 143585 to Bogota, June 21, Luers advised Drexler that he had sent a memorandum to Vance which reported on a briefing by Bourne, Bensinger, and Falco regarding “the Colombia/cocaine problem” and “corruption: which ministers and high officials are involved and how much does Lopez Michelsen know himself. The President wanted to know what incentives Lopez Michelsen would have to deal with the corruption issue.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770221-0472) See related documents in Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. XXV, Global Issues; United Nations Issues, which is scheduled for publication.
  4. See Document 242.