242. Telegram From the Embassy in Colombia to the Department of State1

5809. Subject: Meeting With President Lopez

1. Meeting between President Lopez, Dr. Bourne, and Ms. Falco was cordial and brought assurances on both sides of increased cooperation in joint narcotics control efforts. President Lopez responded very positively to the overall suggestion of enhanced cooperation at a higher and sustained level on the narcotics issue.

2. President Lopez expressed his thanks for personal letter from President Carter, which he read immediately.2 He then raised problem of delays in implementing earlier phases of narcotics control program, specifically citing failure to conclude helicopter contract,3 but recognizing that both sides were responsible for raising obstacles. He also noted that Colombia because of its respect for human rights cannot move as easily as military dictatorships against narcotics problems.

3. Dr. Bourne stressed the interdependent nature of the drug problem. He and Ms. Falco proposed creation of high-level joint commission to coordinate drug control efforts and to exchange intelligence. President Lopez said he would instruct Foreign Minister Lievano who will be in New York at Law of Seas Conference meet with Secretary Vance in Washington to discuss composition of such a commission.4 Lopez subsequently said he thought that the lead at the working level should be taken by Ambassador Barco who would work with officials in Washington in establishing the overall composition of the commission. He also said that he would consider appointing a legal attache specifi [Page 711] cally for liaison in narcotics. Perhaps meeting of Foreign Minister Lievano, Vance, Bardo, Bourne and Falco could be arranged second week of July.5

4. Dr. Bourne then raised corruption issue, explaining President Carter has list of Colombian Officials involved, and that he would provide information for Lopez if latter desired. Lopez interrupted with strong expression of interest in being informed. Bourne continued that information was highly sensitive and varied in quality but that a private briefing for Lopez could be given by representatives of intelligence community so that Lopez could personally evaluate the information. Lopez responded that Colombian Intelligence indicated only low level official involvement, and that their own intelligence gathering capability was weak but that in some communities, such as Santa Marta, the whole community was involved. At conclusion of meeting Lopez asked specifically how intelligence briefing would be arranged.6 It was added that arrangements would be made through Washington and the appointment with Lopez would then be coordinated through chargé here.

5. Lopez raised problem of prosecuting traffickers who are citizens of the other country involved, saying that expulsion from country without prosecution was no solution, and asked if there was possibility of prosecution in home country where actual offense had not been committed. Bourne and Falco cited possibility of indictments under U.S. conspiracy laws and agreed to explore legal problems involved.7

6. Detailed memorandum of conversation will follow.8

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, North/South, Pastor, Country Files, Box 9, Colombia, 4-8/77. Confidential; Immediate. Forwarded to Bourne, with Carter’s comments, under a June 24 covering memorandum from Brzezinski. (Ibid.)
  2. See Document 241.
  3. In a June 3 memorandum to Carter, Vance wrote that the continued delay in delivery of the three helicopters “was occasioned by recent intelligence reports indicating that Colombian government officials are extensively involved in cocaine trafficking and that corruption is proving a serious obstacle in the narcotics interdiction effort in that country.” Next to that paragraph, Carter wrote, “I agree.” (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Subject File, Box 18, Evening Reports [State], 6/77)
  4. In the right margin next to this sentence, Carter wrote, “Bourne give brief to Vance.” Vance and Lievano met on June 15 at the OAS meeting in Grenada, but a record of a later meeting between them was not found. (Vance-Lievano memcon, circa 6/15/77; National Archives, RG 59, Office of the Secretariat Staff, Records of Cyrus Vance, Secretary of State, 1977–1980, Lot 80D135, OAS meeting June 14–17 1977 Grenada)
  5. See Document 243.
  6. Carter underlined and highlighted this sentence and wrote in the right-hand margin, “ok–Give names but assess quality of intelligence cautiously.”
  7. Carter highlighted this sentence and wrote in the right-hand margin, “Get Bell to help,” a reference to Attorney General Griffin Bell.
  8. Telegram 5899 from Bogota, June 24. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770227-0320)