247. Memorandum From Acting Secretary of State Christopher to President Carter1

[Omitted here is material unrelated to Colombia.]

Colombia. Colombia is about to initiate an offensive against drug traffickers which will, for the first time, involve the Colombian military. The effort will begin by seeking to interdict the substantial export of cocaine and marijuana to the U.S. from the Guajira Peninsula area. To make the offensive possible, we signed an agreement last week to provide $1.3 million in non-lethal supplies.2 The vigor of this initiative will indicate the depth of the Turbay Administration’s commitment to the anti-drug effort.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Subject File, Box 20, Evening Reports (State), 10/78. Secret. Carter initialed the memorandum and wrote “Warren” in the top right-hand corner.
  2. Carter placed a check mark in the margin next to this paragraph. In telegram 235459 to Bogota, September 16, the Department instructed the Embassy to “make a determined effort to compile as complete a report as possible” about the campaign. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780377-1168) In telegram 8944 from Bogota, September 19, Asencio wrote: “The Colombian military is extremely sensitive to the possibility of being criticized for accepting U.S. assistance for the Guajira operation. This was the reason why the decision was made not to use U.S. personnel or U.S. military equipment.” Asencio recommended that the USG “should make an extreme effort to take into account Colombian military sensitivities and not be the ones who promote congressional and media focus on Colombian military actions.” He concluded, “If all goes well, the events will speak for themselves and I see no need to stir the pot.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780385-0317)