253. Telegram From Secretary of State Vance’s Delegation to the Department of State1

10013. Subject: The Secretary’s Meeting With Colombian Foreign Minister Diego Uribe Vargas.

1. Summary: The Secretary, accompanied by Amb Vaky and Robert Pastor (NSC) met with Colombian Foreign Minister Uribe at the Ambassador’s Residence in La Paz on October 22. Principal subjects discussed were the proposed Fund for Peace, the Colombian candidacy for the UN Security Council seat and the future of the OAS. End summary.

2. Foreign Minister Uribe opened the meeting by stating that his government has great hopes that the Fund for Peace, which was proposed by President Turbay in his discussions with Vice President Mondale in Panama,2 will soon be functioning. He explained that the Fund is intended to be a multilateral initiative designed to support the democratic countries in the region and to stimulate the non-democratic countries to move towards democracy. Many countries would participate, but it would be preferable for the Fund to be administered by the countries in the International Development Bank (IDB) to avoid bureaucratic overlap. The Fund would focus in particular on grant loans for social action, infrastructure and development. Loans would be available to the democratic countries, to those countries in the process of becoming democracies (e.g. El Salvador and Guatemala) and to those many countries which want to work toward democracy. The loans would be primarily for social action purposes within the recipient countries.

3. The Secretary asked what was the best way to move forward on this Fund—by including it in the ongoing dialogue in the OAS, by discussions among a smaller group of countries which already have a democratic background, or by some other means? Uribe replied that there are two possibilities. If the Fund is to be a part of the new dimension of the ongoing dialogue, then a few democratic countries could start it up first. If, on the other hand, it is to be an isolated initiative, it could be discussed in the OAS as a means of supporting social change towards a greater transformation of societies.

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4. Amb Vaky suggested that if the Fund were to be administered by the staff of the Inter-American Bank, it might be useful to discuss this with Ortiz-Mena to see what his recommendations might be from a technical point of view. Uribe replied that, in order to avoid duplication of effort, some of the countries would be within the Bank but would administer the Fund on behalf of all the member countries. The member countries would determine whether a loan would be made and then the Bank would in fact administer it.

5. Uribe said that the amount of money in the Fund would have to be determined later, but he envisioned an initial contribution followed by an increase after some time. He said it would look better if every democratic country contributed at least something to the Fund, as the fund would be more solid if more countries participated.

6. Mr. Pastor pointed out that both the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank presently make large-scale loans to Latin America, of which 40 pct is allocated to social action projects such as health, education, etc. He suggested that this fund should target money more specifically to projects designed to promote democratization. Uribe said that democratic needs are defined vis-a-vis public opinion. Democracy is favored intellectually and philosophically but does not always receive governmental support. We must set priorities, but in general, the Fund should make program and social development loans. Some countries have greater difficulties than others. The Caribbean countries, for example, are experiencing pressing needs affecting their very survival, while other areas need improvements in infrastructure, electrification, etc. But we must also consider the political defense of democracy. He said that the Colombians are feeling very anxious as a result of the changes taking place in Central America, which is close to the Colombian islands as well as its mainland.

7. When Amb Vaky asked how this proposed Fund would differ from the loans cited above, which are also social funds with political effects, Uribe responded that this fund must be geared to democratic countries, to those which are becoming democracies and to those which are on the verge of falling from democracy—in effect, an economic Red Cross. The Secretary commented that this would be more politically oriented than a banker’s fund, to which Uribe agreed.

8. Mr. Pastor commented that the above criteria would fit almost any country in Latin America, even Pinochet in Chile claims that he wants to move towards democracy. Uribe replied that the criteria for eligibility would have to be set by the countries administering the Fund. He commented that if everybody thought that helping Chile would be good, for example, then it would be done, though at this moment he did not think that would happen. He stressed again that the Fund would be used to support countries which otherwise would [Page 737] have no incentive not to take the wrong path. It would become a tool which would make it much easier to handle certain situations than with the traditional diplomatic tools available.

9. The Secretary then brought up the question of Colombia’s bid for the Latin American seat on the UN Security Council, asking where it stood and who we could help. Uribe said that Colombia had been working very hard on this and had contacted friendly countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. He thought they were doing very well, though more work would be necessary. Cuba is running scared and has asked to talk with the Colombians, but they have refused to do so, saying there will be no compromise and no prior agreements.

10. Uribe said that Colombia would like very much for Guatemala to withdraw its candidacy for the seat, as this is taking some commitments away from Colombia. He had not yet approached the Guatemalan delegation to the OAS on this, as they had not yet arrived in La Paz, but planned to do so. He asked that we also approach Guatemala and urge them to withdraw, which Amb Vaky said we would do.3

11. The Secretary commented that Amb Vaky had talked to the Colombian Permanent Representative to the UN in New York to discuss this issue, and was told that the Colombian Embassy in Kenya was having problems communicating with the Governments of Zambia and the Gambia. We have since sent instructions to our Embassies4 to approach these governments in support of the Colombian candidacy, and we have also talked to the Saudi Arabians, the Gulf States and several African Governments about it. The Secretary said that if Colombia would like us to approach any other governments about its candidacy, we would be more than happy to do so. Uribe thanked him and said he believed Colombia would be successful in its bid for the seat.5

12. The Secretary then said that he had been thinking about the discussion he had had with Uribe the previous evening about the OAS.6 He had been trying to think of a way to move the initiative forward, [Page 738] to do something to breathe new life into the organization so that it can deal with the issues which beset us all. He told Uribe that he planned to say something about this in his statement at the OAS the next day,7 stressing the importance of coming to grips with this set of issues.

13. Uribe said he found this very interesting because in the past, the importance of the OAS meetings lay in the juridical progress within the system—treaties, etc. Now the juridical progress is already advanced and the question for the OAS is that of grappling with the political and economic problems of the region, in effect, of updating the system. He suggested that one specific field of progress can be in the peaceful settlement of disputes, using conciliation, investigation and mediation. The region can contribute to this process across the board. It is very necessary, he said, to speed up the regional machinery for the diplomatic solution of minor disputes.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D790486-0164. Confidential; Immediate. Sent for information immediate to USUN and for information to Bogota. Vance was in La Paz for the OAS General Assembly meeting.
  2. See Document 49.
  3. See telegram 7082 from Guatemala City, October 24. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D790487-1061)
  4. In telegram 273141 to all African Diplomatic Posts, October 18, the Department instructed posts to “seek an opportunity to refer to these elections in the course of normal senior level foreign office contacts over the next few days. We leave it to the judgment of each post whether and how to allude to the forthcoming contested election.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D790478-0774)
  5. Voting in the UN General Assembly for the Security Council seat began on October 26. Neither Colombia nor Cuba received enough votes to be elected, and balloting continued through the end of 1979. Mexico was elected to the seat in January 1980. See Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. XXIII, Mexico, Cuba and the Caribbean, footnote 2, Document 169. (“Mexico Wins a U.N. Council Seat in Vote Viewed as Defeat for Cuba,” New York Times, January 8, 1980, p. A2)
  6. Not found.
  7. Vance’s October 23 statement, “Western Hemisphere: OAS General Assembly Convenes,” is in the Department of State Bulletin, December 1979, pp. 65–67.