264. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Colombia1

315451. Subject: Secretary’s Meeting With Foreign Minister Uribe November 22, 1980.

1. Confidential Entire Text.

2. Secretary met with Colombian Foreign Minister Diego Uribe for approximately one half hour on November 22, 1980 for review of US-Colombian relations. Minister Uribe was accompanied by Ambassador Eastman and Ambassador Bernal (OAS). Ambassador Bowdler and Desk Officer Heaphy were present.

3. Secretary Muskie began by expressing his regrets that he would not be able to travel to Colombia as Secretary of State. He stressed that the US has neglected to pay proper attention to Latin America but praised the mutually beneficial relations currently existing between the US and Colombia. Referring to Colombia’s leadership in promoting democracy, the Secretary asked for Colombia’s views on Bolivia and other critical areas in Latin America.

4. After inviting the Secretary to visit Colombia in a private capacity, Uribe praised the Secretary’s speech before the OAS.2 However, he added that although the human rights emphasis was good, democratic governments have not profited much from the US because of their good records. Uribe stressed that we must build on human rights to include more emphasis on economic rights.

5. Uribe raised the Quita Sueno Treaty issue and urged that one of the Secretary’s last acts be that of resolving the Quita Sueno problem. He emphasized that the GOC would like to see the issue concluded before the new US administration began. The Secretary replied that we have sent the letter answering questions raised during the hearings3 to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and that he would follow up with a personal appeal to the Committee to act on the Treaty. (It [Page 759] was clarified later to Ambassador Eastman that the letter had not yet left the Department but that it was expected that it would be sent during the week of November 24.4) Uribe said it would be a “brilliant” way to end the Carter Administration. The Secretary cautioned that there were still obstacles to getting Senate action, most important of which was the lameduck period of the session.

6. The Secretary inquired about Colombia’s role in Central America and the Caribbean. Uribe referred to previous meetings with Asst. Sec. Bowdler5 in which the GOC had reviewed its relations and activities with countries such as El Salvador and Guatemala. However, he said that the real need is to find a mechanism for financial assistance in economic and social areas for those countries which are threatened by leftist guerrillas. He mentioned President Turbay’s Peace Fund proposal which he said would require some funding. In sum, he said Colombia was disposed to help. The Secretary agreed but said that the US Congress, reflecting perhaps a lack of understanding on the part of the American people on the direct connection between assistance and peace, was unwilling to provide adequate funds. Uribe reiterated that quick expenditure in social assistance was the key ingredient needed.

7. The Secretary then complimented the GOC for its excellent cooperation in narcotics interdiction and expressed his pleasure that the $16 million pro-ag was almost signed.6 Minister Uribe stated that the Turbay administration had been making great progress in the area and cited the prosecution of traffickers and the US—Colombian extradition treaty recently ratified by the Colombian Congress. He stated that “with or without your money” Colombia was proceeding against drug trafficking, because it was committed to do so. He listed the narcotics cooperation agreements Colombia has already signed with Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic and Honduras.

8. On Bolivia, Uribe said that the most serious problem was that Garcia Meza was so shameless that he had not even promised elections but instead had spoken of a 20 year dictatorship. Uribe said however, that Garcia Meza might be obliged to announce elections, which Colom [Page 760] bia would view as a good development. Alternatively, he said we (presumably Colombia) would have to continue urging Bolivia to return to democracy even though this would be a “Sisyphean undertaking.”

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800567-0448. Confidential; Immediate; Exdis. Sent for information to La Paz, Quito, Caracas, Lima, and Managua. Drafted by Heaphy, cleared in ARA/AND, S/S, S/S-O and by Eaton; approved by Bowdler.
  2. For the text of Muskie’s November 19th remarks, see the Department of State Bulletin, January 1981, pp. 33–36.
  3. The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations held hearings on the Quita Sueno treaty on December 4, 1979. (Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Nominations of Sol M. Linowitz and Gerald B. Helman; To Hear Administration Testimony on Ex. A, 93-1: Treaty with the Republic of Colombia Concerning the Status of Quita Sueno, Roncador, and Serrana, 96th Cong., 1st sess., December 4, 1979, p. 1-108)
  4. Not found.
  5. Bowdler visited Colombia in August 1980 and met with Turbay and other Colombian leaders. (Telegram 8567 from Bogota, August 12, National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800384-1164)
  6. In telegram 157 from Bogota, January 9, 1981, the Embassy reported that the project agreement was signed in November and summarized the US-Colombian anti-narcotics program. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D810013-1129)