291. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Paraguay1

243500. Subject: Foreign Minister Nogues Meeting With the Acting Secretary

1. The Department (ECA-Zimmerman) informed Ambassador Lopez Escobar on October 42 that the inter-agency group, because of its assessment of the human rights situation in Paraguay was not inclined to give blanket approval for future loans but rather to consider them as they come up in the light of the human rights situation then prevailing. Subsequently, Foreign Minister Nogues spoke with Assistant Secretary Todman in New York on October 63 and then called on Acting Secretary Christopher here on October 7. He clearly wanted the appointment with the Acting Secretary in order to be able to explain to President Stroessner that he had heard our position from the highest levels of the Department.

2. Minister Nogues described his visit as a courtesy call but noted that he wished to talk with the Acting Secretary about bilateral relations prior to returning to Asuncion on October 10. He understood there were difficulties with Paraguayan loans because of information received from Asuncion regarding recent cases of human rights violations.

3. The Minister referred to the bilateral conversation between Presidents Carter and Stroessner and the possible visit of the IAHRC. He stated the understanding between the two Presidents was that a visit date would be set up by the GOP and the IAHRC.4 He added that it was [Page 835] his understanding that Secretary Vance agreed with this arrangement.5 Also, the Minister observed, the Commission might decide not to go to Paraguay once they have studied the GOP reply. In any event, the GOP is going to await the IAHRC reaction to its reply before fixing any visit date.

4. Nogues next stated that he had understood that any delay of the IAHRC in reaching a decision would have no adverse affect on Paraguayan loan applications. The Minister added that he was informed by his Ambassador that such was not the case—that, in fact, Ambassador Lopez Escobar had been notified that some pending loans were not being approved because of some adverse news received by the Department from his country.

5. Mr. Christopher responded that he wished to put the matter in a broader context in order that the Minister understand the way we operate in this complex and sensitive area. The U.S. Congress has laid down a strong policy governing the U.S. posture in supporting loans by the International Financial Institutions. President Carter has endorsed this action by the Congress and is personally committed to it. We are bound to consider the condition of human rights in the countries receiving our assistance and support. The Department, in consultation with other agencies of Government such as Treasury, attempts to apply this consideration in a constructive and evenhanded way.

6. The Acting Secretary stated that he wanted to give this prelude to the specific discussion because some countries think they are being singled out. With respect to Paraguay, we do not apply our criteria on the basis of fragmentary bits of information from those hostile to the Government. Rather, our assessment of the human rights situation at any given time is drawn upon by experts in the Department, Embassy evaluations and a variety of other sources.

7. Mr. Christopher then noted that he was pleased by the unequivocal Paraguayan agreement to receive the IAHRC if they desire to visit that country. We understand the visit would take place after the national elections in February 1978, within a relative brief period thereafter if the IAHRC desired to go. He recalled having met President Stroessner at the airport when Stroessner came for the Panama Canal Treaty signing. Because of the agreement concerning the IAHRC, which [Page 836] we regarded as an encouraging sign of human rights improvement, we were able to approve three aid loans, two aid grants and one IDB grant, which in their totality are substantial.

8. As future loans are presented, Christopher continued, we will take into consideration events at that time. Before the IAHRC visit we will continue to have a problem in approving loans—our decision making will be considerably aided when we do have the IAHRC report that would result from the proposed inspection visit.

9. The Acting Secretary next stated that he regretted the U.S. could not go ahead with the FY 77 FMS credit agreement.6 The monies involved in this program were small, and we considered that the loans we had approved were more important to Paraguay. Future FMS programs will depend on circumstances involving the disposition of our Congress and the human rights situation at that time.

10. Minister Nogues replied that he understood it was very helpful for the Minister to know how we evaluate information received. He requested that our evaluation process include the GOP interpretation of events. The Minister specifically referred to asylees in the Peruvian and other Embassies in Asuncion. He observed that their not having received exit permits might appear to outsiders as an infringement of human rights. If this is the case, he would like to spend some time in explaining the GOP position.

11. The Acting Secretary replied that, as this was the first he had heard of the asylees, it obviously had no affect on the loan decisions made to date. Christopher added that with Robert White having now received his agreement, he would be looking forward to White’s evaluation reports. He again assured the Minister that the Department has the ability to conduct sophisticated analysis of the human rights situation.

12. The Minister replied that he had confidence in Christopher and the Department. He knew he would be able to work well with Ambassador White, who is a good servant of the U.S. in closing, Christopher returned to the question of loan approval. He stated that the worst thing that could happen would be for the Minister to depart with a misunderstanding of our policy. In the interregnum until an IAHRC visit takes place, we will assess the information available and make the most even-handed judgment that we can in determining our voting position on any loans that may come up. The Acting Secretary stated that he has great confidence in Ambassador White, and would remind him, though it is hardly necessary, to obtain a copy of the GOP [Page 837] reply to the IAHRC. Minister Nogues replied that his door would be open to White, and the Acting Secretary said that our door is likewise open to Ambassador Lopez Escobar.

13. We have agreed to Nogues’ subsequent request to give him a copy of our memcon. Though he did not say so, it is obvious he wants the U.S. record so that Stroessner can see our position (and his defense of Paraguay) in black and white. Please, therefore, deliver to Nogues as a note verbale, the text of paragraphs two through twelve. You should indicate this is in compliance with his request.7

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770369-0899. Confidential. Drafted by Graham, cleared in ARA and S/S, approved by Christopher.
  2. Not found.
  3. Not found.
  4. See Document 290.
  5. In telegram 237026 to Asuncion, October 1, the Department reported that in a September 29 conversation with Nogues at the UN, Vance said “that he was very pleased to learn about Paraguay’s agreement with the IAHRC. The agreement to permit an IAHRC visit would be helpful to the US on the question of supporting certain Paraguayan loan applications. The Secretary stated that he hoped that a date will soon be fixed for the IAHRC visit.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770359-0007)
  6. Reference is to the action memorandum from ARA, HA, and PM through T to Christopher, September 29, 1977; National Archives, RG 59, Bureau of Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs, Lot 80D177, HA Subject and Country Files, 1976–77, Human Rights—Paraguay, 1977, June-December. See Document 289.
  7. In telegram 281155 to Asuncion, November 24, McNeil advised White that the Department had “agreed to support several loans for Paraguay in the IFI context because of Paraguay’s agreement to receive the Inter-American Human Rights Commission and basic human needs factors” but that it had “deferred action on others.” He instructed White to tell Nogues that “we are currently reviewing other loan proposals but are not in a position to vote for them if they were to come up immediately. We think it would be in Paraguay’s interest to hold them up for the time being pending our review of the total Paraguayan loans picture in the IFIs.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770435-1029)