294. Letter from President Carter to Paraguayan President Stroessner1

Dear Mr. President:

Thank you for your offer to receive my personal representatives to observe Paraguay’s February 12 general elections.2

I appreciate the spirit in which you have made the offer, but elections are essentially an internal affair. The presence of special envoys from another country could only be misinterpreted by the world at [Page 841] large, even though the visit took place at the request of the host government.

These considerations lead me to decline your offer regretfully—but I do have an informal suggestion that you may wish to consider. You might achieve the same end by offering the international press full access to the electoral campaign, election day voting, and the counting of ballots. I should imagine that such access would attract the United States press, as well as others.

Your reference to our conversation last September brings to mind another point—the setting of a date for the Inter-American Human Rights Commission’s visit to Paraguay. Naturally this is a matter to be resolved by your government and the Commission. But you will recall that we spoke together of our urgent interest in this matter.3 And the recent visits of Commission teams to Panama and El Salvador4 are encouraging signs of a growing appreciation of the Commission’s value to the Inter-American system. My own Administration continues to support strongly the protection and enhancement of human rights everywhere, and the Commission’s role is of great importance to the future well-being of the hemisphere in this regard.

I did appreciate the reminder of your earlier offer on the election, and I hope you will understand my reasons for not accepting.5


Jimmy Carter
  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, President’s Correspondence with Foreign Leaders File, Box 16, Paraguay: President Alfredo Stroessner, 3/77-2/80. No classification marking.
  2. Stroessner’s January 16 letter to Carter is in the Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, President’s Correspondence with Foreign Leaders File, Paraguay: President Alfredo Stroessner, 3/77-2/80.
  3. See Document 290.
  4. The IAHRC visited Panama from November 29–December 7, 1977, and El Salvador on January 18, 1978.
  5. In telegram 693 from Asuncion, Feburary 20, White reported on a conversation with Stroessner that day: “When he came to the visit of the IAHRC he was vague and said no more than that the Minister of Foreign Affairs was negotiating with the Commission now. He did not say about what. When I pressed him he said the IAHRC should as a top priority investigate the atrocities now being committed in Colombia. He then told me ‘not to worry, that all would be arranged.’” White concluded, “it might be prudent to conclude the Paraguayans either are still playing games or that Stroessner has not yet made up his mind.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780077-0567)