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

261898. Subject: GOP Reaction to Somoza Assassination. Ref: Asuncion 4012 and Previous.2

1. Confidential–Entire text.

2. Department appreciates reporting on GOP actions in aftermath of Somoza assassination. We understand the need to take decisive action in the wake of this terrorist incident, but we are concerned that overreaction by GOP security forces could result in reverses in first category human rights gains made to date and increase perception of [Page 846] climate of fear among Paraguayans and foreign residents.3 We note that European missions in Asuncion are also concerned over indiscriminate detentions.

3. Ambassador requested to communicate USG concern to Interior Minister Montanaro at time he deems appropriate, drawing on following points:4

—The United States Government deplores this act of violence perpetrated on Paraguayan soil and supports appropriate efforts to bring those responsible to justice.

—However, we hope that security forces will exercise all due restraint in the pursuit of their duties, recognizing the damage that could be done to Paraguay’s international image and to attempts to improve the political atmosphere within Paraguay should there be a reversal in category I human rights improvements.

—We hope that authorities and residents understand what documentation is required, that individuals lacking papers but clearly above suspicion not be harassed, and persons presently detained be released as quickly as their identity can be established.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800468-0103. Confidential; Immediate. Drafted in ARA, cleared in ARA and HA, approved by Eaton.
  2. In telegram 4012 from Asuncion, September 26, the Embassy reported on the Paraguayan investigation into the September 17 assassination of Somoza in Asuncion. Paraguayan police had identified seven people who took part, but the Embassy noted: “the Paraguayan police may not be as certain of the identities of the alleged assassins as they claim to be.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800460-0801)
  3. In telegram 3963 from Asuncion, September 24, the Embassy reported that the Paraguayan military had joined police in orchestrating “a massive dragnet” to locate Somoza’s assassins, which included roadblocks and “a door-to-door search throughout the city of Asuncion going from one neighborhood to another.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800457-0843)
  4. In telegram 4078, October 1, the Embassy reported that Lane had “conveyed the substance of the first two ticks” to Montanaro on September 23. The Embassy also reported that it had “been pursuing tick three concerns at lower levels in both ministries of foreign affairs and interior.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800469-0279)