332. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Venezuela1

39828. Subject: President Carter’s Letter to President Perez

1. Deliver following letter from President Carter directly to President Perez as early as possible.

2. Begin quote: Dear Mr. President: I have seen your statement rejecting and condemning press reports alleging that you have received payments from the Central Intelligence Agency.2 These allegations against you have distressed me deeply.

I want to express to you my personal regret and that of my Government for any embarrassment that these press stories may have caused you, your Government, or the people of Venezuela. As you know, I have no control over the news media in our country, and I cannot prevent these groundless assertions about you. You can appreciate the concern they have caused this administration which has dedicated itself to forging stronger ties with those nations in the world today that share our democratic values.

You, Mr. President, an independent and vigorous defender of Venezuela’s interests, of the nations of Latin America, of OPEC and of the Third World, are one of the most respected and formidable leaders in the world today. That you were freely elected and that you govern an open society adds enormously to our respect for you and your Government.

[Page 942]

I hope and trust that these malicious stories—which should not even be dignified by direct comment—will not cast a shadow over the important future that we will share.

Sincerely, Jimmy Carter End quote.

3. State Department has no plans to release text of letter but has no objection if GOV wishes to do so.3

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770061-1264. Limited Official Use; Niact Immediate; Exdis. Drafted by Jacobini from text received from the White House; cleared in S/S; approved by Luers.
  2. On February 19, the New York Times reported that “cash payments had been made” to a number of foreign leaders, including Perez “when he was Interior Minister of Venezuela.” (David Binder, “More Heads of State are Reported to Have Received C.I.A. Payments,” New York Times, February 19, 1977, p. 9) In a February 21 memorandum to Carter, Brzezinski wrote: “President Perez issued an extraordinarily tough statement claiming that the allegations could only be part of a U.S. Government plot to attack him because of his defense of Venezuela’s natural resources and his posture in OPEC and in the North-South dialogue. He said that he doesn’t see how such information could have been released without the knowledge of high officials in the U.S. Government, and he has asked our Ambassador to request from you some kind of a clarifying statement denying Perez was a CIA agent and expressing confidence in him.” (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, President’s Correspondence with Foreign Leaders File, Box 21, Venezuela: President Carlos Andres Perez, 2/77-5/78)
  3. In telegram 1883 from Caracas, February 23, Vaky reported that he delivered the letter to Perez on February 22, and that the “text of the message will probably be released publicly by GOV during the day today.” (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, North/South, Pastor, Country Files, Box 46, Venezuela, 2-5/77)