339. Telegram From the Embassy in Venezuela to the Department of State1

7803. Subject: Exchange of Information on Cuban Exile Terrorists. Ref: (A) Caracas 7549 and State 8107.2

1. To assist in your consideration of CAP’s request for intelligence exchange, I wanted to outline the following conditioning circumstances:

2. A. The Cuban Embassy here has launched what seems to us to be a major and sustained campaign to pass information to CAP and the GOV security apparatus on Cuban exile activity. [1 line not declassified]3 So far as we know this is both recent and still a one-way street, i.e. gov has only received. But it has greatly heightened CAP’s legitimate concern and worry, since he is suspicious of the exiles anyway.

3. CAP’s reaction to his worries about the exiles is to ask us for information and thus cooperation. Principally, of course, this is because the US is the locus of so much Cuban exile plotting and planning. But to some degree also it is a sincere bid for our assistance in a situation which—I repeat—really does worry him.

4. The effort of the DGI to pass this information is, in the circumstance, an interesting gambit. Playing as it does to legitimate fears of CAP, continued feeding of this information—especially if it is largely accurate—will create an acceptance of the channel and an according to it of legitimacy. If the Cubans were to obtain CAP’s confidence then one could speculate that the channel could then be used for other things, perhaps to tar anti-Castro but not terrorist Cubans, or even for disinformation.

5. The main point, though, is that the Cuban effort puts added pressure on us to respond to CAP’s requests. If the Cubans pass information and we fail to respond to GOV requests, CAP’s suspicions and [Page 970] paranoia will be aroused. [less than 1 line not declassified] If we drag our feet or respond in meaningless ways, the same result could occur. I might note parenthetically that on three different occasions in the last two weeks, DISIP has asked [less than 1 line not declassified] for information on Cuban exiles in the US. [less than 1 line not declassified] I understand that it cannot pass such information on persons in the US—but neither have we been able to be forthcoming either, mainly because we have no channel or agreed ground rules for such a provision of information.

6. In short, I believe that the Cuban/DGI effort does increase the importance of our responding meaningfully to CAP’s overall request.

7. B. On the other extreme is the fact that ex-Cubans are in key places in the Venezuelan security apparatus, and there is no way to avoid their participation in or knowledge of such exchanges. It is important though to understand their nature. The key figure here is Orlando Garcia. Garcia’s loyalties are personal, and to CAP. He knows most of the Cubans, but he is not himself involved with the exile groups. There is some risk that information given to DISIP will become known by the Cuban exile groups, but not I believe deliberately leaked to them. More risky is that exiles will simply become aware that we are passing information with some danger of consequent retailiation against this Embassy.

8. C. Information passed on this subject should, in my view, be passed through FBI-LEGATT channel [less than 1 line not declassified].

9. In sum, I believe that we must respond quickly in some kind of meaningful way. I think it would be useful and that we could develop a two-way flow of information. I think the channel should be the LEGATT. What we now need to do is define our own ground rules—taking into account the above caveats—of what kind of information to pass and when, and how to respond to specific requests from them. The general question of information exchange came up in Propper’s conversation with Rivas Vasquez and Garcia, and he will have specific impressions and suggestions.4

  1. Source: Department of State, INR/IL Historical Files, Roger Channel, Caracas, 1963–79. Secret; Roger; Priority.
  2. In telegram 7549 from Caracas, July 30, Vaky reported that Perez had given him “a folder of material which he said was documentation on Cuban exile plotting for a terror campaign against Venezuelan personalities and institutions,” and that “in cooperating on the Letelier case and in providing the information he had just given me, he wanted to take the first step in institutionalizing an information exchange.” Vaky asked “that we decide urgently on how we are to respond to the president’s basic request.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770274-0242) Telegram 8107 from the Department is misnumbered; in telegram 181773 to Caracas, August 3, ARA officials wrote: “we are working on how to respond to CAP’s request for institutionalizing information exchange on Cuban exile terrorists.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770278-0121)
  3. [Less than 1 line not declassified]
  4. No record of this conversation was found. In telegram 264677 to Caracas, November 4, the Department transmitted the draft text of a “U.S.-GOV agreement on information exchange and mutual assistance in criminal cases” and asked for the Embassy’s comment. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770407-1019)