342. Letter From President Carter to Venezuelan President Perez1

Dear Mr. President:

I deeply regretted the need to postpone my visit to Venezuela,2 but I am delighted that it will be convenient for you to receive me sometime during the early spring.

Since I will not have an opportunity to discuss with you later this month the question of world oil prices, I have asked Secretary Vance to raise the issue directly on my behalf.3

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I have become increasingly concerned in recent months over the outlook for the global economy. Although the U.S. is in better condition than some others, it is proving difficult to make reductions in both inflation and unemployment. At the same time, we are now experiencing a large and growing trade deficit which is causing a threatening increase in protectionist sentiment in our country.

I believe it is essential that we work together over the critical months to come. At the forthcoming Caracas meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries,4 I would like to urge your government to join with other leading nations in freezing the price of oil at least through 1978. As one of the largest producers of oil, we could work with you and others in promoting the development of alternate sources of energy, conserving oil and gas, and providing for a realistic and more predictable energy price structure in future years.

As you know, we have begun to make some progress in reducing international economic problems, but any price increase at this critical juncture would further reduce growth in developed and developing countries and would make more difficult the worldwide struggle against inflation. It would add to the problems of balance-of-payments adjustment, fostering protectionist pressures everywhere and possibly jeopardizing the stability of key currencies and of the international financial system.

From our earlier talks, I know how sensitive you are to the critical role of energy and energy prices in the world economy. I realize that a price freeze will require Venezuela and other oil exporters to forego short-term gains. But I pledge to you my continuing resolve to evolve an effective energy policy for my own nation and to work with you to ensure a restoration of vigorous, non-inflationary world economic growth which will make possible progress for all nations.

I am deeply gratified that the state of relations between our countries is such that it can permit frank discussion regarding the pressing concerns that face us. I look forward to hearing from Secretary Vance about his conversations with you as soon as he returns to Washington.5


Jimmy Carter
  1. Source: 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. No classification marking.
  2. Carter was scheduled to visit Venezuela in late November, but postponed the trip until March 1978. See Documents 336 and 337. In telegram 264749 to Caracas, November 5, the Department transmitted a message from Carter to Perez announcing the trip’s postponement. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P840070-0384)
  3. Vance met with Perez in Caracas on November 23; the Embassy reported on their talks in telegrams 11456 and 11457 from Caracas, November 25. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770438-0145 and D770438-0037) See also Foreign Relations, 1969–76, vol. XXXVII, Energy Crisis, 1974–1980, footnote 7, Document 138. In telegram 11117 from Caracas, November 15, the Embassy reported on Vaky’s November 14 demarche to Perez regarding oil prices. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770422-1185)
  4. For the U.S. strategy toward OPEC countries prior to their meeting in Caracas on December 20, see Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. XXXVII, Energy Crisis, 1974–1980, Documents 130 and 136.
  5. See Document 343.