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

241478. Subject: Message for President Perez From President Carter

1. Dear President Perez: We have had reports during the night that Panama is planning an attack on Nicaragua, perhaps with Venezuelan assistance.2

2. Such action would be a tragic mistake. Not only would it cause bloodshed and suffering but it would lead to destructive armed clashes between nations of this hemisphere and threaten international strife. Such action would have a devastatingly adverse effect on our bilateral relations and could undo all we have sought to achieve in the hemisphere.

3. The United States has asked other nations to join in a mediation effort in Nicaragua. We are urgently pressing this effort. Ambassador Jordan expects to see General Somoza within the next forty eight hours with respect to this effort. Attack by your forces would prevent the mediation effort from going forward and interfere with our determined efforts to find an enduring peaceful solution. It is essential that you abandon any plans you may have for military intervention and allow this mediation process to have a chance to succeed.

4. In the strongest terms I urge that no military action be taken against Nicaragua.

5. Even if Venezuelan forces are not directly involved an attack by Panama would tend to involve you and reflect adversely on your country because of the associations which are well known. Therefore, if your country is not directly involved I urge you to contact General Torrijos and warn him of the adverse consequences of his reported actions.


  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P840137-1777. Secret; Flash; Exdis Distribute as Nodis. Sent for information immediate to the White House. Drafted by Christopher; cleared by Vaky; approved in S/S-O.
  2. See Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. XV, Central America, Document 103.
  3. In telegram 9022 from Caracas, September 22, the Embassy reported that Chargé Crowley delivered the message to Acting Foreign Minister Nava Carrillo at 10:30 that morning. Nava transmitted the message to Perez and dictated Perez’s reply to Crowley, which said in part: “I have no knowledge of any plan by the chief of government of Panama regarding any military action affecting Nicaragua, and in my conversations with General Torrijos he has not even insinuated to me such a possibility.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P850101-1915)