354. Telegram From the Embassy in Venezuela to the Department of State and the Embassy in Nicaragua1

11688. Subj: Talk With President Perez on December 13. Ref: A) State 3131022 B) Managua 65473

1. (S–Entire Text)

2. President Perez emphatically reasserted to me this morning his position that he could only get G–12 and full FAO support for the mediation effort if Somoza announces publicly that he will accept a plebiscite decision and leave the country if he is defeated. He stressed, as he has before consistently over the last several weeks, that to achieve that public statement the US must bring more pressure than it has henceforth and probably the best way to do that is have the US declare itself in the OAS in favor of some type of sanctions. Even though such sanctions would not be effective or approved by the OAS, they would have the affect of clarifying the US policy toward Somoza argues Perez. To my suggestion that some might be confused about Perez’ position on Somoza’s departure taking place before the plebiscite, Perez assured me that he would like Somoza to leave prior to the plebiscite, but that this was, under no circumstances, a condition and he realized that it would be difficult if not impossible to achieve.

3. In reading Ref A, I am at a loss to determine how the Dept could possibly have misconstrued my repeated explanation of Perez’ belief that he can only get the G–12 involvement and full FAO support if Somoza says publicly that he would accept the terms of the plebiscite and leave if he loses. I have reported this clearly in numerous cables. Those closest at hand are Caracas 11451, Caracas 11499 and Caracas [Page 1027] 11610.4 Perez has said repeatedly that he would come out publicly forcefully and emphatically for the mediation effort if we could achieve this one result. Bill Bowdler’s response (Managua 6547) was very helpful and I agree with him that this issue will be a tough fight. As I have indicated before I believe we need to use whatever muscle we possibly have in that fight.

4. Action requested: Can the Dept give me anything more on CAP’s repeated requests for our position on using the IAHRC report as a basis for taking some initial steps against Somoza in the OAS or what other steps might we take to persuade Somoza to accept the plebiscite?5

5. In addition to our discussion about the key issues (above), CAP spoke to me philosophically and at length of his rationale for providing some support to the Sandinista movement. Quite frankly, his rationale was almost identical to what I had reported as my analysis of it (Caracas 11499). I told him that Pastora had put out some feelers for some contacts with US. Perez said obviously official contacts were inappropriate, but he strongly urged that we be in touch with him unofficially. Otherwise we will miss an option should our current efforts fail. Perez said that Pastora, for the time being, will probably continue to be the most effective leader of the FSLN and it would be tragic if Pastora and others found that the only recourse for arms and support was Fidel. He recalled his own meeting with Castro in 1960 when he was sent by President Betancourt to persuade Castro not to participate in actions against Trujillo. Castro at that time said that he had no armaments at all and was actually afraid of Trujillo’s military power. Perez said that the analogy is obviously not apt, but he still believes that Castro in 1960 was manageable and was driven into the Soviet camp primarily in search of arms. Perez is thinking more now about what would happen after his departure from the Presidency of Venezuela and urged that we not forget these lessons of history and not place all of our policy on one track which, even we admit, might not succeed, i.e. the plebiscite.

6. Perez said he had invited Torrijos to come to Caracas this weekend to try to get Torrijos to work with him to bring about continued FSLN restraint and to find ways to keep the FAO engaged in the mediation effort. He wants Torrijos to help him persuade the Sandinis [Page 1028] tas, at least, not to oppose the mediation. He also said he had talked again to Ramiro Cardenal who says the FAO is splitting up because we have failed to get Somoza to declare himself on the plebiscite.

7. Comment: Perez is still trying to be helpful, while keeping up the pressure on us. Anything the Dept or Bill Bowdler can give me in response to my request in para 4 I would appreciate.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P780187-2298. Secret; Immediate; Exdis Distribute as Nodis. Sent for information to Panama City and San Jose.
  2. Dated December 12. Vaky wrote: “There seems to be some doubt in Perez’ mind” “that Somoza will accept a defeat in the plebiscite and leave the country. My impression is that Somoza has agreed to that in principle with the details to be worked out.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P780187-2299)
  3. Dated December 13. Bowdler wrote: “Somoza indicated in his December 1 press conference that he was prepared to turn over the presidency to whoever is chosen by a constituent assembly to succeed him. Under the PLN plan such a constituent assembly would be held if Somoza lost the plebiscite. Somoza has made no repeat no public or private commitment yet to leave the country. On the contrary Somoza in the same press conference said he would not repeat not do so if defeated in the plebiscite.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P780187-2302)
  4. See Document 353. In telegram 11499 from Caracas, December 7, Luers analyzed Perez’s influence with the FSLN and his objectives with the USG. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P780187-2325) In telegram 11610 from Caracas, December 12, Luers reported that Perez “predicted that the FAO will eventually give up or split up if we cannot get Somoza to announce that he will accept the plebiscite.” (National Archives, RG59, Central Foreign Policy File, P850083-2310)
  5. Not found.