355. Telegram From the White House to the Embassy in Venezuela1

WH 90126. Please deliver the following message from the President to President Perez immediately.

Begin text:

Dear Mr. President:

Thank you for your kind and frank letter of December 22.2 I greatly appreciated having your views on the difficult situation in Nicaragua. Ambassador Luers has kept me informed through his messages of his discussions with you.3 Your influence on Nicaraguan democratic sectors was very helpful in permitting the mediation process to take place. Your encouragement of the democratic sectors to participate in this attempt to resolve peacefully Nicaragua’s political crisis was deeply appreciated by all who seek a democratic resolution of the problems in that country.

[Page 1029]

As you know, the mediators have received and examined the latest response from the Nationalist Liberal Party of Nicaragua to their earlier proposal to conduct a fair and just plebiscite. It is apparent from their response, however, that they have not seen their way clear to accept the mediators’ proposal for a workable, internationally supervised plebiscite. Their position appears to foreclose reaching a negotiated solution at the present time. I assure you that the United States remains deeply concerned about the state of human rights and the prospects for free, democratic government in that country, and we shall continue to shape our policies accordingly.

We believe it essential to encourage the democratic middle to keep it from breaking up,4 and to maintain the opportunity for negotiation of a peaceful and lasting solution to the current internal political crisis. The forces which have supported democratic solution—the broad opposition front, the private sector, labor, and the church—all constitute significant and necessary elements for Nicaragua’s future. To the extent that the advocates of violence are encouraged, the moderate middle will disintegrate. I believe, therefore, that we should move carefully to protect—not weaken—the chances for peaceful accommodation and change, which we note from your discussions that you seek as well.

It will be important also to coordinate our policies in the OAS, and our responses to human rights factors. We think it is important to maintain the international community’s pressure on the individual elements in Nicaragua, including the Somoza government, to persuade them to resume a peaceful solution to the crisis. I will keep you fully informed of our thinking and planning as we go along.

I greatly value your candid interpretation and advice on developments in the hemisphere, and your reactions to our existing policies and programs. If my administration succeeds in developing relations with Latin America on a more mutually beneficial and cooperative plane, as I believe we will, your help and advice to me will have been a significant element in such success.


Jimmy Carter

End text.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, President’s Correspondence with Foreign Leaders File, Box 21, Venezuela: President Carlos Andres Perez, 6/78-3/79. Confidential. Sent for information to the Department of State.
  2. Perez’s December 22 letter to Carter is Ibid.
  3. Luers’s report of the January 21 demarche, during which Perez said “that the mediation is over, and that unless the United States takes some action soon, Nicaragua will become the Achilles heel of President Carter’s Latin American policy,” is in telegram 620 from Caracas, January 22. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D790032-0341) In a January 23 memorandum to Brzezinski, Pastor noted that Perez’s January 21 demarche to Luers was “very disturbing,” that Perez was “disturbed that the President has not yet responded to his earlier letter, and Perez fears that his good friend Jimmy Carter is not listening.” (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, President’s Correspondence with Foreign Leaders File, Box 21, Venezuela: President Carlos Andres Perez, 6/78-3/79)
  4. Pastor wrote that Perez was “likely to encourage moderate groups in Nicaragua to abandon the FAO and join the Patriotic Front (a Leftist group which will encompass the Sandinistas as well as the Group of 12). Vaky, Luers, and I agree that this is a dangerous strategy, which can only accelerate the polarization and radicalization in the country.” (Ibid.)