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

5797. Subject: Nicaragua: Views of Minister of Presidency Garcia Bustillos.

1. S–Entire Text.

2. Minister of the Presidency Gonzalo Garcia Bustillos headed the Venezuelan delegation to Cuba and told me today he had one of those famous six-hour discussions with Fidel. Garcia Bustillos is uneasy about the assurances he received from Fidel that Cuba would not intervene directly. He was not very forthcoming about the substance of the extended discussion. He said Fidel did complain about the frequent telephone calls from ex-President Carlos Andres Perez and said at one point that “Perez was even giving me advice on Cuban Government policy” (I presume this is related, among other things, to Perez’ urgings to Fidel not to recognize the provisional junta). Fidel did talk at length about presumed US plans to intervene. Garcia Bustillos said that if the United States were to intervene, it would use Cuba as the pretext. Therefore, the best means of keeping the United States from intervening is to keep Cuban hands off. I said Fidel is much more deeply involved than he is admitting to “either” Venezuelan Government and I was prepared to give both the Herrera and former President Perez’ “Governments” detailed reports on Cuban activities very soon.2

3. I tried to extract from Garcia Bustillos Venezuela’s and the Andean Group plans for the future. Garcia Bustillos said that a delegation from the Provisional Junta made up of one of the Chomorros and Ferre of the Nicaraguan Christian Democratic Party would visit Caracas Tuesday (June 26). They will seek to persuade the Venezuelan Government to recognize the Junta and break relations with Somoza. Garcia Bustillos implied this was a direction being considered. He said the Copei Government has been in close touch with Robelo and considers him sympathetic to the Christian Democratic Movement.

4. The Minister would give me little in the way of details, but indicated that the Andean Group action plan is well along and would include, Somoza’s departure, very possibly the recognition of the Provisional Junta or some variation of it, large scale, non-military support including economic and technical assistance and the presence of sub [Page 1051] stantial Andean Group personnel in Nicaragua. I asked whether there would be any personnel in a security or fighting capacity and he said that was not being contemplated. It was also clear to me that Garcia Bustillos, although satisfied with the process up to now, is exceedingly worried about the course of events within Nicaragua. He said, in great confidentiality, that Venezuela may be being deceived by some of the Andean Governments with regard to the extent of their support to the Sandinistas. Secondly, he is skeptical that Fidel will keep his hands out for long. Thirdly, he is, quite frankly, persuaded that once Somoza leaves, Venezuela will not be able to exercise any physical “control” over events in Nicaragua. I said I agreed with all of these concerns and I hoped that he would voice them forcefully within his Government.

5. We talked also about my concerns of the continuing transfer of personnel and equipment from Venezuela to Nicaragua. I said that I was persuaded that prior to Herrera’s inauguration in March, President Perez had been training and equipping here both Venezuelans and Nicaraguans for fighting with the Sandinistas. There were Venezuelan Air Force planes making regular sortees to Costa Rica and Panama for such purposes. We have reports from eye-witnesses that there were large numbers of Venezuelans fighting with the Terciario Sandinista faction in Nicaragua. I said there had been some recent reports that disturbed me to the effect that this assistance had continued after Herrera’s inauguration, that some Venezuelans had gone recently and that the Herrera government was aware of this. I asked whether he could assure me of Venezuelan Government policy. Garcia Bustillos was initially, to my discomfort, ambiguous but as we talked through the issues he came to the point of saying that I could inform my government categorically that the present Venezuelan Government has supplied no equipment of soldiers to the Sandinistas since the inauguration and that such a policy was contrary to the Venezuelan position on Nicaragua (Venezuelan television reporters who have been in Nicaragua on the Sandinista side have reported indirectly to me of their surprise at the number of Venezuelans fighting with Pastora, although they have given no numbers).

6. Garcia Bustillos then spent most of the rest of the conversation expressing his outrage at the behavior of ex-President Perez, who daily calls the Presidents of the Andean and Caribbean Basin countries, who still meets with his cabinet on Mondays and who is acting as though he is managing Venezuelan foreign policy. His statement today that he would enter free Managua to raise the banner of liberty is an outrage and makes it very difficult for the Herrera government. I asked what resources Perez can draw on and does he have any support among the Venezuelan military. Garcia Bustillos replied that Perez apparently does have some resources, but not among the Venezuelan military.

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7. As I have indicated, Garcia Bustillos is uneasy and repeatedly said that his government is coming to courses of action based on too little information and too little control over events. I said that it was essential that the United States work closely with Venezuela and that the Andean Group not consider that it can work entirely on its own. I said, not without a portion of irony, that the United States was still the most powerful nation in this hemisphere and this is far too serious a stage in history to have events proceed without our knowledge or involvement.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P840140-1665. Secret; Niact Immediate; Nodis.
  2. Not found.