360. Telegram From the Embassy in Venezuela to the Department of State and the Embassies in Panama, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua1

6143. Subject: Nicaragua: Perez Talks to Junta. Ref: San Jose 2930.2

1. (Secret–Entire Text)

2. CAP spent much of Sunday3 talking to Torrijos and to the Junta in San Jose by phone. In several phone conversations with me, he reported the following:

Ramirez, Robelo, Mrs. Chamorro, Cuadao Chamorro, and Descoto were gathered in one place in San Jose convincing themselves they should not accept conditions dictated from Washington. They were angry because Bowdler had passed them by and because Escobar had not been in touch yet.

While refusing to be dictated to by the U.S. they had agreed in principle to expanding the Junta by two to including a “clean” GN officer as one of the two and to a restructuring of the GN. What angered them was that these were U.S. conditions thereby repeating the sad story of Nicaragua. They were angry that the U.S. would try to dictate [Page 1053] the economic policies of the new government and preserve “Somocismo” through retaining the National Guard.

Torrijos meanwhile was convinced that the deal was set, but both he and CAP were worried about the delays in making decisions.

3. According to CAP, therefore, the group in San Jose was working itself into a state of frustration and anger which he saw no way to counter. He is confused by their arguments. He said that considering going to Panama and Costa Rica to to try to calm the Junta and move the decision making along more rapidly. In order to leave the country (within the first six months after leaving office as President) he must ask the permission of Congress. He is inclined to seek that permission tomorrow because he is worried about any further delays. Comment: I am of two minds about this. Should CAP go he could possibly help. But his travel would also complicate matters further with the Herrera government which we will need greatly in our post-Somoza strategy.

4. After consulting Pete Vaky,4 I called CAP back to ask that he weigh in again either tonight or Monday with the Junta, after they had talked with Escobar. I asked CAP to make the following arguments on our behalf:

We are at a historic moment in which the U.S. Government is allying itself probably for the first time with the democratic forces of Latin American behind the people of Nicaragua against a dictator. This moment should not be missed.

The transition plan is not “made in the USA” it has evolved over weeks if not months of consultation with Torrijos, Perez, and other leaders of the hemisphere as well as with many Nicaraguans.5 It is a plan designed to maximize the opportunity for a post-Somoza government to receive the international and domestic support which will be essential for its survival.

We have every intention of providing support to a new government which is broadly based but we have at no time tried to dictate economic policies or programs.

We do not want to preserve “Somicismo” in restructuring the National Guard but we seek to assist in providing stable new force that will permit the new government to exercise control—an objective which all parties seem to agree is important.

CAP said he has made some of these points before but would do so again either tonight or possibly better tomorrow morning when the Junta has talked to Escobar and “slept off” its hysteria.

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5. CAP added that at one point Ramirez said the group wanted to explain its objective and its concerns directly to President Carter. I said they seemed to reflect the classic paradox in Latin thinking—on the one hand they object to a U.S. role; on the other hand they are compulsively attracted to U.S. power and to the U.S. President.6

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P840140-1634. Secret; Niact Immediate; Nodis; Stadis.
  2. Dated July 8. Weissman reported on his consultations with Carazo. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P840133-1978)
  3. July 8.
  4. No record of this telephone conversation was found.
  5. See Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. XV, Central America, Document 258.
  6. See Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. XV, Central America, Document 261.