361. Telegram From the Embassy in Venezuela to the Department of State and the Embassies in Nicaragua, Panama and Costa Rica1

6230. Subject: Nicaragua: Competing Venezuelan Forces.

1. S–Entire Text.

2. The Venezuelan Government and the chief opposition party AD are remarkably at odds on how to manage the Nicaraguan crisis, even though they all agree Somoza must go. The management of these various currents is becoming troublesome since we are going to need as much as we can get from Venezuela after Somoza leaves in the way of democratic support. The picture is confusing:

CAP is almost a loner within Venezuela and the AD party in his all-out support for the moderates in the FSLN and the Junta. He is so discredited within his own party and in relation to the government in many ways that his central role with us on Nicaragua is extremely delicate.

—Much of the rest of the AD party is uninformed on current negotiations, generally opposed to CAP and worried about his actions and more inclined to support the Betancourt concern for Fidelismo.

—The COPEI government is inclined toward a support of the Junta with assurances very much like we are seeking, but places Andean [Page 1055] Pact agreement almost ahead of Nicaragua. Therefore, its actions are somewhat limited by Andean consensus.

—Others in COPEI are most interested in avoiding giving any opportunity to the left and in working to promote other moderate currents, particularly politicians inclined toward Christian Democracy. Some are even inclined to provide military support to a democratic opposition.

3. Given this setting, it is essential that I now keep the various sectors well informed. In addition, therefore, to my frequent conversations with CAP, I read in the Foreign Minister today fully on the state of play. Zambrano briefed the President following our conversation while I was in the office. Zambrano said the following:

Cardozo is in San Jose working with the Junta and is persuaded we are still a long way from agreement on a scenario.

Quintana called Zambrano today to say that Somoza has reached an “impasse” with Amb. Pezzullo and implied that he urgently sought Venezuelan Government help in working out a planned departure of Somoza.

—He, Zambrano, was prepared to work very closely with the U.S. as we approached the final hour and would even be willing to go himself or with other Andean Foreign Ministers to San Jose to package together the final solution. I told Zambrano we should stay in close touch for the next 24 or 48 hours. I wondered whether his trip to San Jose to meet with the Junta now would not be undercutting a trip following their assumption of power (should that take place) which would have far greater impact. He said he would take this into consideration. He was obviously very pleased that we were engaging him again more directly.

He is not pleased by the extent of Perez’ involvement. I explained why Perez was involved and that obviously the Government of Venezuela would be much more important after the transition (the Government has Perez closely monitored and is certainly well aware of my frequent conversations and visits with Perez).

4. Meanwhile, Perez informed me this evening of his anxiety over the continued delays. He said he was considering leaving early tomorrow morning for Panama and San Jose, if necessary, to try to put together the final agreement (it would indeed be curious, although unlikely, to find Perez and Zambrano in San Jose together).

5. Finally, I had a long meeting with AD Presidential Candidate Luis Pinerua Ordaz today and gave him a general briefing of the situation. Reflecting Betancourt’s serious concerns over Fidel, Pinerua was unhappy with the Junta. I explained that so were we and that all we had now was bad options. We could only pick the least bad. I [Page 1056] explained that we understood the differences within AD but that we would hope to have Venezuela’s full support including the backing of AD for an effort to make a massive infusion of democracy in Nicaragua after Somoza.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P840140-1621. Secret; Niact Immediate; Nodis.