176. Memorandum From Robert Pastor of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski)1


  • The Panama Trip

I lunched with Ambassador Lewis today, and he told me that Torrijos has invited the following Presidents to the ratification ceremony: Perez from Venezuela, Lopez Michelsen from Colombia, and Oduber and Carazo from Costa Rica. He plans to invite Manley from Jamaica next week, and asked whether the President wanted him to invite Lopez Portillo from Mexico to the ceremony. He is returning tomorrow morning to Panama and asked whether I could inform him before then.2 I know that Secretary Vance would like for Lopez Portillo to be at the ceremony and I think that would complete the picture of democratic presidents very neatly.


Therefore, I recommend that I be permitted to inform Lewis that the President would like for Torrijos to invite Lopez Portillo to the ratification ceremony.3

** As to the rest of the conversation, I urged him to expedite the Exchange of the Instruments of Ratification by Panama on the American Convention on Human Rights which it has already ratified. We spoke about Panamanian participation in the non-aligned movement and he said that Panama’s UN Ambassador would probably attend the session in Havana,4 and so I briefed him on the Cuban situation in Africa and suggested that he convey this information to the Panamanian UN Ambassador. Lewis said that he believed Cuba’s involvement in Africa was “a mistake”, and that Panama should indeed play a more vocal role in bringing this issue to the fore. He asked if I would talk to Torrijos about it when I was in Panama next week.5 (I said that I would [Page 436] have to speak with you first.) We also spoke about Panama’s desire to establish democratic relations with the Soviet Union, and I expressed the opinion that now was not6 the time for such a move. Lewis agreed wholeheartedly, and also urged that I weigh-in with Torrijos. He said that Torrijos valued my views on these matters, noting that I had been right and Torrijos wrong when we spoke last October about Somoza’s survivability.7

As to the political situation in Panama, Lewis said that he believed Torrijos, like Chairman Mao (my analogy), intended to let 100 flowers bloom this summer, and see who was politically ambitious for the Presidency, then he would elect to run, and cut the other flowers off at the stem.

I hope to have an opportunity to speak with you on Monday or Tuesday8 on the Panama trip, the PRC meeting, and the President’s speech in Panama.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Trip File, Box 13, President, Panama, 6/16–17/78: Cables and Memos, 5/12/78–6/13/78. No classification marking. Sent for action. Brzezinski wrote on the memorandum: “Urgent.”
  2. Brzezinski underlined this sentence.
  3. Brzezinski checked the approve option.
  4. Brzezinski circled “participation in the non-aligned movement” and “Ambassador would probably attend the session in Havana, and” and wrote below the paragraph: “That’s extremely bad! They should not. ZB.”
  5. Brzezinski highlighted this sentence.
  6. Brzezinski underlined “not.”
  7. See Document 116.
  8. May 15 and 16.