197. Memorandum for the Record1


  • Telephone Conversation—Nicaragua


  • Nicolas Gonzalez Revilla, Minister of Foreign Relations, Panama
  • Robert Pastor, NSC

The Foreign Minister called me three times after the President had called Torrijos, and he himself spoke to Torrijos twice. Torrijos asked that Gonzales Revilla convey the following information to President Carter:

1. General Torrijos has decided to follow our position on non-intervention. “Because of the respect and friendship which he has for President Carter, he accepts and obeys this policy.”

2. A most important element in the situation is the support which Nicaragua has received from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. He said it was a shame that U.S. passivity had allowed these three countries to come to the aid of Nicaragua.

3. It is necessary for our mediation effort to produce early progress and results.

4. The problem of Nicaragua is not one for the OAS; it is a problem for a psychiatrist. Somoza has undertaken the strategy of attacking his own people and exterminating all leftists.

5. El Salvadorean President Romero had asked Torrijos to ask President Carter for international humanitarian assistance.

6. Torrijos asked that Jimmy Carter have as much faith in Torrijos’ judgment as Torrijos has in Carter’s.

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7. Torrijos will make sure that Venezuelan planes, which are now stationed in Panama, will not take off for Nicaragua.

In answer to my question of why Torrijos had considered an air strike last night, the Foreign Minister said that Torrijos and Perez had received reports saying that the human rights situation in Nicaragua was getting extremely bad, and that something more dramatic was necessary.

I asked him why he thought Torrijos had called the attack off. He answered: “because of the President’s personal intervention” and because of the persuasiveness of our arguments. He said that he conveyed the message from me and from Dr. Brzezinski much more strongly than we had. He also said that one very important thing is for us to continue sending encouraging signs and words to both Torrijos and Perez.

Torrijos called the Foreign Minister again at 4:30 p.m. and said that he wanted to work closely with the United States again. The General intends to call the Presidents of Bolivia, Ecuador, Argentina, Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala and ask them to support the mediation effort and to suggest a ceasefire. Torrijos asked that we instruct General McAuliffe to call the military leaders in these countries to make the same point.

  1. Source: Carter Library, Staff Offices, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, North/South, Box 42, Pastor, Country, Panama, 8–12/78. Confidential.