272. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) to President Carter1


  • Panama and El Salvador (S)

As per your instruction, after your meeting with Gabriel Lewis and Romulo Escobar on September 28,2 Bob Pastor spent two hours discussing the situation in El Salvador with Escobar. Bob clarified US policy as Escobar had misrepresented it in his conversation with you. Although our analyses of the situation differ slightly, Bob was able to gain agreement with Escobar on objectives and a program of action, which include the following:

1. We will use our influence on the Salvadoran Junta to encourage them to reduce human rights violations by offering certain incentives. (In essence, this is our strategy on helicopters although he did not describe it as such.) (S)

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2. Panama will use its influence with the revolutionary groups to get them to reduce the terrorism, and to try to identify those groups who will be more willing to dialogue with the Junta. (S)

3. We will both try to strengthen the Junta, encouraging Majano to remain, and we will especially try to maintain a dialogue with Majano’s supporters in the military. (S)

4. We urge the Panamanians to open up a dialogue with the Christian Democratic Party, and although Escobar was not enthusiastic about this idea, he said he would convey it to Torrijos. (S)

5. We will both try to seek a moratorium on violence, perhaps by trying to obtain an agreement on a stand down in certain regions in El Salvador. (S)

6. We will support the electoral process, particularly if the Junta announces such an program, as we expect they will do on October 15. (However, Escobar does not think that an electoral program is practical or meaningful in such a violent revolutionary situation.) (S)

Escobar also said that he is confident that Torrijos will suspend indefinitely any consideration of establishing diplomatic relations with the PRC or the Soviet Union. He expressed great appreciation for the opportunity to dialogue, and said that General Torrijos may very well take up your offer to meet with Bob or another USG official to discuss the Salvadoran issue in greater detail. (S)

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Office, Box 86, Sensitive XX, 9/80. Secret. Sent for information. Carter initialed the top-right corner of the memorandum.
  2. See Document 270.