BELIZE: THE MEXICAN CONNECTION AND SELLING PRICE


1977 November 26, 00:00 (Saturday)

Margaret P. Grafeld Declassified/Released US Department of State EO Systematic Review 22 May 2009

DRAFTED BY P:DTICE:CHG
APPROVED BY THE SECRETARY
ARA – MR STEDMAN
ARA – MS SHELDON
P – MR HABIB
S/S-O – MR GOLDSMITH
——————117092 262327Z /64
O 262308Z NOV 77 ZFF6
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO AMEMBASSY CARACAS NIACT IMMEDIATE
INFO AMEMBASSY LONDON IMMEDIATE
AMEMBASSY PANAMA IMMEDIATE
AMEMBASSY SAN JOSE IMMEDIATE
AMEMBASSY MEXICO IMMEDIATE
AMEMBASSY GUATEMALA IMMEDIATE
AMEMBASSY KINGSTON IMMEDIATE
AMCONSUL BELIZE IMMEDIATE

S E C R E T STATE 283199

1. BRITISH MINISTER OF STATE ROWLANDS SPENT THREE AND ONE-HALF HOURS NOVEMBER 25 IN NEW YORK DISCUSSING BELIZE WITH MEXICAN FOREIGN MINISTER ROEL. THE LINE ROEL TOOK WAS THAT:
— GUATEMALA HAS NO LEGAL TITLE TO BELIZE;
— A SETTLEMENT AS PROPOSED COULD NOT BE SUSTAINED AFTER THE RECENT UN VOTE;
— HE WAS CONCERNED ABOUT THE MILITARY THREAT OF THE GUATEMALANS AFTER SUCH A SETTLEMENT.

2. ROWLANDS’ REJOINDER WAS THAT:
— THE PROBLEM IS ONE OF POLITICAL COMPROMISE, NOT JURIDICAL SOLUTION;
— THERE IS NO INTENTION OF IMPOSING A SETTLEMENT NOT ACCEPTABLE TO THE PEOPLE OF BELIZE AND IN DEFIANCE OF REGIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL OPINION;
— INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT OF A SETTLEMENT, INCLUDING BRINGING BELIZE INTO THE TREATY OF RIO, WOULD MAKE IT VERY DIFFICULT FOR GUATEMALA TO REOPEN A NEGOTIATED SETTLEMENT.

3. ROEL FURTHER PRESSED THE POINT THAT MEXICO MUST BE A PART OF ANY ARRANGEMENT BY WHICH BELIZE GETS ITS INDEPENDENCE, AND REITERATED HIS PROPOSAL FOR A QUADRIPARTITE CONFERENCE UNDER UN AUSPICES WHICH WOULD BEGIN NEGOTIATIONS ANEW. ROWLANDS STRONGLY COUNTERED THIS PROPOSAL ON THE BASIS THAT IT WOULD DESTROY THE PRESENT TENTATIVE FRAMEWORK FOR AGREEMENT.

4. IN A MEETING LATER SAME DAY WITH SECRETARY IN WASHINGTON, ROWLANDS SAID HE THOUGHT THE MEXICAN PROBLEM WAS MORE ONE OF AMOUR-PROPRE THAN TERRITORIAL DESIGN, AND THAT WITH SUFFICIENT PERSUASION THE MEXICANS COULD BE BROUGHT AROUND TO BECOMING A PART OF THE ARRANGEMENT. ROWLANDS SAID, HOWEVER, THAT THERE ARE TWO MEXICAN CONCERNS WHICH WILL HAVE TO BE TAKEN CARE OF FOR THIS TO HAPPEN:
— MEXICO NEEDS TO BE ASSURED THAT, IF BRITAIN PULLS OUT OF BELIZE FOLLOWING A SETTLEMENT, MEXICO WILL NOT HAVE TO CONFRONT ANY FUTURE GUATEMALAN ARMED EXCURSIONS IN THE AREA.
— THE MEXICANS NEED TO BE CONVINCED THAT THIS IS THE ONLY SOLUTION. AT PRESENT, LIKE PRICE, THEY ARE LOOKING FOR SOFT OPTIONS TO THE PROBLEM NOT INVOLVING TERRITORY, E.G., SOMETHING INVOLVING UN GUARANTEES, OR AN INDEFINITE DELAY.

5. IN THIS LATTER CONNECTION, ROWLANDS SAID ROEL HAD EXPRESSED CONCERN THAT THE PROPOSED SETTLEMENT WOULD BE DESTABILIZING AND COULD RESULT IN CASTRO GETTING A FOOTHOLD IN CENTRAL AMERICA. ROWLANDS SAID THE STRONG COUNTER ARGUMENT WHICH MUST BE MADE TO ROEL IS THAT, QUITE TO THE CONTRARY, FAILURE TO REACH AN AGREEMENT WHICH RESULTS IN BELIZIAN INDEPENDENCE AT THIS TIME WOULD BE MUCH MORE DESTABILIZING. THE IDEA (WHICH PRICE ALSO PUSHES) THAT INDEPENDENCE CAN BE PUT OFF FOR SOME YEARS WITH THE BRITISH REMAINING IN THEIR PRESENT ROLE IGNORES THE REALITIES OF BUILDING PRESSURES FOR EARLY INDEPENDENCE WHICH, IN THE BRITISH VIEW, WOULD PUSH PRICE ASIDE.

6. THE SECRETARY DESCRIBED TO ROWLANDS HIS DISCUSSIONS WITH VENEZUELA’S PEREZ, AND THE LATTER WILLINGNESS TO CONVOKE A MEETING TO HELP BRING PRICE ALONG. PEREZ WAS THINKING OF HAVING OTHER LATIN AMERICAN LEADERS PRESENT.

7. FOLLOWING THE MEETING WITH ROWLANDS, THE SECRETARY SPOKE TO ROEL BY PHONE AND GAVE HIM A SUMMARY OF HIS DISCUSSION WITH PEREZ AND THE VIEWS OF OTHER LATIN LEADERS. ROEL GAVE HIS USUAL COUNTER-ARGUMENTS ON BELIZE BUT SAID THAT HE WISHED TO REFLECT ON THE MATTER IN LIGHT OF HIS MEETING WITH ROWLANDS AND HIS TALK WITH THE SECRETARY. HE WOULD BE GOING TO PRESIDENT PORTILLO FOR FRESH INSTRUCTIONS AND WILL PHONE THE SECRETARY NEXT WEEK.

8. ACTION FOR CARACAS: PLEASE CONTACT PEREZ, AND ON BEHALF OF THE SECRETARY CONVEY TO HIM THE SUBSTANCE OF THE ABOVE. YOU SHOULD ADD THAT THE SECRETARY DEFERS TO HIS JUDGMENT ON THE TACTICS OF DEALING WITH HIS FELLOW LATIN AMERICANS IN ACCORDANCE WITH THEIR DISCUSSIONS THIS PAST WEEK.

VANCE


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