Release of Foreign Relations of the United States, 1977-1980, Volume XXIV, South America; Latin America Region

Great Seal of the United States

Office of the Spokesperson

Washington, DC
December 20, 2018

The Department of State released today Foreign Relations of the United States, 1977–1980, Volume XXIV, South America; Latin America Region. Two compilations in this volume, on Argentina and the Latin America Region, were previously released in October 2017 as part of the Argentina Declassification Project. Today’s publication completes the volume with compilations on nine more South American countries.

This volume is part of a subseries of volumes of the Foreign Relations series that documents the foreign policy of the administration of President Jimmy Carter. The Carter administration’s human rights policy made both a broad and unpredictable impact on U.S. relations with South American nations. In Ecuador, the policy led the United States to press for the first free elections in 6 years, which were held successfully. The same focus on Bolivia, however, could not stave off a period of political instability that saw four coups in just over two years, including the notorious “cocaine coup” in July 1980. Administration perceptions of the different degrees to which countries’ were willing to reform their human rights practices led to a cooling toward Paraguay and a warming toward Uruguay. The ongoing investigation into the assassinations of former Chilean Foreign Minister Orlando Letelier and U.S. citizen Ronni Moffitt in Washington in 1976 also led to a deep chill in U.S. relations with Chile.

Compilations regarding U.S. policy toward a number of other countries focus on other issues. In Venezuela, the administration enjoyed a close working relationship with President Carlos Andres Perez, encompassed by the ongoing investigations into the Cubana Airlines bombing and Letelier assassination. Only occasional high-level attention was paid to Colombia, most notably during a hostage crisis involving U.S. Ambassador Diego Asencio. The compilation on Peru focuses on U.S. relations with its leftist military junta, dealing with the Peruvian economic crisis, and eventual elections. U.S. relations with Brazil were generally cool during the Carter administration, with disputes over non-proliferation, trade, and human rights at the forefront of bilateral problems.

This volume was compiled and edited by Sara Berndt. This PDF version of the volume and press release are available on the Office of the Historian website at The full text and ebooks of the volume will be released on a later date. Copies of the volume will be available for purchase from the U.S. Government Publishing Office online at (GPO S/N 044-000-02698-8; ISBN 978-0-16-094930-2), or by calling toll-free 1-866-512-1800 (D.C. area 202-512-1800). For further information, contact