August 14, 1978
The Honorable Viron P. Vaky
Assistant Secretary of. State for International Affairs
The Department of State
Washington, D. C. 20520
Dear Mr. Secretary:
The recent turn of events in Bolivia are extremely disappointing to all who had welcomed the Government of Bolivia's stated intention to allow free and fair elections and to abide by their results.
Partly as a result of the successful hunger strike last December and January, significant steps were taken to ensure the return of democratic processes. Now, with the allegedly massive irregularities in the July 9 elections and the subsequent illegal take-over of the government by Gen. Pereda Asbun, all recent gains are in jeopardy.
It is our understanding that in response to recent events in Bolivia the Administration is considering the cut-off of military assistance. We support such a measure at this time for three reasons. First, for the purpose of manifesting profound disappointment at and disapproval of yet another arbitrary intervention in the democratic process in Bolivia. Secondly, to be certain that U.S. military assistance will not be used for any repressive purposes by the new regime. Thirdly, we support the withdrawal of military assistance in view of the policy of the U.S. Catholic Conference that "specific choices must be made... to place restrictions on the rapid growth of conventional arms sales in the world" (USCG: Administrative Board, February 1978). The determination of when such specific choices must be made hangs on several factors. A principal determinant, in our view, is when such arms sales both increase the flow to governments with records of suppression of basic rights and can be used or seen as a symbolic approval of such repression.
I would much appreciate knowing the outcome of the Administration's deliberations about military assistance to Bolivia and our general posture toward the new regime.
Rev. J. Bryan Hehir