Released by the Office of the Historian
1. Editorial Note In April 1952 Nicaraguan President Anastasio Somoza visited Washington unofficially and told aides to President Harry Truman that he and Carlos Castillo Armas would be able to take care of the Guatemalan problem if they were furnished with military weapons. The prospective rebels had financial backing from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic, as well as the United Fruit Company. (Nicholas Cullather, Operation PBSUCCESS: The United States and Guatemala, 1952-1954, pages 16-19; available on the Internet at
1. Editorial Note
In April 1952 Nicaraguan President Anastasio Somoza visited Washington unofficially and told aides to President Harry Truman that he and Carlos Castillo Armas would be able to take care of the Guatemalan problem if they were furnished with military weapons. The prospective rebels had financial backing from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic, as well as the United Fruit Company. (Nicholas Cullather, Operation PBSUCCESS: The United States and Guatemala, 1952-1954, pages 16-19; available on the Internet athttp://www.cia.gov) A May 1 briefing memorandum from Secretary of State Acheson to President Truman on the Somoza visit without any reference to his proposal on Guatemala is printed in Foreign Relations, 1952-1954, volume IV, pages 1369-1371 (Document 3).
A Central Intelligence Agency draft paper of September 4, 1953, provides a history of the early days of the Guatemalan operation. It states: "In November 1951 the first of many meetings was held between Agency officials and [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] to discuss Guatemala." The memorandum goes on to recount that in early 1952, after a careful survey of anti-Communist Guatemalan revolutionary leaders, "Rufus," an early cryptonym for Castillo Armas, was judged to be the only one with "sufficient prestige, character, and ability to organize and lead a successful revolution." The plan was reviewed and approved; a D-day of November 15, 1952, was selected, and other states in the region offered assistance. "All went well until the shipment had actually left the warehouse en route to New Orleans. The Department of State refused an export license and at a meeting attended by the Under Secretary of State, his Deputy, the Assistant Secretary for Latin America, and representatives of this Agency, refusal of permit was sustained and a directive given that we were not to spark any revolutionary movement." (Central Intelligence Agency, Job 79-01025A, Box 151, Folder 4)
Action was rescheduled for April 1953, but an unconnected group led by Carlos Simmons attempted a revolt at Salama, which "led to disaster for those involved" and the arrest of one of Castillo Armas' key supporters. After the incident at Salama, the CIA briefing paper indicated, a general apathy and fear apparently weakened the "spirit of resistance and willingness to fight of the 10,000 five-man cells" reportedly organized within Guatemala. The paper admitted that the original military plan "would have little or no chance of success if launched immediately," but argued that it would be possible to increase the odds to 80 percent in 4 to 6 months. It was recommended that "the trigger only be pulled if and when this prerequisite of 80% has been achieved." (Ibid.)
2. Memorandum From the Chief of the Western Hemisphere Division, Central Intelligence Agency (King) to the Deputy Director for Plans, Central Intelligence Agency (Wisner)/1/
Washington, January 11, 1952.
/1/Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Job 79-01025A, Box 151, Folder 4. Secret. This memorandum is attached to a January 14 memorandum from J.S. Earman, Assistant to the Director, to Rear Admiral Robert L. Dennison, Naval Aide to the President, that reads: "The Director of Central Intelligence has requested that the subject memorandum be shown to the President. It is to be noted that the information contained therein has not been coordinated with the members of the Intelligence Advisory Committee."
The Communists continue to be very active in Guatemala and continue to receive government support. Since the anti-Communist rioting in July 1951 the Communists have softened their overt campaign for immediate action in the political field, but they have forged ahead in the labor movement, succeeding in forming, under the guidance of Vicente Lombardo Toledano and Louis Saillant, a central labor organization comprising almost all the unions in the country. The Communist newspaper Octubre is published regularly and circulates freely. It has devoted its columns to anti-United States propaganda and to trying to aggravate the United Fruit Company's labor troubles. The Guatamalan Communists are small in number, but their influence in both government and labor is substantial.
The Anti-Communist Party of Guatemala has been formed since the July rioting and has received strong support from the Catholic middle class and from Indians. The university students have furnished leadership to form a substantial bloc in the Party. They have requested President Arbenz to dismiss the Communists holding positions in the Government, and to expel all foreign Communists. The movement continues to develop in all sections of the country.
President Arbenz has shown no sign of changing the policy set by Arevalo as regards Communism. He has stated his opposition to the anti-Communist movement. Ramiro Ordonez Paniagua, leftist Minister of Government, has recently resigned and been replaced by Ricardo Chavez Nackman. Chavez is generally regarded as an anti-Communist. However, on 4 January 1952 he announced that the government had decided to ban all anti-Communist demonstrations. Colonel Paz Tejada, who had studiously avoided attending all Communist rallies, but who was forced to attend the last one as the representative of President Arbenz, has been replaced as Minister of Communications by Colonel Carlos Aldana Sandoval, an Arbenz supporter. Paz Tejada has been placed in charge of the construction of the highway to the Atlantic.
Arbenz inherited a very black economic picture, and the labor trouble and subsequent threat to withdraw from Guatemala by the United Fruit Company has made the outlook even darker.
Activity of Political Exiles
At least three Guatemalan exile groups are plotting against the Arbenz regime. They are, in probable order of strength:
a) a group headed by Colonel Castillo Armas, former Comandante of the Escuela Militar, and now in Costa Rica, who originally planned a January 1952 uprising. It has been reported that Castillo Armas has been offered aid by the United Fruit Company and a Peruvian group, possibly the government;/2/
/2/Some secondary sources describe Castillo Armas as the protégé of Nicaraguan President Anastasio Somoza. See Piero Gleijeses, Shattered Hope: The Guatemalan Revolution and the United States, 1944-54 (Princeton, 1991), p. 230.
b) a group in Mexico headed by Colonel Arturo Ramirez who has been in exile since an attempted revolt in 1948. This group may be financed in part by American oil promoters;
c) supporters of General Ydigoras Fuentes, unsuccessful presidential candidate of the 1950 elections who is now in El Salvador.
The Castillo Armas and Ramirez groups have been in contact, but so far no agreement has been reached. If the two groups were to unite, a successful revolution might result.
Communist influence in the Guatemalan government continues to be serious. Rumors persist in Guatemala that President Arbenz is ill with leukemia. Efforts to verify these rumors are being made. In the event that Arbenz were forced to leave his office, Roberto Alvenado Fuentes, president of the Guatemalan congress, could constitutionally assume presidency. Such an eventuality would further aggravate the situation in Guatemala because Alvenado Fuentes is a strong Communist supporter having recently attended a Communist sponsored pro-peace meeting in Vienna.
J. Caldwell King/3/
/3/Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.
3. Telegram From the Central Intelligence Agency to the CIA Station in [place not declassified]/1/
Washington, January 22, 1952, 2322Z.
/1/Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Job 79-01025A, Box 7, Folder 1. Secret; Priority.
23889. Re: TLB-1589.
1. It is requested that JULEP locate but not contact Carlos Castillo Armas if in Salvador or Honduras. If located, headquarters should be continually advised of major movements. Reference gives reported permanent [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] address in Honduras.
2. Authorization given for JULEP travel Honduras during investigation.
4. Telegram From the CIA Station in [place not declassified] to the Central Intelligence Agency/1/
[place not declassified], January 25, 1952, 0859Z.
/1/Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Job 79-01025A, Box 10, Folder 1. Secret; Routine.
526. Ref [telegram indicator not declassified] 525./2/
/2/Not printed. (Ibid.)
1. An army captain came Guatemala City 24 Jan from Jutiapa and stated Castillo Armas succeeded in delaying revolt, one of his reasons being few more days would make fall of Zacapa easier; also that Castillo Armas is on [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] farm located both sides Guatemalan-Salvadoran border near Jutiapa.
2. Present indications governing triumvirate will be (1) Castillo Armas (2) Juan Cordova Cerna, see TGG 1359 (3) Oscar Mendoza, Guatemalan Military Attaché in Costa Rica, presently in Guatemala for appendectomy, or Colonel Elfego Monzon, minister without portfolio, or Colonel Marciano Casado who was forced leave country 29 Nov 51 at Tapachula Mexico.
3. Major Carlos Paz Tejada, recently removed as Minister of Communications and assigned Atlantic Highway Works, and Colonel Carlos Enrique Diaz considered by students as pro-government. Latter but not former is liked by some army officers who support movement.
4. Colonel Monzon, although possible choice for triumvirate may be aware generally of planned revolt but not known to be taking part. Colonel Francisco Oliva, ex-chief of Coban (also RCVD, Toban) military establishment and ex-chief of staff for deceased Colonel Arana supporting movement.
5. Military Air Attaché report dated 22 Jan 52 and evaluated C 3 reports Carlos Enrique Diaz has created junta of self, Lt. Col. Jose Angel Sanchez Barillas and Col. Carlos Aldana Sandoval to take over government if president becomes too ill, or for other reason, to prevent occupation president's office by Alvarado Fuentes. Comment: This appears logical move of pro-government officers and could be used to dissipate support to Castillo Armas if his revolt shows indication of success. Source: Same as source 1 of ref cable. Distr: chargé d'affairs only.
5. Telegram From the Central Intelligence Agency to the CIA Station in [place not declassified]/1/
Washington, January 26, 1952, 1938Z.
/1/Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Job 79-01025A, Box 145, Folder 12. Secret; Priority; [codeword not declassified]. A similar telegram was dispatched on January 29. (Ibid.)
24629. 1. Hq. desires firm list top flight Communists whom new government would desire to eliminate immediately in event of successful anti-Communist coup./2/
/2/In a January 29 response the Chief of Station suggested additional names and noted: "Cannot say all on list are commies but their leanings are such that considered dangerous our interests. . . . Minimum action of arrest and deportation all on [text not declassified] list should be a new government's desire. Consider doubtful new govt. could long control without deportation majority on list." (Telegram to CIA Station in [place not declassified] January 29; ibid., Box 7, Folder 1)
2. Request you verify following list and recommend additions or deletions: [5-1/2 lines of source text not declassified].
6. National Intelligence Estimate/1/
Washington, March 11, 1952.
/1/Source: Truman Library, Papers of Harry S. Truman, President's Secretary's Files. Secret. Another copy of this NIE is in Department of State, INR-NIE Files. Also printed in Foreign Relations, 1952-1954, vol. IV, pp. 1031-1037 (Document 3).
PRESENT POLITICAL SITUATION IN GUATEMALA AND POSSIBLE DEVELOPMENTS DURING 1952
To analyze the present political situation in Guatemala and possible developments during 1952.
1. The Communists already exercise in Guatemala a political influence far out of proportion to their small numerical strength. This influence will probably continue to grow during 1952. The political situation in Guatemala adversely affects US interests and constitutes a potential threat to US security.
2. Communist political success derives in general from the ability of individual Communists and fellow travelers to identify themselves with the nationalist and social aspirations of the Revolution of 1944./2/ In this manner, they have been successful in infiltrating the Administration and the pro-Administration political parties and have gained control of organized labor upon which the Administration has become increasingly dependent.
/2/A populist uprising in June 1944 ousted President Jorge Ubico from office. After several months of unrest, a group of young army officers, led by Jacobo Arbenz Guzman, forced Ubico's military successor General Ponce to resign. Democratic elections were held in December 1944, and Juan José Arévalo assumed the Presidency on March 15, 1945. For more information on the uprising, see Gleijeses, Shattered Hope.
3. The political alliance between the Administration and the Communists is likely to continue. The opposition to Communism in Guatemala is potentially powerful, but at present it lacks leadership and organization. So far Communist-inspired Administration propaganda has succeeded in stigmatizing all criticism of Communism as opposition to the Administration and to the principles of the still popular Revolution of 1944.
4. Future political developments will depend in large measure on the outcome of the conflict between Guatemala and the United Fruit Company. This conflict is a natural consequence of the Revolution of 1944, but has been exacerbated by the Communists for their own purposes.
5. If the Company should submit to Guatemalan demands the political position of the Arbenz Administration would be greatly strengthened. It is probable that in this case the Government and the unions, under Communist influence and supported by national sentiment, would exert increasing pressure on other US interests, notably the Railway./3/
/3/International Railways of Central America (IRCA) was owned by United Fruit Company. The railway union, SAMF, was one of the largest and best organized in Guatemala. Its attitude has been described as "extremely belligerent" and the union struck in 1944, 1945, 1946, 1947, 1949, and 1950. See Jim Handy, Revolution in the Countryside: Rural Conflict and Agrarian Reform in Guatemala, 1944-54 (Chapel Hill and London, 1994).
6. If the Company should withdraw from Guatemala a worsening economic situation would probably result. It is unlikely, however, that the economic consequences during 1952 would be such as to threaten political stability unless there were a coincident and unrelated decline in coffee production, prices, or markets.
7. Any deterioration in the economic and political situations would tend to increase the Administration's dependence on and favor toward organized labor, with a consequent increase in Communist influence. However, it is unlikely that the Communists could come directly to power during 1952, even though, in case of the incapacitation of President Arbenz, his present legal successor would be a pro-Communist./4/
/4/The Special Assistant, Intelligence, Department of State, would substitute the following paragraph: "Any deterioration in the economic and political situation would probably at first tend to increase the Administration's dependence on and favor toward organized labor, with a consequent increase in Communist influence. However, an economic crisis might force the Government to turn against the Communists in order to save its political position. On the other hand, it is unlikely that the Communists could come directly to power during 1952, even though the incapacitation of President Arbenz would bring a pro-Communist as his legal successor." [Footnote in the source text.]
8. In present circumstances the Army is loyal to President Arbenz, although increasingly disturbed by the growth of Communist influence. If it appeared that the Communists were about to come to power in Guatemala, the Army would probably prevent that development.
9. In the longer view, continued Communist influence and action in Guatemala will gradually reduce the capabilities of the potentially powerful anti-Communist forces to produce a change. The Communists will also attempt to subvert or neutralize the Army in order to reduce its capability to prevent them from eventually taking full control of the Government.
The Arbenz Administration
10. The present political situation in Guatemala is the outgrowth of the Revolution of 1944. That Revolution was something more than a routine military coup. From it there has developed a strong national movement to free Guatemala from the military dictatorship, social backwardness, and "economic colonialism" which had been the pattern of the past. These aspirations command the emotional loyalty of most politically conscious Guatemalans and the administration of President Arbenz derives corresponding strength from its claim to leadership of the continuing national Revolution.
11. President Arbenz himself is essentially an opportunist whose politics are largely a matter of historical accident. Francisco Arana, the principal military leader of the Revolution of 1944, became Chief of the Armed Forces under President Arévalo and Arbenz, a lesser member of the military junta, became Minister of Defense. As the Arévalo Administration turned increasingly leftward in its policies Arana opposed that trend. His possible election to the Presidency in 1951 became the one hope of moderate and conservative elements in Guatemala. In view of Arana's political position, Arbenz, his personal rival for military leadership, became the more closely associated with Arévalo and the leftist position in Guatemalan politics. The assassination of Arana in 1949 cleared the way for Arbenz' succession to the Presidency in 1951.
12. By 1951 the toleration of Communist activity which had characterized the early years of the Arévalo Administration had developed into an effective working alliance between Arévalo and the Communists. Arbenz, to attain the Presidency, made with the Communists commitments of mutual support which importantly affect the present situation. He did not, however, surrender himself completely to Communist control.
Communist Strength and Influence
13. The Communist Party of Guatemala has no more than 500 members, of whom perhaps one-third are militants. The Party, however, has recently reorganized and is actively recruiting, especially in Guatemala City, on the government-owned coffee plantations, and among United Fruit Company workers. It is in open communication with international Communism, chiefly through the Communist-controlled international labor organizations, the Latin American CTAL and the world-wide WFTU.
14. The Communists have achieved their present influence in Guatemala, not as a political party, but through the coordinated activity of individual Communists in the leftist political parties and labor unions which emerged from the Revolution of 1944. The extension of their influence has been facilitated by the applicability of Marxist clichés to the "anti-colonial" and social aims of the Guatemalan Revolution.
15. With the assistance of the Government, Communist and Communist-influenced labor leaders have been the most successful organizers of Guatemalan labor, especially among the United Fruit Company and government plantation workers./5/ Their formation of the General Confederation of Guatemalan Workers in 1951 and Government pressure for labor unity have facilitated the extension of their control over all organized labor. They have been less successful in converting to political Communism the mass of labor, which is illiterate and politically inert. In the important railway workers' and teachers' unions there is opposition to association with Communism.
/5/For information on rural unionization and the almost constant labor union unrest from March 1945 throughout the Arevalo administration see Handy, Revolution in the Countryside, p. 28.
16. Through their control of organized labor and their influence within the pro-Administration political parties the Communists have been successful in gaining influential positions within the Government: in Congress, the National Electoral Board, the Institute of Social Security, the labor courts, the propaganda office, and the official press and radio. Their influence is extended by the presence of an indefinite number of Communist sympathizers in similar positions. The Communists do not fully control the Administration, however. Over their protests President Arbenz has recently dismissed a pro-Communist Minister of Education and appointed a non-Communist Minister of Communications.
17. If President Arbenz should become incapacitated his legal successor would be Julio Estrada de la Hoz, the President of Congress, an ardent nationalist but a Communist sympathizer. In this event, however, the Army would probably seize power itself in order to prevent the Communists from gaining direct control of the Government.
The Anti-Communist Potential in Guatemala
18. Various elements in Guatemala, including many loyal adherents of the Revolution of 1944, view with misgiving the rapid growth of Communist influence in that country. The principal elements of this latent anti-Communist potential are:
a. The Catholic hierarchy, implacably opposed to Communism. While its influence has been considerable, the Church has been handicapped by the small number of priests and by a lack of a constructive social program.
b. Guatemalan landholding and business interests. These interests, which are now enjoying prosperity, resent increasing taxes and labor costs, but so far have not been subjected to direct attack, as have corresponding foreign interests. They may shortsightedly hope for advantage at the expense of these foreign interests.
c. The strong railway workers' union, which has repudiated its adherence to the Communist-controlled Confederation and has ousted its former leaders.
d. A large proportion of university students and an important segment of leadership in the teachers' union.
e. The Army, which has shown some concern over the growth of Communist influence. The Army command is loyal to President Arbenz and to the Revolution of 1944, but is probably prepared to prevent a Communist accession to power.
19. So far, Communist-inspired Administration propaganda has been successful in stigmatizing all criticism of the Administration as opposition to the principles of the Revolution of 1944. So long as it remains possible to discredit opposition to Communism by identifying it with opposition to the Revolution of 1944 and with support of foreign "colonialism," it is unlikely that a coherent, sustained, and effective opposition to Communism will develop. Moreover, political dissatisfaction in Guatemala has been strong enough to unify the pro-Administration parties, and to prevent members of these parties from openly opposing the Communists. For the period of this estimate, therefore, it is likely that the alliance between the Administration and the Communists will continue, and that the potentially powerful opposition to Communism will remain ineffective.
The United Fruit Company Crisis
20. The United Fruit Company, which conducts extensive operations in nine Latin American countries, dominates Guatemalan banana production. The Company controls the only effective system of internal transportation, the International Railways of Central America. Through its merchant fleet the Company has a virtual monopoly of Guatemalan overseas shipping. It owns or leases large tracts of land in Guatemala and is second only to the Government as an employer of Guatemalan labor.
21. The important position of the United Fruit Company in their economy has long been resented by Guatemalan nationalists, regardless of the fact that the wages and workers' benefits provided by the Company were superior to any others in the country. When the Revolutionists of 1944 undertook to "liberate" Guatemala from "economic colonialism" they had the Company specifically in mind. The Government can therefore count on the support of Guatemalan national sentiment in its conflict with the Company.
22. The present crisis had its origin in the virtual destruction of the Company's principal Guatemalan plantation by wind storms in September 1951. In view of previous Communist-inspired labor troubles, the Company unsuccessfully demanded Government assurances against future increased labor costs before it would undertake to rehabilitate the plantation. Meanwhile the Company suspended some 4,000 out of the 7,000 workers at that plantation. With Government support, the Communist-led union demanded that these workers be reinstated with pay for the period of suspension and the labor court ruled in favor of the union. The Company refused to comply with the court's decision and in consequence certain of its properties have been attached to satisfy the workers' claim for back pay. The scheduled sale of these properties has been postponed, however, in circumstances which suggest the possibility of a compromise settlement of the dispute.
23. The Communists have an obvious ulterior purpose in forcing the issue with the Company. The Government, however, probably does not desire to drive the Company from Guatemala at this time, preferring that it remain in the country on the Government's terms. The Company's employees also have an interest in the continuation of its operations. For its part, the Company has an interest in preserving its investment in Guatemala.
Possible Future Developments
24. Future developments will depend in large measure on the outcome of the struggle between the United Fruit Company and the Guatemalan Government.
25. If the Company should submit to Guatemalan demands the political position of the Arbenz Administration would be greatly strengthened. The result, even if it were a compromise agreement, would be presented as a national triumph over "colonialism" and would arouse popular enthusiasm. At the same time the Company would continue its operations, paying taxes and wages. The Government and the unions, under Communist influence and supported by national sentiment, would probably proceed to exert increasing pressure against other US interests in Guatemala, notably the Railway.
26. If the Company were to abandon its investment in Guatemala there would also be a moment of national triumph, but it would soon be tempered by realization of the economic consequences of a cessation of the Company's operations. It is unlikely, however, that these consequences during 1952 would be severe enough to threaten the stability of the regime unless there were a coincident and unrelated decline in coffee production, prices, or markets.
27. Any deterioration in the economic and political situations would tend to increase the Administration's dependence on and favor toward organized labor, with a consequent increase in Communist influence. However, it is unlikely that the Communists could come directly to power during 1952, even though, in case of the incapacitation of President Arbenz, his present legal successor would be a pro-Communist./6/
/6/The footnote in the source text at this point is the same as footnote 4 above.
28. If during 1952 it did appear that the Communists were about to come to power by any means, the anti-Communist forces in Guatemala would probably move to prevent that development. In particular, the Army command would probably withdraw its support from the Administration and seize power itself.
29. In the longer view, continued Communist influence and action in Guatemala will gradually reduce the capabilities of the potentially powerful anti-Communist forces to produce a change. The Communists will also attempt to subvert or neutralize the Army in order to reduce its capability to prevent them from eventually taking full control of the Government.
7. Memorandum From the Acting Chief of the Western Hemisphere Division, Central Intelligence Agency ([name not declassified]) to the Deputy Director of Central Intelligence (Dulles)/1/
Washington, March 17, 1952.
/1/Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Job 79-01025A, Box 7, Folder 1. Secret.
1. Conversations between Mr. [name not declassified] and [name not declassified] in New Orleans on 13 March 1952 revealed that Col. Castillo Armas is unable to leave Tegucigalpa, Honduras, and [name not declassified] is unable to leave Guatemala, at this time. [name not declassified] verified that only he and Mr. [name not declassified] are aware of U.S. Government interest in this matter. He indicated his belief that Castillo Armas and [name not declassified] have a good chance of succeeding, but also indicated uncertainty as to their plans, resources, requirements, and opposition. [name not declassified] cooperation was complete to the extent of [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] in order to complete the conversations. His orders to [name not declassified] in Mexico City directed full cooperation.
2. Conversations between Mr. [2 names not declassified] in Mexico City on 14 March 1952 confirmed that [name not declassified] is not fully informed on present opposition plans, resources, requirements, and their opposition although he is in communication with and has the full confidence of Castillo Armas and [name not declassified] Castillo has the moral, and possibly some material, support of ex-President Carias of Honduras and the good will of President Galvez. He has been promised the support of President Somoza of Nicaragua who has offered to send a personal representative with him to ask aid of President Trujillo of the Dominican Republic. [name not declassified] indicated that he is not certain of the chances for success of any movement at this time, but expressed confidence that sufficient opposition to the present Guatemalan regime exists or can be generated and mobilized to insure the success of a well organized movement. He verified that Castillo Armas can not leave Tegucigalpa at present because of pressure by Guatemala on President Galvez of Honduras. (Galvez has promised [name not declassified] that in an emergency Castillo can leave Tegucigalpa.) [name not declassified] feels that Guatemalan refusal to allow [name not declassified] to leave that country resulted from suspicion cast on [name not declassified] by [name not declassified], who has been working for the Assistant U.S. Air Attaché, Major Chavez, and is doubtless in Guatemalan Government pay. [1-1/2 lines of source text not declassified] Although [name not declassified] would not commit himself, he has been refused permission to leave Guatemala.
3. The lack of intelligence available at this time makes it imperative that this deficiency be corrected before final plans can be made.
4. In consultation with the [less than 1 line of source text not declassified], Mexico City, and [name not declassified] on 15 March 1952, and later with Mr. [name not declassified] on the same date, the following course of action was evolved:
a) [name not declassified] will return to [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] in La Lima, Honduras, the week of 18 March 1952. At his suggestion Castillo Armas will prepare a complete Order to Battle to include all details of Guatemalan Government and opposition strength. From his other sources [name not declassified] will fill in all possible missing details.
b) [less than 1 line of source text not declassified], San Salvador, will contact [name not declassified] in Tegucigalpa during the week of 25 March 1952 to receive the first report and arrange for the transmission of weekly reports [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]. Reports will be forwarded to Headquarters with copies to [place not declassified].
c) A prominent Mexican anti-Communist [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] leader will visit Guatemala the week of 18 March 1952 to establish contact with Guatemalan anti-Communist [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] leaders for the purpose of gaining intelligence and providing support.
d) A prominent Mexican anti-Communist leader has been refused admittance to Guatemala because of his anti-Communist activities. His exclusion from Guatemala will be widely publicized, but his group will receive intelligence from and render support to the organized anti-Communist group in Guatemala headed by Carlos Simmons.
e) The formation of a Free Guatemalan Committee in [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] will be expedited.
f) As the required intelligence becomes available the PW campaign against the present Guatemalan Government will be intensified. All PW weapons will be utilized under the direction of [less than 1 line of source text not declassified].
g) As the PW campaign develops, parallel efforts to swing the balance of power to the opposition will utilize all resources to unite and strengthen the opposition and weaken the present government. If the Guatemalan Government does not fall of its own weight it is conceivable that more direct measures may eventually become necessary, and planning for such an emergency will proceed. However, at this time, the primary effort in this field must be directed toward forestalling any premature attempt to take over the government by force.
[2 paragraphs (16 lines of source text) not declassified]
[name not declassified]
CARLOS CASTILLO ARMAS
5' 5", 135 lbs., slender, black hair, dark brown eyes
Strong personality; soft and slow speaking; serious, hard worker; intelligent, amenable to ideas; analytical mind; studious; light drinker.
6 years of primary school
2 years Industrial Technical School of Guatemala
3 years basic military studies at the Military Academy
6 months specialized in Artillery at the Military Academy
1 year basic course in School of Applied Tactics, Guatemala
3 months, General Staff course (Ground) Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas
4-1/2 months, Service Course at Ft. Leavenworth.
Entered the Military Academy--June 1933
Commander of Artillery Unit, Ft. Matamoros--1936-1937.
Instructor of Artillery, Ft. Matamoros--1937-1942.
Chief of Artillery of the Atlantic Sector--1942-1944.
First Chief of Expeditionary Force for the Defense of the Atlantic Sector--July 1944.
Instructor of Artillery, Ft. San Jose--Sept. to Oct., 1944.
Chief, G-4 Section, General Staff, Oct. 1944-June 1945.
Chief, G-3 Section, General Staff, June 1945-November 1945.
Sub-Director of Military Academy, Nov. 1945 to March 1947.
Professor of Tactics, Second Course, Military Academy, May 1946-Mar. 1947.
Director of Military Academy--March 1947 until early 1949. Then transferred to become chief of garrison at Mazatenango, a secondary post.
Detailed to visit USMA in Sept. 1947.
Definitely pro-American. Cooperated with U.S. missions and the Military Attaché.
On Saturday, 27 August 1949, the government police arrested Castillo Armas, Chief of Mazatenango garrison. Castillo was an Aranista. When the government called for him to send troops to the capital on 18 July 1949, he arranged to have his soldiers miss the train which stopped in Mazatenango for them. Following the 18th, he was naturally very much out of favor with the government, and he resigned his army commission and became a civilian. As a civilian he appears to have started organizing a revolutionary movement immediately.
Castillo Armas is well-known for his integrity and patriotism. He has made no secret of his opposition to the present moral corruption of those in power. He has steadfastly refused to accept any position offered by Arbenz, apparently not wishing to compromise his reputation by being associated with the regime.
Castillo Armas led an armed attack on the Military Base the 5th of November 1950. In the attempt, he was wounded. The movement failed, and he was imprisoned.
(According to the Air/Attaché--reports say that Castillo Armas is a very close personal friend of Arbenz--but the law had to be complied with regarding such revolutionary acts by an officer in the Guatemalan army.)
The evening of 11 June 1951, Castillo Armas escaped from the National Prison, took refuge in one of the embassies, and was granted salvo conducto to El Salvador.
8. Telegram From the Central Intelligence Agency to the CIA Station in [place not declassified]/1/
Washington, March 22, 1952, 1753Z.
/1/Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Job 79-01025A, Box 7, Folder 1. Secret; Priority.
32567. Re: [telegram indicator not declassified]113./2/
1. Agree Castillo must be contacted. Hope [name not declassified] can handle.
2. [name not declassified] will contact you probably 25 March. With you he should ascertain: (1) opposing forces, (2) opportunity for buying support, particularly Army Guardia Civil and key gov't figures, for immobilizing forces not buyable through student [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] or labor inspired action, (3) all details required for estimating success of proposed movement and how we can assist.
3. [name not declassified], not witting at present of our intent to aid but is fully cleared.
4. Submit full report of conversations.
9. Memorandum for the Record/1/
Washington, April 16, 1952.
/1/Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Job 79-01025A, Box 7, Folder 1. Secret. Drafted by Hedden. A handwritten note by Stuart Hedden at the bottom of the page reads: "Apr 28--Gen. Smith approved [name not declassified] and asked me to have [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]."
Mr. Corcoran had a talk with Monsignor Carroll, the purpose of which was to induce the Monsignor to assign to Central America, and particularly to Guatemala, a group of teacher-missionaries who are active young Americans and who have been recalled from China. Much to Mr. Corcoran's surprise, the Monsignor took the position that he had very little interest in dissipating his strength in Central America; that he needed these men as teachers and administrators here and that he was going to keep them here. Mr. Corcoran told him that he had no doubt of the useful purpose that could be served by these men in this country but that, in his opinion, the Church had one major enemy today--Communism; that this country was in no immediate danger from that enemy, but that the entire position of the Church in Central and South America was in great danger from that enemy. He asked the Monsignor if he knew General Smith and suggested that it might be worthwhile for him to have a talk with General Smith to get an appraisal of the seriousness of the situation in Central and South America and he referred to the Argentine. Mgr. Carroll replied that he was planning to telephone General Smith and ask for an appointment, but that he did not know him although his brother knew him well in North Africa. [3-1/2 lines of source text not declassified]
[4 paragraphs (17 lines of source text) not declassified]
10. Telegram From the CIA Station in [place not declassified] to the Central Intelligence Agency/1/
[place not declassified], June 25, 1952.
/1/Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Job 79-01025A, Box 10, Folder 1. Secret; Priority.
600. Re: [telegram indicator not declassified] 596./2/
/2/Not printed. (Ibid.)
Following is detailed summary information furnished by [name not declassified] 24 June and language used which indicates opinions are his.
1. Group has opportunity buy for $50,000 enough arms and ammunition to arm 650 men with sufficient strength to start armed revolt with good results. Arms consist of 500 hand grenades, 180 machine guns, 500 automatic rifles and about 600,000 rounds ammunition. Arms and ammo are already within the city limits and can get them in 24 hours after group has the money. Person with whom dealing is of utmost confidence and giving property valued at more than $50,000 as security. As further security group could keep under control for 48 hours the men who receive the money until merchandise received and determined to be satisfactory. Important have tear gas bombs and request we secure some.
2. As to flying boats would have an airport in control of group and location could be told at right moment. (Indicates) Flying boats should carry flame throwers, automatic arms and machine guns. Use would be to support movement after fighting starts. (Claims) Air force presently has only four old planes which can operate.
3. Revolt to take place in Guatemala City in daring coup involving several important military and government points. Detailed manner (of operation) already prepared. Could have govt disorganized in about six hours of fighting. Once [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] high officials eliminated and no govt to obey knows can get some army officers give help. Have enough men not presently in army who know arms well and previously in armed forces. Preparations already made for use about 400 men who are ready to act within short notice. They only know they are about to enter action.
4. Already has prepared group of professional gunmen to eliminate communists and control the unions which are well armed. Action by them to be timed with overall movement.
5. Can produce some revolts in interior if desire attract attention of govt. No pledges received from military (active) officers but think possible get pledges last minute. Cannot trust any inactive service now.
6. Would be best to have junta including civilians and military men but this not definitely discussed yet (within group).
7. Have no assistance of men or material in neighboring countries but know of group working on that subject and could get their support if could interest that group at precise moment.
8. Funds to be used are 50,000 for mentioned arms and ammo, 20,000 representing 2,000 for each gunman in the elimination of the important communist, the latter to be paid in U.S. dollars after job done. Remainder for other expenses including salaries, foodstuffs and other emergencies such as bribing army officers at last moment.
9. Cannot be sure of success but if operate within short period have chance "maybe as good as 50-50". Intend operate if possible within two weeks. Comments: Am most doubtful plan will succeed in view absence any pledged army support. Statements do not indicate [name not declassified] actually has adequate confidence. Attempt should definitely be timed with Castillo Armas efforts of which presume you informed and can judge whether [name not declassified] not willing take such revelation.
11. Editorial Note
According to the recollections of several U.S. officials, Nicaraguan President Somoza approached Colonel Neil Mara, Assistant Military Aide to President Truman, in early July 1952 with a plan to overthrow Arbenz. Mara's report convinced Truman, who immediately authorized CIA action without informing the Department of State. See Gleijeses, Shattered Hope, pages 239-240, and Richard H. Immerman, The CIA in Guatemala: The Foreign Policy of Intervention, pages 120 ff. See also Foreign Relations, 1952-1954, volume IV, pages 1041-1043 (Document 6).
Little documentation on the beginning of the operation was found. See Documents 13, 21, and 22.
12. Memorandum From [name not declassified] of the Western Hemisphere Division, Central Intelligence Agency to the Deputy Director for Plans of the Central Intelligence Agency (Wisner)/1/
Washington, July 9, 1952.
/1/Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Job 79-01025A, Box 69, Folder 1. Secret; Eyes Only.
The growing Communist tendencies of the present Guatemalan Government have alienated the majority of Guatemalans to such an extent that a popular uprising to overthrow the government is to be expected as a normal reaction. Forces supporting the government are confined to the Communists and fellow-travelers and to those members of the Armed Forces and labor who have benefited materially under the present regime. The recent passage of the Agrarian Reform Act, which makes land available to all Guatemalans in the Communist pattern, is expected to win further adherents to the government although it is opposed to the landowning class whose influence will wane as the Act takes effect.
Armed action against the government has been planned and pending since early this year and is now imminent. Details of the plan for such action, which follows through to the establishment of a democratic government, are known to us. [name not declassified] considers that if proper support can be provided the plan is feasible and practical and has a good chance of succeeding if it is put in effect by 1 September 1952.
Col. Castillo Armas, now resident in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, is the leader of the movement which is supported by organized groups in Honduras, El Salvador, Mexico and Guatemala. Cordova Cerna, resident in Guatemala City, is Castillo's man in Guatemala. Carlos Simons, resident in Guatemala City, is the leader of another large anti-government group in Guatemala which is planning armed action, but which is not as yet working in coordination with Castillo. Coordination is being effected. These three are of exceptional ability and character and are fast friends of the U.S.
Castillo's movement has the moral support of President Somoza of Nicaragua and of President Galves of Honduras, and it is believed that material support from these two men would be forthcoming if they could be assured of U.S. approval.
Castillo's plan envisages moving against the government with clandestine armed forces from the borders of Mexico, El Salvador and Honduras and from the sea on Puerto Barrios in conjunction with internal revolt. He can arm the group in Mexico through purchase of matériel in that country and his other forces have some arms available. However, he will require assistance with matériel from some sources outside the area. His requests for combat air support are not considered to be necessary, but his request for air transport support should be met. His requests for shipping support can be met through procurement in the area. Simons can procure arms locally for his part in the action. Considerable local financial support has already been obtained by both Castillo and Simons, but further support is indicated. Castillo's additional financial needs are estimated at $175,000 and Simons' at $50,000, to include purchase of arms available in the area.
1. Armed action in Guatemala is imminent.
2. The success of any action undertaken without further outside support is questionable and may well result in the elimination of all effective anti-Communist opposition in Guatemala.
3. Support in the form of direction, arms and equipment, enlisting the aid of area chiefs of state, finances, and air transport and shipping support can guarantee a good chance of success.
1. That two more men from WHD be sent to [place not declassified] to assist the men now there in advising on operations.
2. That support with arms and equipment be provided. (These to be returnable upon successful conclusion of the operation.)
3. That Somoza and Galvez be informed that any assistance they give to Castillo will not reflect to their discredit.
4. That financial support in the amount of $225,000 be provided. (This amount to be reimbursable upon the successful conclusion of the operation.)
5. That air transport and ocean shipping support be arranged by the other parties interested in the operation./2/
/2/A July 22 memorandum for the record by Stuart Hedden set the support in motion: "At 10:45 a.m. today, Mr. Dulles gave Mr. Wisner, and Mr. Wisner accepted, complete responsibility for providing immediately a cover story, a place on the Eastern Seaboard available to freighters and manifest clearings for the inventory to be made available in this matter." (Ibid., Box 7, Folder 1)
[name not declassified]
13. Memorandum for the Record/1/
Washington, July 15, 1952.
/1/Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Job 79-01025A, Box 151, Folder 2. Drafted by Stuart Hedden.
1. Mr. Dulles and I had a talk this noon with T. We assured him that, the pros and cons having been weighed, we looked with favor upon a change of management. We told him that we thought his clients, however, should pay the bill as the clients' interests were materially involved. We stated that we could not be of any help in providing either leadership or manpower because we did not have the people available, but we thought we could be helpful in pointing out where the principals might buy the goods they needed. We further stated that if time were of the essence, we had friends who had inventory which we could induce them to turn over on the assurance of his clients that it would be repaid in money or in kind when the business became established. He raised the question of money and indicated several legal impedimenta which made it very difficult for his clients to put up any money in advance. He asked whether we would advance the money upon the assurance of his clients that it would be repaid. We told him we would not cross that bridge until it was the only one left, and pointed out that there were other possible clients who might go into a syndicate with his clients. He said he knew of one such group which already had enough money to provide the cash working capital if the inventory could be acquired on credit as above and asked whether we were in a position to bring this syndicate together with his clients. We told him we thought his clients were in a better position to do this.
2. After Mr. Dulles left, I learned that the head of the syndicate in question will be in New York Wednesday and T arranged to bring his clients to New York to see if their interests could be joined.
14. Memorandum of Conference/1/
Washington, July 21, 1952.
/1/Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Job 79-01025A, Box 151, Folder 2. Secret. An attached routing slip addressed to the Chief of the Western Hemisphere Division from Richard Helms (DD/P) dated February 5, 1962, reads: "I received this file today from Mr. Allen Dulles. I am sending it to you for appropriate disposition. Please insure that any important memoranda in this file are incorporated in the basic PBSUCCESS for the record."
MEMORANDA OF CONFERENCE, MONDAY, JULY 21st WITH MESSRS. M, M, AND J
I showed the draft of the cable we proposed to send and, with the deletion of the reference to DYMAROON, the cable was approved, after explanations on my part as to the identity of the pseudonyms and as to what we had been doing with KMEGGCUP in the field of psychological warfare. The second M spoke very highly of the effectiveness of this P.W. work which he said had been handled quite largely from the country to the North. He felt that these activities might well be stepped up.
I then referred to the three questions which had been put to the second M and which BS later had put to B. There was general agreement as to the desired result. The only question was whether we could play any part in achieving it without alerting anyone as to the source of possible aid. I said that the purpose of the cable was to remove any local people from any direct or indirect contact with the activities. I also said we were calling back an undercover contact man we had in the country to the South. He might return but we would decide that after a conference.
In reply to any inquiry I said that no cash had been made available and that I had some doubt as to whether this was needed in view of the intervention of certain rich parties, whom I identified. However, it was possible that we might lead Calligeris' men or cutouts to certain hardware which was available. All activities, with respect to the hardware, would be restricted as far as we were concerned to this country and handled through cutouts.
I pointed out that whatever happened in the country in question, people up here would be blamed and that the important thing was that the operation should be successful, if there was to be one. On this point I said that most of the experts seemed to feel that this was most likely. I recognize that for every hundred rumors of this nature, only one materialized; in this case, however, it looked as though something were likely to happen.
I emphasized that we realized the very sensitive nature of this activity and that it would be handled with the utmost care.
The first M then referred to the activities of a certain Col. Mara, his relations with S, and how he had flown to N with S and had apparently come back with a report on the situation in the country of our interest, which was in the hands of the Boss./2/ Whether this was prepared by the good Colonel or by S was not known. All this had come about after S had boasted at a luncheon with the Boss that with 600 pieces of hardware he would "knock off" A. Among others who were present and who knew all about this was S's man here in Washington. I suggested that this again was evidence that if anything happened, there would be plenty of other persons to blame for it.
/2/See Document 11. No record was found of Mara's trip to Nicaragua with Somoza.
15. Editorial Note
In late August 1952 the Central Intelligence Agency informed Castillo Armas that the Guatemalan Government had intercepted his letters to supporters in Mexico. Castillo Armas reported, however, that he knew about the government's paid agent and had instructed his supporters to avoid him, but he acknowledged that the agent had likely received information from conversations with his men. (Memorandum from [name not declassified] to the Chief of the Western Hemisphere Division, September 18, 1952; Central Intelligence Agency, Job 79-01025A, Box 73, Folder 3)
16. Intermediate Report on Military Plans for Guatemala/1/
Washington, September 1, 1952.
/1/Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Job 79-01025A, Box 134, Folder 6. No classification marking. A handwritten note on the cover page reads: "Un-numbered Report, 1 Sept. '52." This memorandum is the first part of the report. The other six parts, none printed, are entitled: 2. Carl Simmons; 3. Movement of Arms From the U.S. to Nicaragua; 4. Movement of Arms by Truck from Managua, Nicaragua to Guatemala; 5. Schedule for Advancing Funds to Calligeris; 6. Time Schedule for Operations; and 7. Suspension of Gasoline Deliveries to Guatemala by United States Oil Companies.
1. On 30 September 1952 Calligeris returned from a visit with General Somoza./2/ He was well received and assured by Somoza that he would be given all the support necessary. Calligeris was very pleased with the results of the visit.
/2/Presumably the date of the meeting should be July 30, 1952, soon after Somoza's meeting with Colonel Mara; see Document 14.
2. Specifically, General Somoza promised the following:
a. That he would agree to and assist in the movement of arms into and through Nicaragua.
b. That he would provide the assembly area, the embarkation point, and the landing craft necessary to assemble and embark Calligeris' force scheduled to capture Puerto Barrios in a water-borne operation.
c. That he would furnish some personnel. (Calligeris has asked for about 40 men, including radio operators and mortar men.)
d. That he would provide bomber aircraft.
e. That he had talked to General Trujillo and the latter would give all aid possible. General Somoza will maintain liaison with General Trujillo and see to it that all help asked for is forthcoming.
3. General Somoza stated that no transport planes are available.
4. He stated that Calligeris will have to pay all expenses for his men while they are in Nicaragua, i.e. travel, food, and maintenance.
5. Within the next few days Calligeris proposes to place one or more of his officers in Managua to make the detailed arrangements. Calligeris has requested, and most strongly so, that our group place a man there in a liaison capacity to work with General Somoza.
6. The General was extremely busy during Calligeris' visit because he had just returned from his trip. As a result he had his son go over the plan with Calligeris. The General's son spent most of his time cutting down the list of arms and equipment that Calligeris had presented.
7. On the matter of transport aircraft, when Calligeris was told that none were available (by Somoza's son), he stated, as instructed by us, that all equipment provided would [be] replaced in kind. Calligeris states that the aircraft are available but that the matter will have to be taken to the General. It is for that reason particularly that he would like one of our people there. Calligeris expects to get everything he asks for except aircraft (transport). On that matter he frankly feels he needs our help.
17. Telegram From the CIA Station in [place not declassified] to the Central Intelligence Agency/1/
[place not declassified], September 12, 1952, 1632Z.
/1/Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Job 79-01025A, Box 14, Folder 1. Top Secret; Routine.
[telegram indicator not declassified] 605. Ref: DIR 18338./2/
Somoza advised Ambassador Whelan that he and Trujillo have agreed on Guatemala and would take care of situation. Venezuela apparently has agreed to cooperate. Details of Somoza-Trujillo agreement and plans not presently available. Source TNN 560 not yet advised of plans but will furnish on receipt. Due to illness and preoccupation with other matters Somoza has not yet briefed Dymaroon on plans but has advised that he will do so. Advise if hqs desirous of receiving information obtained from Dymaroon by cable.
18. Memorandum From Jacob R. Seekford to the Chief of the Western Hemisphere Division, Central Intelligence Agency (King)/1/
Washington, September 18, 1952.
/1/Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Job 79-01025A, Box 134, Folder 6. No classification marking. A typed note at the top of the page reads: "Report # 3."
1. On 12 September 1952 an agent from General Trujillo, one Félix W. Bernardino, arrived in Honduras for a conference with Calligeris./2/
/2/Source comment--Félix Bernardino is one of General Trujillo's most trusted men. He is employed at present in the Dominican Consulate, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, Suite 1235, New York City. [Footnote in the source text.]
2. Bernardino stated that General Trujillo desired and was prepared to aid Calligeris with arms, aircraft, men, and money.
3. In return for this help General Trujillo asked that four (4) Santo Dominicanos, at present residing in Guatemala, be killed a few days prior to D-Day. (Names of the four men are not at present available.)
4. Calligeris stated that he would be glad to carry out the executive action, but that it could not be done prior to D-Day for security reasons. He pointed out that his own plans included similar action and that special squads were being designated. Bernardino was assured that the action could and would be carried out on D-Day.
5. Calligeris is confident that this matter can be resolved between him and General Trujillo.
6. Further conferences are scheduled.
19. Editorial Note
On September 26, 1952, Nicaraguan Ambassador Guillermo Sevilla Sacasa and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs Thomas C. Mann discussed briefly Nicaragua's plans for organizing a group of Central American states to overthrow Arbenz. Mann invited the Ambassador to return a few days later to discuss the matter in more detail.
They met again on September 29. Assuring the Ambassador that he was speaking officially, Mann said that the United States thought it unwise to talk about such a "military adventure." He explained: "The United States has subscribed to principles in the UN and the OAS which are inconsistent with military adventures of this kind, and we would find it difficult to fight aggression in Korea and be a party to it in this hemisphere. . . . Furthermore, the proposal was, as a practical matter, reckless since it would not be possible to maintain secrecy as is illustrated by the fact that the Department already has received vague press inquiries concerning the plan." The full text of the September 29 memorandum of conversation, including a reference to the September 26 conversation, is printed in Foreign Relations, 1952-1954, volume IV, pages 1372-1375.
On October 3 Deputy Assistant Secretary Mann informed Secretary of State Acheson of information the Bureau of Inter-American Affairs had received from foreign government sources, in the event the subject was raised at the UN General Assembly session scheduled to open on October 4. The memorandum noted: "President Somoza of Nicaragua apparently has gained the impression, however mistakenly, that a military venture directed at the overthrow of the present Guatemalan Government would have the blessing of the United States." The Ambassador of the Dominican Republic reported that Rafael Trujillo had learned from President Somoza in August of "understandings" arrived at "between himself and President Truman in Washington with regard to anti-communist activities in the Caribbean and particularly in Guatemala."
The memorandum concluded that "it has been adduced that (1) A military plan against Guatemala had already been formulated; (2) only a leader is required to put the plan in action; (3) it is hoped to carry out the plan this year; and (4) all elements concerned would like to have a 'green light' from the U.S. and tangible support in arms." Mann assured the Secretary that Ambassador Sevilla Sacasa had been told that the United States would not condone military intervention by one American state against another. For the complete text of the memorandum, see ibid., pages 1041-1043.
When Secretary of State Dean Acheson learned that arms were being shipped illegally from New Orleans to Nicaragua for the Guatemalan coup, he immediately discussed the matter with Truman who forbade the vessel to proceed. (See Gleijeses, Shattered Hope, pages 239-240 and Immerman, The CIA in Guatemala, pages 120 ff.)
Washington, October 8, 1952.
/1/Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Job 79-01025A, Box 69, Folder 1. Top Secret. Attached but not printed are a list of involved CIA personnel with their contact addresses and telephone numbers; a handwritten tally sheet of monetary disbursements to Castillo Armas, [name not declassified], and various CIA Stations; and handwritten notes on preliminary planning.
Project started prior to 12 Mar 52 with approach to Dir through Mr. Hedden by Tom Corcoran and [name not declassified], who asked for assistance to Castillo Armas and Cordova Cerna movement.
Dir much interested in movement and sent [name not declassified] to find out particulars. Only Dulles, King and [name not declassified] informed at this time.
[name not declassified] talked to [name not declassified] in N.O. 12 Mar 52 and to [name not declassified] in Mexico on 13 Mar 52. [name not declassified] and Hunt brought in on 14 Mar 52 and later talked to [name not declassified] and [name not declassified] in Mexico to get details of plan.
Details of plan received in May 52 and Gen. Edson brought in as military advisor. Edson reviewed plans and asked for further details 10 May 52.
[name not declassified] sent to Honduras [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] in May 52 to contact Castillo Armas, advise, and get answers. His first reports left Salvador 23 Jun 52.
14 Jul 52 decision to aid with matériel made and Wisner, [name not declassified], Tofte, [3 names not declassified] briefed. It was necessary to spring matériel assigned to FE & WE./2/
/2/The last sentence was added by hand.
24 Jul 52 [name not declassified] to Raritan with Maj. Burkett to pass on matériel and packing.
1 Aug 52 [2 names not declassified] met with [name not declassified] in N.Y. Aid with matériel in abeyance, but probable. No financial aid indicated.
12 Aug 52 Dir through Hedden says matériel aid will be given.
16 Aug 52 [2 names not declassified] met with [name not declassified] in Baltimore. Aid will be forthcoming and arrangements for moving and receiving matériel to be made at other end.
18 Aug Dir tells [name not declassified] in presence of Dulles and Adm. Sauer to submit recommendations.
9 Sep 52 Dir approved [name not declassified] recommendations to aid Castillo Armas.
10 Sep 52 [name not declassified] wants to crack Guats in Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador before going further since entry in Mexico indicates they know something.
11 Sep 52 [name not declassified] in N.Y. to talk to [name not declassified] and Dominican consul. King and Hedden talked to [name not declassified] in N.Y., later King and [name not declassified] to [name not declassified] in Washington. [name not declassified] has raised $38,000 and is pinning hopes on [name not declassified]. Says Dominicans will help.
4 Oct 52 Dir tells [name not declassified] in presence of Wisner to get the show on the road.
8 Oct 52 State stops the show.
Gen Edson has complete plans and has been alerted to assist with cover and deception plan. He has talked to [name not declassified] in Mexico.
[name not declassified] is in Honduras [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] & has propaganda plans for cover & deception./3/
/3/The final sentence was added by hand.
21. Memorandum From [name not declassified] of the Central Intelligence Agency to the Chief of the Western Hemisphere Division, Central Intelligence Agency (King)/1/
Washington, October 8, 1952.
/1/Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Job 79-01025A, Box 69, Folder 2. Secret; Eyes Only.
1. Early in July/2/ Mr. Dulles, Mr. Hedden, [name not declassified] and myself visited the State Department where we had a conference at which were present Assistant Secretary of State Miller, his Deputy, Mr. Mann, and Mr. Robert P. Joyce. The CIA delegation posed the following three questions: (as well as I can remember)
/2/According to Document 22, the meeting was held on July 10.
1. Would the State Department like to see a different government in Guatemala?
2. Would the State Department oppose a government established by the use of force?
3. Does the State Department wish CIA to take steps to bring about a change of government?
2. The first question was answered positively. The second question was answered negatively. The third question was not answered clearly but by implication, positively.
3. Mr. Dulles asked me to make a Memorandum of Conversation in long-hand and deliver the one copy to him. I did this and waited in his office while he showed it to the Director. In a few minutes I was called into the Director's office, and it was soon clear that the Director was dissatisfied with the lack of a direct answer to the third question. He then telephoned to Mr. Bruce to make arrangements for a meeting.
4. I later gathered from Mr. Dulles that the Director had received a satisfactory answer from Mr. Bruce.
[name not declassified]
22. Chronology Prepared in the Central Intelligence Agency/1/
Washington, October 8, 1952.
/1/Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Job 79-01025A, Box 69, Folder 2. Secret; Eyes Only.
CHRONOLOGY OF MEETINGS LEADING TO APPROVAL OF PROJECT A
1. 10 July 1952
A meeting was held in the office of Assistant Secretary of State Miller to discuss Project A. Those present: Mr. Miller, Mr. Mann, Mr. Joyce, Mr. Spalding, Mr. Dulles, Mr. Hedden, Mr. [name not declassified] and [name not declassified]. Project was approved by inference. Details of the meeting are covered in memorandum of Mr. [name not declassified]'s dated 8 October./2/ Original paper is believed to be in Mr. Dulles' files.
2. 11 July 1952
A meeting was held in the Director's office. Those present: the Director, Mr. Dulles, Mr. Hedden, Mr. [name not declassified]. A report was made of the previous day's meeting with State. The Director was dissatisfied with the inconclusive position taken by Mr. Miller and Mr. Mann. He telephoned to make an appointment to discuss Project A with Under Secretary of State Bruce.
3. 12 August 1952
A meeting was held in Mr. Hedden's office. Those present: Mr. Hedden, Mr. [name not declassified] and [name not declassified]. Mr. Hedden stated that authority to furnish matériel was given.
4. 13-14 August 1952
A meeting was held in Mr. Dulles' office. Those present: Mr. Dulles, Mr. Hedden, and Mr. [name not declassified]. Conversation seemed to be carried on on the assumption that action was being taken. Mr. [name not declassified] specifically asked Mr. Dulles whether we had the "green light" and Mr. Dulles replied affirmatively, stating that [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] had been told that they could have the matériel if and when they would indicate where they wished to pick it up. (At this or at a previous conference, Mr. Dulles mentioned that the Director had had conversations with Under Secretary of State Bruce.)
5. 18 August 1952
A meeting was held in the Director's office. Those present: The Director, Admiral Sauer, Mr. Dulles and [name not declassified]. The Director called [name not declassified] and instructed him to make recommendations as to future action. He requested that a memorandum be prepared and presented to him. On 19 August the memorandum was prepared for the signature of Colonel King, was discussed with Mr. Dulles by Colonel King, and forwarded to the Director. It was approved by the Director on 9 September.
23. Memorandum for the Record/1/
Washington, October 8, 1952, 4 p.m.
/1/Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Job 79-01025A, Box 151, Folder 4. Secret; Eyes Only.
1. At four p.m. on 8 October 1952, a meeting was held in the State Department. Present were: DB, HFM, EGM, and TCM of State/2/ and FGW, JCK,/3/ [initials not declassified], and [initials not declassified] of CIA. FGW on behalf of the Director stated that it had been the understanding of the Agency that the State Department had approved of the Agency's project to provide certain hardware to a group planning violence against a certain government; that some question had apparently arisen as to whether State does approve; that the fact of the Agency's not having kept the Department informed of the developments in the project was not considered by the Agency to be any reason for doubting that the Department still approved because it had been understood that the Department did not wish to be kept informed of the detailed plans. In the Director's view, the Agency is purely an executive organization of the Government which carries out missions and conducts activities in support of the foreign policy objectives of the Government. The State Department has the primary responsibility in the field of foreign policy and accordingly, the Agency would do nothing that is considered by the State Department to be contrary to its policy determinations. If the State Department disapproves of this particular project, the Agency will take immediate steps to bring to a halt its participation in all phases of the matter deemed objectionable by the State Department.
/2/David K.E. Bruce, H. Freeman Matthews, Edward G. Miller, and Thomas C. Mann.
/3/Frank G. Wisner and J.C. King.
2. In a discussion regarding the basis for the Agency's having understood that the Department approved the project, FGW referred to the Agency's records of conversations between AD/4/ and EGM. The latter recalled his statements to AD and SH/5/ on July tenth in which he had said that he felt the risk of providing arms was too great but that he had no objection to monetary contributions. He recalled that he had also stated that a large American company must be protected almost as strongly as the United States Government because South Americans do not make any distinction between the two in their political thinking and because trouble for the company involves the Department in getting it out of trouble. FGW stated that AD had told [initials not declassified] on or about August thirteenth that the Agency had the green light to go ahead on the project but in the absence of AD he did not know what was the basis of this statement. DB stated that although he had some telephone conversations with the Director he did not recall having said anything that could be interpreted as approval.
3. Messrs. DB, HFM, and EGM pointed to the remarks of General S to the effect that he had the approval of the United States Government to go ahead with a plan. JCK and [initials not declassified] gave assurances that General S had gotten no such approval from representatives of the Agency, and it was agreed that General S's statements could be based only upon remarks made to him by members of the White House staff. The CIA officials pointed out that large quantities of arms have been acquired by the target government and other leftist groups in the Caribbean; that a revolutionary movement against the target is likely whether we support it or not, and that if it fails, American policy will be seriously prejudiced. The State Department officials made clear their feeling that if anything occurred there must be no question of any part of the American Government having had a hand in it, and they were not convinced that the plan for supplying the arms, insofar as they know the details, could be carried out without a breach of security.
4. In conclusion DB stated that the Department approves of many of the activities which the Agency is carrying out throughout the world and does not like to be called obstructionist, but in the present case, as it has been called upon to approve an export permit, it is forced to state that it disapproves of the entire deal. He stated that the Department can raise no objection to any monetary contribution which the Agency might make as it knows that the Agency is constantly passing money for purposes which the Department could not approve of and must do this in order to operate, but it feels that money can be passed securely. The State Department officials present, however, expressed their surprise that [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] should be again mixing up in a Central American revolution and cautioned against using it as a go-between.
[name not declassified]
24. Memorandum for the Record/1/
Washington, October 8, 1952, 10 p.m.
/1/Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Job 79-01025A, Box 69, Folder 2. Secret; Eyes Only. Drafted on October 9.
1. At 10 p.m. on 8 October 1952, a meeting was held in the offices of [initials not declassified]. Present were [3 initials not declassified], K/2/ and [initials not declassified].
2. K informed the group that as a result of a policy decision by State yesterday opposing the shipment of machinery as planned, this decision being precipitated by indiscretions of Somoza, all of the action planned in support of the opposition was off. K explained that Tachito Somoza had indiscreetly approached Assistant Secretary Miller in Panama and asked him where was the machinery, and both the Nicaraguan and Dominican Ambassadors had called on Mr. Mann at the Department of State to discuss the same matter. This confirmed our general belief that no Latin American can be trusted to keep his mouth shut. [initials not declassified] raised the question of the feeding of the men who are already mobilized, and pointed out that even though no further action is taken, RUFUS must have money to liquidate his forces if he is not completely to lose face; that approximately $3,000 per week are RUFUS' present requirements. The possibility was discussed of using the ship arriving in New Orleans on Monday for shipment of machinery to our own place. [initials not declassified] said this could be done without difficulty if there were no trouble in getting the machinery on board. He was sure he could re-route his ship and have it go direct to our own place.
/3/Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.
25. Memorandum for the Record/1/
Washington, October 9, 1952, 9 a.m.
/1/Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Job 79-01025A, Box 69, Folder 2. No classification marking.
1. At 9 a.m. on 9 October 1952, a meeting was held in the office of the Director. Present were the Director, [initials not declassified], and K.
2. The Director explained to [initials not declassified] that all plans for action were canceled. [initials not declassified] then pointed out the responsibilities we have towards the people who are already in the field and who have committed themselves, and the dangers to the entire Caribbean area of the decision reached yesterday. The Director replied that he was fully aware of the dangers inherent in such a decision, but that this Agency is merely an executive agency to carry out the policies of the Department of State and the Department of Defense, and if they instruct us not to engage in a certain operation, we shall not engage in that operation. [initials not declassified] then commented that the Department of State might very well change its position in the near future because of the explosive situation in the Caribbean. To this the Director agreed. K then stated that there had been developments since FW's report last evening to the Director, and that it appeared we had received all the necessary clearances for the shipment of machinery from New Orleans in spite of the questions raised yesterday by State. K stated that he was not even suggesting action in violation of the position taken by State yesterday, but that this shipment could go out as planned except that it would be to a new consignee and to a secure place under our absolute control [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]. The General asked what place did K have in mind--was it our own? When the answer was in the affirmative, the Director telephoned DB/2/ and informed him that while we were not shipping the machinery to the country for which it was originally destined, apparently we had all the necessary clearances and would ship it to a place of our own [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]. Although DB expressed himself as surprised that we had such clearances, apparently no objection was interposed. The Director authorized K to proceed with this shipment to our place if it could be securely arranged and if it were true that necessary authorizations did exist.
3. K and [initials not declassified] described the situation of RUFUS, with a number of men already mobilized, and the need of supplying RUFUS with cash at once for a liquidation action if we were not to be even more embarrassed with our Central American friends. The Director asked how much was needed. K replied $3,000 a week. The Director said he would go along for four weeks and would approve $15,000.
/3/Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.
26. Memorandum for the Record/1/
Washington, October 10, 1952.
/1/Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Job 79-01025A, Box 69, Folder 2. Secret; Eyes Only.
1. The following message is to be delivered by KARL to RUFUS:
Because of the indiscretions of Somoza, the approach made by his son to a member of the State Department/2/ in Panama, and the visit of his Ambassador and the Dominican Ambassador to the State Department, the United States Government was alerted to the shipment of hardware that was being arranged and has consequently taken steps to prevent the export of this material. We know that many Government officials in positions of importance are sympathetic with your movement, but Government policy is based on international agreements which force the Government to take this action. Our group is now considering the next step.
/2/Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs Edward G. Miller.
/3/Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.
27. Central Intelligence Agency Information Report/1/
Guatemala City, October 10, 1952.
/1/Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Job 79-01025A, Box 139, Folder 6. Confidential; U.S. Officials Only.
PLACE ACQUIRED (BY SOURCE)
DATE ACQUIRED (BY SOURCE)
DATE (OF INFO.)
1. Although President Arbenz appears to collaborate with the Communists and extremists to the detriment of Guatemala's relations with the US, I am quite certain that he personally does not agree with the economic and political ideas of the Guatemalan or Soviet Communists, and I am equally certain that he is not now in a position where they can force him to make decisions in their favor. The reasons for my opinion are as follows:
(a) The President's social reform ideas stem from the US New Deal rather than from Soviet Communism.
(b) President Arbenz is still convinced that he is "using" Communists and Communism to further his own ends.
(c) He is fully aware of Guatemala's economic dependence on the US.
(d) Arbenz has no fear of a conservative coup and has taken no active steps to guard against one.
(e) The "opposition" of business groups and conservatives (with the exception of a few landowners) has been greatly exaggerated. This is evidenced by the "surprising" lack of serious concern in most business circles about the effects of the new land reform bill.
It is my personal fear that the chief threat to the Arbenz regime is a coup by rank opportunists within the "palace clique" who have sold out to Communist penetration. Such a coup would first assassinate the popular Arbenz, blame the reactionaries for his death, and then proceed to violently wipe out all conservative opposition.
2. Rather than setting up a Communist state, Arbenz desires to establish a "modern democracy" which would improve the lot of its people through paternalistic social reforms. Arbenz' personal idol is FDR and his reforms are patterned after New Deal reforms and adjusted to the backward economy and social structure of Guatemala. None of the reforms is substantially extreme as compared to many of those in the US, Europe, and even in other Latin American countries. The extremities are relative and seem radical in Guatemala only because of the backward feudal situation they are meant to remedy. Also they seem extreme compared to the ineffective piecemeal measures of his predecessor, Arevalo. During Arevalo's term, Arbenz often became angry at his weakness as a chief-of-state and realized that no effective social measures could be implemented while Arevalo was president. Satisfying his ambition to become president himself, and also with a sincere desire to fulfill his promises to his people, Arbenz went to work immediately and impatiently to implement his reforms and, as he put it, "to jar Guatemala out of the Middle Ages".
3. President Arbenz is still convinced that he is "using" Communism to further his own ends and in no sense is he dictated to by Communist elements although he often plays into their hands in his attempts to use them and the Party line of world Communism.
(a) When Arbenz came to power he feared a popular revolt more than anything else. He pictured himself as FDR in 1932 and followed what he thought was a similar course, that is, he achieved popular support by relieving some of the immediate economic and social pressure on the very poor at the expense of the very rich. The reactionary group, in which Arbenz had many personal friends, fully expected him to reverse his field once his presidency was assured and forget his reform promises. When it became evident that he was serious about reform, the landowners became quite bitter and opposed him at every turn. The reactionaries immediately turned the Communist spotlight on all reform measures regardless of merit.
(b) Sincere about reform and unable to get support for his program from any other source, he found the Party line of international Communism a ready-made tool with which he could organize the proletariat and control the country. Harping on US financial imperialism and on Guatemala's oppressive land system, Arbenz became a popular hero at the calculated price of arousing US indignation. His best emotional appeal to the people was a platform that was anti-US and defiant of US corporate imperialism. Meanwhile the Communist organization which lined up and manifested popular support for Arbenz succeeded in penetrating his government. I am not aware of the extent of this penetration and I doubt that Arbenz is aware of it.
(c) The President deals with his subordinates as individuals rather than thinking of them as organized groups. Roberto Fanjul, Minister of Economy and a close friend of Arbenz, told me several weeks ago that he was certain that the President's sources of information were always "filtered through a Communist screen". (Fanjul is loyal to Arbenz, I am convinced, but under pressure could not be expected to act effectively in his behalf.) Fanjul feels that Arbenz does not believe the Communists have penetrated far enough to harm him and that he does not realize the extent that the Communists claim his reforms as their own. Arbenz still feels he can carry out his objective of using the Communists without being controlled by them. Meanwhile I would say that eight out of ten of the government officials would swear they are not in favor of Communism but that they are using it for their own purposes.
(d) Incidentally the President's wife, Maria Cristina Vilanova Arbenz, daughter of a wealthy family of El Salvador, has far more radically leftist ideas than her husband and expresses these ideas at will. This lady was educated in the US and was raised and spoiled in the luxurious style of wealthy inbred aristocrats. Her socialistic, left-wing ideas are, in my opinion, a definite reaction to this background. So far the President has not appeared to have been influenced by his wife's ideas. One exception to this is the case of relations with El Salvador. These have been and will remain quite cordial on the top governmental level as long as Arbenz is president.
4. Arbenz realizes that Guatemala is economically dependent on the US but intends to bluff through his defiance of US corporations to any length short of national suicide. An integral part of his program is the removal of Guatemala from the category of a "subsidiary of United Fruit". He is a stubborn idealist who is willing to risk his own wealth and who is able to enlist the support of others to risk their wealth on the gamble of getting national control of Guatemala's fruit, coffee and chicle industries and its mineral and petroleum potential. Sacrifices are to be expected under this program and Arbenz is willing to make them. He feels that any hardships on his people resulting from defiance of US imperialism would be politically offset by its nationalistic appeal so as not to effect the perpetuity of the regime.
5. His goal is to assert the rights of the Guatemalan Government to dictate the terms under which foreign firms shall operate in the country, especially where the exploitation of natural resources is concerned. Knowing that his country will never be a large industrial nation and yet needing a sound economy to carry out his reform programs, Arbenz sees the only answer is expanding production and keeping a larger share of what is produced. Yet he realizes this is not possible without US markets and US capital. He realizes that if prices fell in the US or if US import restrictions barred Guatemala's goods, his country would go bankrupt. Arbenz is determined this will not happen. He can only bluff because he has no place to turn. The one possibility would be the Soviet bloc, which might conceivably finance the country in order to maintain a western hemisphere subversion base. This is the one thing Arbenz does not want. He definitely would prefer US domination to Soviet domination. The best example of this is the fact that throughout his bluffing of US interests he has never used the potential weapon of proposed trade treaties with Soviet bloc countries, although it seems logical to assume that such commercial overtures have been made to him. It is my belief that Arbenz will not go that far in bluffing the US. He may, however, bluff too long for the good of his regime.
6. Right now the entire economy is propped up by the price of coffee. A close friend of mine who has been a resident buyer for a US coffee firm for several years told me that if the price of coffee dropped five cents he would get out of Guatemala immediately. The price of coffee is high but the government depends on it to offset some of the losses of the other branches of the economy. Aviateca is bankrupt, several public works projects are in the red, there is trouble in the mining industry and Wrigley stopped buying chicle in the Peten. Despite these reverses, if the price of coffee holds up the regime will stand financially and still carry out most of its social reforms. Yet most of the growers feel that it will take five more years of today's high prices to reach a point where they can withstand a substantial drop in coffee prices. Once the price goes down, only the large growers will be able to hold their land. These will also be able to buy up other lands merely to keep them idle in an attempt to cut down the supply until the prices rise. These tactics would centralize the wealth and starve the workers. These deserted fincas would become overgrown immediately in this climate and if a finca is idle just one year it takes at least five years to put one back into production. In such a situation it would be impossible for the present regime to stay in power.
7. In case of a drop in prices Arbenz still has his oil lands to fall back on, although his use of them as a last resort might come too late politically. He has held up their exploitation so far on nationalistic grounds, holding out for his right to dictate terms for oil exploitation. The government owns most of the oil lands outright and also owns the rights to all underground minerals as only surface rights are included in private titles.
8. Arbenz does not fear overthrow from reactionary groups. When I left Guatemala two weeks ago the President's wife and three children had flown to Washington and from there to Switzerland where the children will be put in school. Someone asked the President if this household evacuation indicated that he anticipated any trouble. He denied it emphatically, stating the family had planned the move some time ago (Arbenz' father was a Swiss immigrant). There is little real worry around Arbenz about an anti-Communist or reactionary coup. Arbenz and Fanjul both feel that there are just not enough large landholders who are interested in or capable of accomplishing a coup and that they could not line up the other dissident elements. The President has several very close friends in the reactionary ranks, all of whom are wealthy and would have less personal gain from Arbenz' overthrow than some of the left-wing government officials. I believe the President is better informed on activities in the rightist opposition camp than within his leftist support groups.
9. The President has not taken the obvious precautions to guard against reactionary revolt. No arms have been distributed to Communist cells or labor groups (at least with his knowledge).
10. Many conservatives have come to view Arbenz as a "moderate" man. Paz Tejada, a staunch reactionary who had once threatened to kill Arbenz, is now on very friendly terms with him. The Communist-inspired agrarian reform bill which was to have met with fierce opposition from all conservative elements has actually been received with surprising calm by business interests and a great part of the landowners. One reason for the relaxing of their fears is the retention of the "last word" power by the President and by the appointment of his private secretary as administrator.
11. President Arbenz, who is constantly aware of the danger of administrative corruption in all reform legislation, has reserved the final authority on reform measures to rest with himself. This relieved the business interests and landholders as it was an indication of a "realistic" approach to land reform. There is confidence that the President himself would veto any attempt to expropriate land which is in active cultivation.
12. This reservation of authority in the case of new land reform law is viewed as unconstitutional by several elements. [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] opinion is that the President's act definitely was unconstitutional. When I advised him of this fact he passed it off to expediency. No one else seemed to take it too seriously.
13. As most landowners are not too worried about having their cultivated land taken away they have also calmed their fears that the opening of new land would diminish their coffee labor force. It is pretty well agreed among the landowners that the Indians will not take on the extra labor and risk involved in leaving their communities and a steady source of food to take the chances involved in clearing and planting uncultivated, inaccessible land.
14. There may be a slight temporary shortage of auxiliary part-time help, but those that work and live on the fincas will probably not leave. [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] there are 35 families living there permanently. During coffee harvest about 80 more workers are recruited in the hills. These hill people are more or less independent but all envy the life of the workers on our finca, for whom we provide shelter and a year-round source of food. The finca dwellers feel they would be fools to leave and try working a strange plot of land. They would lose their place on the finca and risk crop failure on the government land, which would mean they would have to give it up. There is no entrepreneurial spirit among the native workers.
Possibility of a Left-Wing Coup Against Arbenz
15. I believe that the regime is in no danger from a conservative coup but may possibly be in danger of a plot to send Guatemala violently to the left. This will not be possible while Arbenz is President, but there are many opportunists around Arbenz whose personal ambitions outweigh any political convictions. I personally am afraid of a "palace coup" which would accomplish the assassination of the popular Arbenz by the plotters who would blame the killing on reactionary elements. They would use this "outrage" as an excuse to violently "suppress a rightist's revolution" and inaugurate a "peoples' democracy" in Guatemala with themselves at the head.
16. These opportunists of whom I speak are such that they could be, and may already have been, approached by the Communist organization in Guatemala. The man I feel would be most capable of this is Alfonso Martinez, recently appointed by Arbenz to head the government department charged with administering the new land reform law. He is a fat, jovial, extrovert who has succeeded in gaining the complete confidence of Arbenz and who has acted as the President's personal secretary. It was the President's desire for direct personal supervision that prompted him to appoint Martinez to head this important department rather than a tendency to repudiate the known left-wing advocates of the bill, such as Charnaud MacDonald. This appointment was viewed with relief by the business and coffee growing interests. This view is correct as long as Arbenz is President, but the reform machinery has now been set up and with someone else as president who is of more leftist orientation or under actual Communist control, the situation would be radically different. Martinez' recent, though nominal, promotion, his position close to Arbenz, and his greed for power make him an ideal target for Communist penetration. Another opportunist is Charnaud MacDonald, of whose political activities I know very little. It is my opinion that he does not enjoy the President's complete trust.
17. Incidentally, the health of the President is excellent, although he has lost about 20 lbs in the past few years. He is quite robust and active. He enjoys recreational sports, especially swimming and horseback. His morale is also excellent.
28. Memorandum From the Deputy Director for Plans, Central Intelligence Agency (Wisner) to the Chief of the Western Hemisphere Division, Central Intelligence Agency (King)/1/
Washington, October 11, 1952.
/1/Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Job 79-01025A, Box 151, Folder 4. Secret; Eyes Only. Also addressed to the Deputy Chief of the Western Hemisphere Division.
1. I have read the two memoranda dated 9 October and the memoranda dated 10 October by Colonel King, also Mr. [name not declassified]'s memorandum dated 8 October--these memoranda are returned herewith./2/ Colonel King's memoranda appear to be adequate for the purposes intended. Mr. [name not declassified]'s memorandum appears to be an accurate report of the conversation but I feel that it should be rewritten for the purpose of sterilization and that all copies of the existing memorandum should be burned as too revealing. Further concerning Mr. [name not declassified]'s memorandum, I recommend a slight modification in the language of the last sentence on page 1. Instead of saying that "the Agency is purely an executive organization of the Government which carries out the orders of the State Department . . . .", I think it would be much better to express these thoughts as follows:
/2/Documents 24-26 and 21.
"In the Director's view, the Agency is purely an executive organization of the Government which carries out missions and conducts activities in support of the foreign policy objectives of the Government. The State Department has the primary responsibility in the field of foreign policy and accordingly, the Agency would do nothing that is considered by the State Department to be contrary to its policy determinations. If the State Department disapproves of this particular project, the Agency will take immediate steps to bring to a halt its participation in all phases of the matter deemed objectionable by the State Department."
Frank G. Wisner
29. Memorandum From Jacob R. Seekford to the Chief of the Western Hemisphere Division, Central Intelligence Agency (King)/1/
Report No. 10
Washington, October 28, 1952.
/1/Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Job 79-01025A, Box 134, Folder 6. No classification marking. A typed note at the top of the page reads: "Date of Info: 27 October 1952."
1. On 27 October Seekford again outlined for Calligeris the reasons why the Group was forced to withdraw its arms support, namely, that the U.S. State Department had withdrawn the export permit as a result of the indiscrete approaches to the Department by Generals Somoza and Trujillo.
2. Calligeris replied to this essentially as follows:
a. The actions of Generals Somoza and Trujillo were ill-considered. I can appreciate the reaction of the U.S. government on this matter in view of its commitments and agreements with other governments. The U.S. government could follow no other course of action.
b. I cannot, at this time, visit Somoza or Trujillo because of security reasons, however I shall send a letter to each by one of my most trusted officers. In my letter I shall request an explanation of their action and ask each to indicate his degree of willingness to support me under these new circumstances.
c. At this moment we are watching many months of hard work vanish. We shall be forced to rebuild almost from the beginning. As strongly as I feel about this I must say that I have suffered defeat before. We must continue fighting.
d. Before embarking on a new course of action it will be necessary to review the entire problem. My most immediate concern is my existing organization and the means by which I can maintain it intact. It is going to be a serious problem and will require more than money.
e. A series of conferences among the leaders in my organization will be necessary. I would appreciate it greatly if you (Seekford) and Hindmarsh could meet with [name not declassified] in Mexico City within the next week or so in order to begin the laying of new plans.
f . In considering new sources of arms and money I cannot, at this time, say what course of action I will take, other than write the Generals, until I have had a chance to study the matter.
I would prefer to continue working with the two Generals as they are already aware of my general plans and for security reasons I prefer not to bring new persons in unless absolutely necessary. If however they will not help to the degree necessary then I shall be obliged to develop other contacts, i.e. Venezuela, Cuba, and Mexico, in that order.
g. Last week the [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] Military Attaché in Mexico visited me here. He expressed interest in my cause. He stated that he believed arms were available in Mexico and that he would aid me in getting them./2/ He asked if I would have one of my officers call on him in Mexico City in the near future.
Calligeris did not go into too great detail on this. I gathered however that the [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] MA would be instrumental in helping him locate and secure arms and nothing more. [Footnote in the source text.]
h. A few days ago the [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] Ambassador called on me and asked if I would outline for him my general financial and arms requirements in a report which he could carry back to [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]. He stated that he believed the report would be well received. The ambassador is due to return to [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] about the 1st of November.
30. Telegram From the Central Intelligence Agency to the CIA Station in Guatemala/1/
Washington, November 1, 1952, 1550Z.
/1/Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Job 79-01025A, Box 10, Folder 1. Secret; Priority; PBFORTUNE.
26337. Re: GUAT 687./2/
/2/Not printed. (Ibid.)
1. Sincerely regret delay and present inability to assist because of failure of factions to unite and other complications. Can only counsel continued caution and hope for improved situation.
2. Some propaganda funds may be available soon and material aid from other quarters is possibility. Impossible to be more specific now but will keep you informed.
3. Unity of factions to extent of coordination of timing of any military action is absolute minimum requirement but now consider it not feasible that details of proposed operations be divulged by one faction to other. We cannot furnish channel for coordination but Calligeris is aware of necessity for coordinated timing.
31. Memorandum of Interview/1/
Washington, November 13, 1952.
/1/Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Job 79-01025A, Box 73, Folder 6. No classification marking.
Welch, interviewed at Bethesda Naval Hospital where he is awaiting an operation, passed on the following story:
About three months ago he was approached in Managua by a Guatemalan with a Nicaraguan passport who presented himself as a representative of Somoza. This man asked what help the U.S. was going to provide in the attempt on Guatemala and was apparently on a fishing expedition. Welch knew of no such plan and could therefore not commit himself on anything. Later Somoza and his sons in conversations with Welch and the Ambassador among others indicated that they were expecting help from the U.S.
When Somoza came to the U.S. he brought the matter up with Miller who stalled and passed him on to Acheson, who suggested that Somoza pass his story on to Truman. Truman professed to find the story very interesting, but he did not commit himself. On the return trip to Managua, Col. Mora indicated to Somoza that U.S. was definitely interested. Somoza and Mora, in Managua, talked rather openly of the attempt on Guatemala to be made with Nicaraguan and U.S. backing.
When Whelan came to the U.S., he was told by Miller to inform Somoza that the State Department was not interested in sponsoring a "covert" aggression on any American State, to call his attention to mutual obligations of the two countries under the OAS and UN, and to state that any request for U.S. arms should be made through normal diplomatic channels. However, Miller indicated to Whelan that he thought some support for Somoza might be coming from the Army.
Somoza has said that he has an alliance with the Dominican Republic, Panama and Venezuela, but Welch doubts it. The Dominican Ambassador is away at the moment, Somoza is irked with Ramon because of a slight to Nicaragua with reference to the Panamanian inauguration, and Welch believes that Somoza is relying on Ramon's word as regards Venezuelan backing. However, Welch says that when the Nicaraguan press indicated last month that the U.S. was supporting Somoza, and at the same time announced that a revolution was about to take place in Guatemala, all the countries mentioned plus Haiti, Colombia, and Cuba, appeared anxious to get into the act, or at least it seemed so to one in Managua at the time.
Welch feels that Somoza would aid any attempt on Guatemala only to the extent that he was benefiting more than he was aiding. He might provide a training area and obsolete arms in exchange for new arms. Welch feels that Somoza is much more concerned with Jose Figueres' possible election to the Presidency in Costa Rica than he is with any developments in Guatemala, and says that there is little doubt that Somoza will move against Figueres should it appear that the latter will win the election.
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