GUATEMALAN REACTION TO SHIPMENT OF ARMS ON SS ALFHEM

Created: 5/28/1954

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible

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official Guatemalan reply to the announcement by. Department of State that an important shipment of arma had arrived in tbe Guatemalan port of Puerto Barrioa frca Carauniat-controlled territory on the ss ALPHEM did not come until Foreign Minleter Guillerao TORIELLO's statement and press conference onay.

Prior to this time, the foreign ministry Limited itBelfat eee at onay, which was carried in moat Guatemalan newspapers:

"The purchase of arma from any nation of the worldormal exerciseountry's sovereignty. Ho limitation or control exists which restricts thla form of trade."

Onay, tho day following the announcement of the alfheh's arrival Alfredo CHOC ano, Charge d'affaires of the Guatemalan embassy in Washington, said that he had no reason to doubt the State Department announcement, but denied that there waa anything "grave" about it. Be added:

"We haven't been able toingle cartridge from any foreign (western) country."

Onay CEOCANO walked outinner meeting when the speaker, Senator Alexander Wiley, referred to the "colnous arrival" of the shipment in Guatemala.

Anti-Comnunist and anti-government newspapers in Guatemala, normally in strong opposition to the government, have unanimously defended the government's action in buying arms fron any source.

The prominentommunist editor of Guatemala's largest paper. El Imoarc'r cceraented onay that he saw nothing illegal in the arms shipment, criticized. for furnishing arms to Caribbean dictatorships, such as the Dominican Republic, when those arms are used "for the Internal oppression cf their people."

The strongly anti-government, ant1-Communist, and sometimes. paper La Bora commented onay:

(The arms shipment) "is legitimate, within the codes of commerce. Theovernment was practically unarmed and has sought anas where it could find them. The United States has refused them. The Procedure of the Guatemalan government is not strange to ua, while the procedures of the United States, in making sucheems very strange." (The United States is to blame) "because with its good offices it could have avoided such extremes. But the Americano leave everything to deteriorate in order afterwards to discharge their tons of bombs on the countries which suffered their neglect."

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Other enti-government papero. concern over the arms shipmentxaggerated, that. refused to supply Guatemala with ite legitimate defense needs and therefore could not be surprised at its getting themthat Guatemala Is not an aggressive military power and cannot threaten the Panama Canal or neighboring Centran American countries as charged. senators and congressmen, and that. provides "the dictators of (Latin} America with fratricidal arms."

The pro-Communist government paper Dlario de Centre- America commented on the issue for the first time onay. It charged that the United Fruit Company and its "servants". Department of State) were using the alleged Soviet origin of the arms, which it describedo:

ustify intervention, because it would be tbe only means by which they (the company) could hide their maneuvers to pay lev wages or not to pay at all But let the conspirators not forget that in Guatemala ve are all united to unmask the lie, to shatter the lance of slander, and to defend (Guatemalan) sovereignty."

Guatemala's Communist Tribune Popular commented for the first timeay;

"Yankee government agitators did not cry out 'scandal' when it was announced that supporters ofid Armas (Guatemalan oppositionist exile) were purchasing materiel in West Cermany through Hicaragua in order to attack Guatemala.

"It does not appear that the irascible Yankee senators and officials considered the pact signed by the United States and dictator Somoza (oflacing the Rlcaraguan armed forces under the command of Horth Americanhreat of"

Onoy the Foreign Minister, TORIELLO, held his first press conference on the issue andublic statement which made the following points:

charged that. embargo on arms shipments todesigned to leave the country defenseless and constituted "an act

of aggression." He offered to produce documentary evidence on Guatemala's "long and systematic" efforts to buy arms from tbe United States.

is significant that, while Guatemala was being deniedsupplies necessary for itsoverningthe United States not only provided arms and ammunition towhich have maintained an unfriendly and aggressivethe government of Guatemala, but signed military pacts withproducing natural and Justifiedn view ofand public efforts which are being made to overthrow byconstitutional government elected by the people.

he elam raised by. over the alleged shipment of eras is "malicious and unjustified" and is an attempt toeeting of the American states to prepare intervention in Guatemala.

This most recent attempt to pave the vay for intervention vas preceded by others in recent weeks:

a. . government's presentationlaimgainst Guatemala for damages to the United Fruit Companyesult of Guatemalan expropriation of some of the company's lands. These lands were paid for according to Guatemalan law, and the Guatemalan government has rejected the claim.

b. The Department of State's insinuation that Guatemala is responsible for the wave of strikes which broke out in Honduras early in May. TORIELLO denied Guatemalan complicity.

1*. In view of the "threats of armed invasion of Guatemalan territory which TORTEiXO sees in these attempts atit is absolutely' clear that Guatemala should seek" the means to defend itself wherever it can.

5- TORIELLO denied that tbe government had ever "negotiated for the purchase of arms either in the Soviet Union or In Poland" or that any military equipment from either of these tvo countries was not in Guatemala. But, even if there were, he maintains the right of the government to buy them from any country in the world. "Guatemala isorth American colony, nor an associatednd does not have to ask permission for what it does.

When TORIELLO, according to the Hew York Times, was reminded at the press conference that the State Department had not named either the Soviet Union or Polandource of the arms, but that they had come from Ccamunist -controlled territory, TORIELLO replied: "Por us, Conrainist-controlled territory is the Soviet Union, other countries are sovereign."

b. TORIELLO ended by denying any aggressive intent on the part of Guatemalan government and reiterating its intention to defend itself.

Original document.

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