MEMO RE GUATEMALA 1954 COUP (W/ATTACHMENT)

Created: 5/12/1954

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible

OfifiQ "'STDRICAL REVIEW PROGRAM

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Office Nientorandumunited states govukwment

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subject-

Two copies of attached neac were sent to the Division byWe aro keeping one Innd the attached Is

either lor your retention or to oend to LINCOLN. nado the

following remurk: "Thisecord copy ofand ny

convercatlon last week with Asst. Secretary Hoiiaoa. I'vefew extra copies on the off chance you chooso to send one contributed ouch of tho data that

went into this.'

74

MEMORANDUM OF CONVERSATION

Participants! Mr. Holland (Assistant Secretary ol State for the Bureau of Inter-American Allaire)

Mr. Leddy 4

Summary of Currently Available Information on the Recent

Attack on President Somoaa of Nicaragua

Mr. Holland's requestgave

a brief summary of the incident, as outlined Inf this memorandum.

Holland thenackground statement onLegion. outlined the history and objectives ofand Ite relation to Central American nations and She pointed out that the Legion was at one time based onsoil and received material assistance from the Guatemalanunder President Arevalo with the collaboration of Col. JacoboMinister of Defense. She mentioned that one of the officers ofCol. Francisco Moraxan. Hoaduran Communist, wae one of the

asns of Col. Francisco Arana of Guatemala, political rival to Arbena. Since Arbenn' nomination as President tbe Colonel hasember of Arbens' household,rivate secretary and bodyguard.

reviewed thc part taken by the Legion Inevolution, wbicb resulted in President Joac Figueres'success, and mentioned the bold on Figueres this cure urngiven the remnants of thc Legion which remainin Costa Rica. President Figueres as no longer closely linked tobut always disposed to be tolerant toward them. If notthem material aid, because of hia political debt to them,his friendship for Romulo Betancourt, and becsuec of his lastingfor General Somoaa of Nicaragua and other dictators of thewhom the Legion originally set out to depose.

SpWf

Holland thentatement fromthe evidence implicating the Guatemalan and Costa RlcanIn the recent attack on Oeneral Soman,

stated that the total Information nowthe following conclusions:

a. The attack on Somoaa'a lifeenuine attempt mademall group of Nicaraguan exiles, mostly former members of the Caribbean Legion, including acquisition of arms, for this attempt (plueicaraguane recruited in Nicaragua by General Chamorro).

_ b. The conspirators were tolerated In Costa Rica but were mot demonstrably supported by the Costa Rlcan Their presence in Coata Rica waa tolerated by President Figuerea, who apparently had knowledge of their plana. The Nicaraguan Ambassador in Coata Rica was well Informedthe activities of the Nicaraguann that country, and reported hie information to the Costa Rican Government. Nothing waa dona by the Costa Rlcan Government to prevent the departure of thla group for the attack on Nicaragua.

Guatemalan Government waa notin tha preparation or execution of the plan.

tact that the only Nicaraguan officer In active{Air Force Lieutenant Duarte) who participated in the action

S

asylum in the Guatemalan Exnbaesyuspicious Incident, question of his motive in doing so ia not yet answered.

Somoma has Inflated the importanceof the conspiracy In preas and public statements. Hethat the governments of Costa Rica and Guatemala were

involved in the plot or gave aid and comfort to the conaplratore.

He haa produced certain documentary evidence to support these

chargss. He is still developing the case.

6. mix. Holland then Indicated that hla principal concern was to obtain an accurate evaluation of the quantity, nature and reliability of the

tactual evidence available regarding Costa Btcan or Guatemalan stated that one document mentioning PresidentImplying iue poeeible Implication le reported to cadet, but thatnot been able to see it because It le being held nt present (or ncheck. She said she understood that Mr. Key Leddy had sthe document. Mr, Holland telephoned Mr. Leddy and ssked himIn thc pertinent documents in his possession.

was found that Reellso was missing fromiet of photographic copies of the documentary evidencePresident Somoaa, for the same security reason.

Leddy remained and participated In tbe generalthc evidence which followed. Mr, Holland said he thought theFigueres' Involvement was "intuitive" rather than factual.

said they thought there was positive evidence

snowinghc Nlcaraguan Ambassador had informed Figueres sndRican Government of the activities of the conspirators,had madelight gesture to curb these activities, andadmitted that In tolerating the presence of the Nlcaraguan exilesLegionnaires he had been "too trusting". Mr, Leddyaccording to.one report Figueres had gone even farther incomplicity to Ambassador Hill. said she had not

seen this report. Mr. Holland said he would ask the Ambassador tothe circumstances of this "admission."

Holland conceded, apart from the question of anyof complicity by President Figueres, that there seemed toevidence showingonspiratorial attack againstfriendly country had been mounted in Costa Rica, thatRican government had been warned that this action wae beingend had failed to take any positive action to restrain the attempt.

Leddy said that additional clrcumstanclal evidenceFigueres1 complicity was given in Ambassador Hill's reportsseeming "terror" that the extent of his connection with thcgroup would be revealed. Mr, Leddy explained that Figueres'

political prestige had been declining that/proof of his involvement might

result in an internal Costa Rica political criala.

Sfc6ntf

34

ANNEX 1

he main Incidents of the assassination attempt madeware as follows:

A group ofen, mostly former members of the Caribbean Legion and mostlyith one Cuban and one Guatemalan among them, entered Nicaraguaoint near Granada from Coata Rica. They carried withiscellaneous collection of rifles, pistols, submachine guna, ammunition and grenadea.

They were aided In entering Nicaragua by Humberto Chamorro ana other members of the Chamorro family,

earn family, nnd were promised support by General Emilianoyear-old bead ef the recognised Somoza opposition ln Nicaragua, utual agreement pact exiata between Somoxa and General Chamorro, whereby Chamorro's followersepresentation in the Legislature and other benefits aa an officialeneral Chamorro had been in communication with the Nicaraguan exiles ln Costa Rica for six or eight months, encouraging them in their plans for an attack oa Nicaragua and supplying funds with which to purchase arms in Costa Rica,

General Chamorro's agents In theae dealings was Enrique Soioreano Thompson, also Humberto Chamorro,

Arrangements were, made by General Chamorro for the conaplrators toouse aboutia'outside of Managua, where he was to sendromised supporters to join them. He failed to deliver more, who arrived late and in irregulartaff meeting waa held during the afternoonpril and in view ofhe original plan for assaulting tbe Presidential Palace waa changedlan to ambush and assasainatc or capture President Somoea that same night when he emergedeception being held at the American Embassy. Thiswaa in honor of US General WMtlock and the signing of the bilateral military agreement between the OS and Nicaragua,

Leaders of Conservative Party, Liberal Independents and Union Nacional de Accion Popular reportedly were standing by foreword of the assassination when they would go Into the streets with loudspeaker trucks to arouse the populace.

failed. The principal leadera and moat of the total group of ex-Caribbeanho came from Coata Rica were killed or captured and subsequently killed nt Som one's orders. One Nicaraguan Lieutenant of the Guar dia Civil, Gulllermo Duarte, took asylum in the Ouatemalan Embassy. Humberto Chamorroonfession of hia part le tbe affair after remaining nine daya in hiding. General Chamorro went into hiding on the nightpril before the ambush occurred, Somoaa has since announced that he will respect General Chamorro's Senatorial immunity and allow him to leave the country,

Guillcrmo Duarte la accused by Somoaa of criminal action for abandoning hie military post and absconding with funds of the Nicaraguan National Guard. Somoaa state* that he will make formal demand on Guatemala for surrender of Duarte and if itefused, will breakrelation*.

Most of tbe evidence bearing on this entire Incident, from the early rumors circulating In Coata Rica as early asown to the recant reports, haa originated from sources linked with Somoaa, Tbe Coata Rlcan and Guatemalan governments have been ln the position of making defensive denials. No clinching proof of the allegations of any of theae parties has been given,

The total available information tends to support the following

attempt on Somoxa'a lifeenuine andmade by Nicaraguan exiles living in Costa Rica, whowith arms and for the purpose of mounting an attack

|

conspirators were tolerated in Costa Rica butdirectly supported by that government.

Guatemalan government had no demonstrablethe plan or the event.

Somoxa apparently could have headed off theIntercepting the Invading party at some time during thepril but did not make any effort to do ee.

has Inflated the Importance and scope of theand aaaaaainatton attempt in preaa and public abatements.

has sought to use the incidenteason for chargethe governments of Costa Rica and Guatemala. Ho isthis caae but ao far has not produced convincing orevidence.

question of Lieutenant Duarte's reaaons for taxingthe Embassy of Guatemala Is not yet solved and can possiblyimplication unrevealed up to now,

b. There is no evidence of Communist direction of the incident.

SUBJECT: Nicaraguan Revolutionary Attempt,

memorandum is basedecessarily extremelyof cables and other relevant documents th.ua farInclude:

Photostata of capturedrovided by Somota,to be plans of the conspirators. The photographing was done bjpersonnel.

A declaration by Humberto CHAMORRO to Nicaraguan officials regarding these events, in the preparation of which heart.

2tZl which reported an account by Generalhis activities as leader of the attempt, as provided UErnestoO Thompson.

Id) Cable traffic based on information provided by President SOMOZA.

answer to the questions posed this morning bj examination of the above aourcea leads to tbe following

(a) Thereenuine,taged, revolutionary attempt oi substantial proportions, to overthrow th* Somoxa government and. If the conspirators deemed It necessary, to aaaaaainat* Somoxa.

<b) Thi* attempt was under the aegis of General Emlliano CHAMORRO, Inside Nicaragua, and Manuel GOMEZ Flores, who commanded forces based in Coata Rica. According to CHAMORRO, who is now In biding, he plans toecond attempt "In two months"

(c) While there la no documentary proof aa yet that thla attempt waa backed by either the Costa Rlcan or Guatemalanloser examination will be necessary to determine, if possible, the degree of participation of natives of those two countries.

(d) In the circumstances, it seems reasonable thatbe much concerned end at the start should suspectand Guatemala of participating, but tha fact that he admittedons sights feat ha lacked documentary proof

ts evidence tending to suggest that he la not blowing up the whole affair for US consumption.

3. The authenticity of the captured documents shown toerified by the following factors:

There are no documents whichefinite tie-in with the Costa Rlcan and Guatemalan Governments. Any fabrication by Somoaa would have been sure to Include such "evidence."

Tha complexity of the documentation, which includes detailed exposition of the seven atagea of the revolutionary plan, extensive use of codes and cryptonyms, and apparently authentic memoranda between various msmbers of the "Ejerclto Revoluclonarios evidenceot of thought went Into the planning of the attempt

and would have been hard to fabricate in tbe two or three days between the date of the attempt and the time they were photographed.

plans outlined in the doc am ants agree with bothof Humberto Chamorro to Nicaraguan authorities andreport by Emiliano Chamor.ro, still In biding, to

C 2

EVIDENCE OP GuATEMALAH IMPLICATION IB THELOT

Evidence of Guatemalan participationrafawwlodga of tho attempted assassination of President Somoaa Is tenuous and olrcuasViDtlal, despite the faot that Guatemalan gcvennsant offlelels as well as Guatemalan Ccnawmlsta woeld almost certainly look vith considerable sympathy upon any antl-Seoosa movement. Relations between Blcaragoa and GoateBela here been bednd tbe Guatemalan rovernment assisted the ebortlTO efforta of Mcaraguan revolutionaries ond the Caribbean legion8 The Guatemalan attitude toward the Hlceraguan government has not appreciably changed since then, although formal diplomatic relations were reestablished between the two countries The Guatemalan attitude toward Slearagaa probably hardened oven Tore after the4 Guatemala "Whitehich published alleged evidence tort Riearagua vas Implicatedlot to overthrow the pro-Commnniat Guatemalan government. The following indications of possible Guatemalan participation cannot, however, be considered conclusivei

baa told the American Ambassador on atoccasions that the Gmtomslan Ambesaador lnengaged in anti-Sonose propaganda activities. activities of Guatemalan diplomatic missions InCentral aearleen countries tend to uup.mtalthough there is no conclusiveis not known to have claimed that thewas implicated in the present plot, however.

may be signlttcant that three of thegreeted diplomatic asylum in ths GuatemalanManagua, as two others vers in the Costa Rioen.

leest three ofodd persons Implicatedplot bed formerly lived in exile in Gunteaela. (Jorge Rives Mantes, Ifacduren ex-CsribbasnCol. Manuel Cornea Floras and Majoratlonal Guardsmen) were in Guatemaland Gebuardl had reached Costa Rives Mantes stayed In exile inat least throe years, prior to hie fatal adventure

d. "Confessions" extracted froa sons of the would-be ssaaaslna alleged enoeidarable Guatemalan implication In the

at*

plot. Cne evch "confession* elleged that Preeldente Arcana

and Figueree bed planned the

neeting In Mexico neither Arbenz or Figueres ere known to have gone to Mexico at that tine. Other 'confessions"n that Gueteraelan planes were to be used In the later stages of the planned revolt. Scan of those who "confessed* ware later shot and at least one of the stories was obtained ss the subject was dying. Sonosa claimed to the American Aabessodor, however, that et least one of those implicated is alive and reedy to testify.

EPIDEHIE CF COSTA RICAls IMPLICATION

lm It Is possible tbat President Flguere* granted elandeotinoto tho sntl-Somoaa coop, bot no evidence fimly implicate* Mo. Figuerea, aggreislve champion of democracy In Central Anerice, haa aany eloae friend ah if* among pro fee clonal rawolntlcamlras In tho Carlbboan area. Whan ha lad8 revolt against the Ciaiinlut-Bopported Caldaron Onardla political aeohln* In Costa Rice, be obtained Important end perhaps decisive assistance from tha Caribbean Legion. The Legion, en irregular military force composed ofrevolutions ires and political diss Ideate of many retionelltlea, emerged from the Costa Rlcan civil war with greater strength than the regular Costa Risen armed force. Flgoeree haa been indebted to the Legion aver sines. Although there Is no evidenoe that tha legion attempted to influence Flgneres in his cceatuct of the provisional Coot* Rlcan Coisiismuit8t did enfcerraae him before hemlephsT* opinion by using Costa Rlcan territory for several abortive plots against Nicaragua end the Dominican Republic. hatred of the Caribbean dlctatorehipn which th* Legion aimed to overthrew, hia sense of indebtedness toinn for it* assistance In tbe civil war, and hla else* friendships with many leglcemalr^i, lad bin to be sore tolsrent of the Teglon then hi* own or hisntareete warranted. It earned him the canity of neighboring dictatorships which are unlikely ever to forget that he onceroup latent on overthrowing than.

2, The OAS Intervened In the Costa Rlcem-Jrloeraguan crisis9 and ordered both countries to withdrewfroa elemants hostile to neighboring government*. The Caribbean legion is reported to hove been disbanded shortly thereafter.

K Flruoreo returned es the populArly-eloeted Preeident of Coata Rice la By4 he was being troubled by renewed activity in Costa Rice ofrevolutionaries intent on over-throwing neighboring dlctntorshlpe. Onanuary the Costa Rlcan Guardla Civil arrested several of the plotters and held than for violating Costa Rleen laws by engi ging In activity hostile to naij;hhoring regimes. Coete Rlcan authorities, apperently unable totronf ess* against then, released the plottershort ljsprisaoaant. Flgneres reportedly obtained assurances from several of those Implicated that they weald not engage in further revolutionary activity, s reliably reported to bev* informed Juan Bosch, Ivednlcen exile sad former Caribbean legionnaire, that lt waa only because of their old friendship that he would permit him to leave tbe oountry with whatever ec^rlpmomt be had, Offiolala

In Coots Rice's Ctaardle Civil rape*tod that thoy would not permit Coat* Rican terrltorlty te be used far activity eined et th* overthrew ef neighboring governments, tne Investigative end secret police forces available to Costa Rice are very Halted, however, and apparently the Pigueres adalnlstratlon relied on the Infornnl assnranoee of the plotters rather than effective official action toevival of revolutionary activity.

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