PBSUCCESS - MEMORANDUM OF CONVERSATION - OPPOSITION TO ARBENZ REGIME (W/ATTACHM

Created: 1/20/1954

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible

Chief of Station,BSDCCKS

uaaorsndua ofpposition to arbenz

1* Enclosed ara eopiasgaorandga of conversation prepared by an Bobesay officer onjn'fu-

2* It le belisred this mororaodaa nay be of interest to PBSoccess personnel ia Ties at ths reasrxs relating to Hlgnal JDIOXfiASCarlos CASTILLO Arsaa and etheries, the aesorendaaslso contains Interesting consents regarding the military espaoity of tha Guatemalan Army and possible reaction of communists to any attenpted coop.

CIA HISTORICAL REVIEW PROGRAM RELEASE IN FULL

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Enclosure1 ss notedk

Distribution 1

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January

L. Krleg

SUBJECT: Organised Oppoeltion to Arbens Regime

A few dayeengthy conversationoung, well-educated Guatemalan who has been la the opposition to tbe present Government for some time. egard bin as well-informed and generally sound la Judgment. The following paragraphe contain the essential parte of the talk but not necessarily In tbe order In which they came up.

Leadership of the Opposition

My Ouateaalan caller said that in his opinion there waa only/one persQn^who could head an effective revolt and the ensuing Government: Colonel Carlos CASTILLO Armas. nquired about Castillo's background, and he explained tbat Castillo hadchoolteacher as well as an Army officer, that he badory hard life In the time of UBICO and hadart of ths revolutionary movement* Heen of moderate views, neither extreaely conservative nor extremely liberal. Be had an open Bind and could accept advice.

In contrast, General Miguel TDIOORAS Fuentesschool. He had served In various

poote under TTbico and had distinguished himself for bio harshness. My caller said he had talked with fifty orArmy officers of his acquaintance to sound out their viewsossible move to overthrow Arbens. With few exceptions, he said, their reaction was tbat they would resist any effort by Ydigoras but would be neutral If the moveaent were headed by Castillo Armas. For this reason, he believedevolt headed by Idigoras would be doomed to failure.

He said that most members of the group would haveivilian to head the new Government and stated that the Ubico regime hadtrongagainst military Government among tbe Guatemalan people. In this connection he questioned that AREVALO would have chosen Arbenz as his successor if he had been

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able to choose freely. He implied that most members of his group regarded Lie. Juan COEDOVA Coma as the tfost capable civilian; but they all recognised that in present circumstances, the leader mustilitary figure*

Military Capacity of tbs Guatemalan Army

My caller said that. measures hadproved helpful to hie cause: the most important step in this connection had been the refusal to license arms sales to the Guatemalan Army. While he recognised the general correctness of this policy, he said that it had proved disadvantageous in one respect only: the Army was now so poorly armed that officers friendly to his movement were not cure the Army (or specifically the Guardla de Honor) could control the policeivil) ifthe latter remained loyal to Arbenz. He said the Guardla Civil had0 trained men In Ouate-male City andfair supply of nachlne gune and He thought these policemen night be moreatch for tha "little Indian soldiers." . o not think thisenerally held view.)

ked whether the feet that the soldiers were Indians did not mean they were more likely to follow their officers whereas the police would be more likely to "lie low" to see which way the tide was moving. He replied that many officers doubted their men would movo against the Government if ordered to by their officers, that the Government had conducted an intensive course of indoctrination for the soldiers and that large numbers of them were believed totrong sense of loyalty to Colonel Arbenz. This doubt about the reaction of the troops was causing considerable hesitation among the officers who were otherwise well-disposed towards an anti-Government coup.

Possible Reaction of Communists to nttetapted Coup

My visitor's concern regarding the military capacity of the Army war. enhanced by his conviction th.it the Commnnlata wera undoubtedly prepared to givetd effective support ai^inst any attempt to overthrow it. In his opinion the recent invafions of private farce not subject tz the Agrarian -tefora Law in the Escuintla area was designed primarily to build up militant groups who wouldeal stake in the continuance of the present regime. He said Carlos Manuel PELLECER, the Co-wiunint leader, had openly said that in caseevolt he would bring hin boys to Guatemala

City and "clean out the My caller did not doubt that I'elleeer and other Coanunlata could ouster thousands of men in defense of the regime and that tbe results could beloody. Despite this circus*-stance, he said he ssw no alternative to an invasion from across the borders since he did not think thecould muster sufficient strength ln the Capital touicktat. hought it Inadvisable to pursue this subject any further.

Original document.

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