CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY
Political Vlewa of: newspaperman. Wealthy Businessmen,
Government Officials, Oppositionists/Realstance to
: Regime/US Hevs Inaccuracies
(byCity /Antigua/(iuazaltenango and
DATE ACQUIRED (by. SOURCE)
hirhim ar iini it. uciim m
. MM. iuwuilbl
f M fUHl
NO. OF ENCLS. 5
SUPP. TO REPORT NO.
Foreign editoreil known metropolitan daily newspaper, who returned in3hree weeks stay in Guateaala.
1. Iopent three weeks ln Guatemala gathering materialeries of newspaper articles on current conditions. adritten invitation from Federi'co'9 Gulllermo^a'Imieri, Director of Turi'smo'v- uppose other foreign editors olnewspapers received similar invitauoas. My newspaper happened to like- thearticularly since TurismoJ *as picking up the check.J
sent me two plane tickets, one. for me and one for my wife, and metthe airport in Guatemala City. He escorted us to the Pan American Hotelaccocasodations had been arranged. He explainedasished, to seeas interested in seeing, andiked. He offered to arrange interviews with any persons Ito make whateverished him to make to enable me to He expressed sorrow tbat Guatemala's tourist trade had hit bottomhe did not wish to be impolite but he thought it vsb largely due to apress. This vas thead been expectingave him vhat Ia concise explanation that US Joumaliate feel free to report exactlysee and hear no matter where they go. He accepted this vith apparent
good grace adding that he hoped to persuade me to check the accuracy of some recent press releases:greed). He stated with some pride that the press is also free io Guatemala. ould like to meet some editors. He said he vould arrange it. ould like to meet representatives of all political groups, both pro and anti-government, andould like to talk to people ln rural districts. He said that he vould be happy to sake anyished endas to feel free to proceed under my own steam or to call upon him for assistance. oldould probably do both.
the followingalked with: three newspaper editors, all ofa group of wall-to-do Guatemala City businessmen; tvoof coffee fincas and other enterprises, one In Guatemala City, the other tvo top government officials. The followingiat ofgroups contacted,escription of each and summations of theiropinions.
This report is for the um within the usa of the intelligence components of the Departments or Agencies Indicated above. It Is not to be transmitted overseas without the concurrence of the originating office through the Assistant Director of the Ofnco of Collection and Dissemination, CIA.
J*. NcvBpapermen: himlcrl (brother ofttff writer for "La Bora",editor of "Impecto" and Ramon mlanca, editor of "Inpercial" ,are all outspokenly anti-government. Blanca, particularly, is famous forIntemperate, vituperative articles against the government, fheir opinions are quite similar about the probable courae of events in their country, namely,that the economic picture can be expected to grow progreaaively darker. They point out that the preeent government plana the expenditure of more money than the treasury has or can posalbly get, and they expect serious trouble when funds have been exhausted. Tbey object strongly to Arbenz and his strong-arm entourage, but doubt that he can be auccesefully deposed in the near future. Alfredo Palmier! told me that it has become Impossible to get ln to see Arbenz. He had tried many times to makebut had been told each time that Arbenz was too busy to see the press. (He added that Arbenz's secretary, who is in an excellent position to wield strong influence, la an extremely active Cccnunist.) sked why,otalitarian state, tbey vereree press, and bow long thoy expected thla liberty to last. They replied that they had no way of knowing how long they vould beree voice; eventually, they think, thereood possibility that their newspapers vill be taken over by the government. They pointed out that in Guatemalan tradition there le no ingrained conviction that the press must be free, and that consequently they have nc precise upon which to pinope. All seemed anxiously aware of the history of Mexico, and disturbed by the evidence that tills picture is repeating itself ln Ouatemala.
j. Businessmen: Through Oulllerooroup ofbuslaesseer. of Ouatemala City, at the Ouatemala City Country Club. Palmierl gaveuest cardalked vith one or twoime on several different occasions. It ia hard tp get any reaction at all out.of these men on the subject of politics. Apparently they are not vitally interested in what is happening politically probably Realise they are not suffering; taxea'a^4ibt hitting them hard and tbey are keeping their money. Sone of then has anything good to say about their government; thay are simply accept raffatalistic Latin shrug. Arr.oldl^ayter, vhoourist agency called "Maya Trails" told se that eyen though these men are conservatives and oppositionists, not one of them could be persuaded to contributeampaign fund to back the opposition at tha last election. "When you have lived all of your lifeictatorship you ara careful never to get your nameeaiatancee said. "They have seen too many of their friends executed for leas". The attitude of this group toward politicsareerasic lethargyoral vacuum which seemsarge part responsible for the lack of atrong reslatance among them to Arbenz. Thla attitude can be summed up In the tacit postulate that one enters politics to obtain wealth and personalo better oneself, not ones country. Enriched pollticos are admired and respected; little,if any, attention is paid to the meane they may. have made use of to attain or to maintain their position. MaJorjlMartfneZi administrator of the Land Reform Program, for Instance, is highly admired by thla group. Bla open grafting (he has recentlyremendous apartment house la which he keeps bla alatreas in high style) ls referred toinkroad smile. My host, OulUermo Palmierl, is another favorite of this group. ypical Latin politico, ho isomplete opportunist vlth no political philosophy whatever. One of several of who helped quell revolts against Arevalo, he obtained his present positioneward, and ha isgood use of lt. To attempt toolitico-philosophical Ideal with this group ls simply to invite derisive laughter. Democracy, to them,ighly successful form of imperialism. They especially enjoy pointing to the land conceaeions obtained by the United Fruit company -concessions which are hlgUy resented by all classes In Guatemala, and pointed out as typical examples of democratic imperialism,eflection upon Guatemalan sovereignty. ad expected toertain amount of bitterness tovard the United Fruit company in Guatemala, but Its extent and univeraality .somevhat surprised me.)
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6. Tyo wealthy owners cf coffee flncaa: pent several dayc with Kra native Guatemalan (his pother vas Guatemalan, his fatheran aboutears old, well educated, cultured, an excellentfamily ia quite prominent in the country. rother, Irving ctahl,automobile agency in Guatemala City; together theyovieother real estate. Stahl follovn the political happenings ln hisclosely, but with an attitude of amused objectivity. It is almosthe were watching some immense carnival. Ee discusses tbeas though they vere clowns, and describes tbe movements of thethe detachmentirectorovie set. Nevertheless histbe history of his country is veil rounded and accurate, and hisextremely seen. His predictions of the future of Guatemala are muchao therisis can be expected vhen the money Ho would like to see Arbenz and his group deposed but sees nosuch an occurrence with the weak, unorganised opposition which nowtold mo that Arbenz pays corsnisBioned offlcera In his armyand allows them to import whatever they wish duty-free, in orderthe amy under his thumb, and that ae long as he is thus protected,very little likelihood of any successful coup. Hsans of electioneeringby the government in pover (radio, printing facilitiea forfor dropping them etc). The Guatemalan peasant, he said,heepfor vhcoever he is told byt> mr-ty in power. Of those presentlyhe believes Victor Kanue^feutierrez,. 3ss of Guatemala'slabor,to be by far the mostthe real brains of tbe party,
the pover behind Fortuny and Pellecer". Stahl aald, "Of the three, Gutierrez is the nan to watch-. Kr Stahl made another prediction: that revolutioncome in El Salvador before there is another change of government in Guatemala. He seemed unwilling to elaborate but certain of his facts. ..
7* Inay vithell-known antl-Coomunlst. O'almieri did notas going tq neo(ot hia name, from the (Ua) manager of ay hotel. Hovever, .aineal used the public telephone In Antigua to call,his bouse, Palmier!ad seen him by theeturned to Guatemala City). ealthy coffee planter,irebrick factory in Antigua and several Industrial enterprises. He docs not speak Englishas able to converse vith him through his daughter, an attractive young woman inho vas educated in the US, and speaks excellenturan le about.earseil-born Guatemalan,ighly educated la-dovner vho uses progressive methods in the administration of his finca. His workers are. excellently treated and well satisfied with their lot. Duran does not fit tie present government's ouch touted picture of tbe typlcallandovner, sod. consequently is highly disliked by those in power. Nevertheless he ispular in bla own bailiwick and on the strength of his confidence in the support,of his people he ran for congress at the last.election. The polls vera administered by representativoo of the government in power, hovever,and It vas announced that he had lost. He believes he waa the victimrooked count, and Is embittered by tha experience. rother, also active against the Communists, was forced toleave the country for oppositionist activity and la presently in Honduras. Duron Is highly distressed about the present plight of Guatemala and worries bouj theike Baadn Blanca, the editor, and Alfredo Paloiorl, Journalist, he feels that the history of Mexico is repeating Itself in his country. He haa no faith in tbe ability of tbe opposition to strengthen itself . sufficiently tc provide adequate resistance. Queried about his reactions to tbe Land Reform Program, he maintained that be bad no objection to it and thought lt might accomplish considerable good for the people if it were well administered. (He admits that It is not, and that the law provider loopholes for malpractices of various kinds). He points particularly to the fact that under local administration the land is surveyed and the statistics reported "by guess and by God" by barefoot Indians who can barely count to ton. Fortunately the Program does not affect his own holdings, since nil of hie acreage is in vork, and no land can be claimed vhlch is presently under cultivation.
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Two top government official^: Guillermo Palcieri arranged shortce vith Victor Bcsivjc^k1 utie'rrea boss ofof labor, and Carlos njaueTT$*eIlecer, labor leader,congress and front man for the Communists. poke through ana recessongressional Session. asaving heard from tvo menad judged to be thexet, that Gutierrez he real brains of the Small, shy, .andcwa, he appears on first impressionan underdeveloped lad Ee says that heut thla isbelieve. Hie personality, his manner, his entire approach to thedeliberately basedremise of understatement andanswer to my questions about his job, he said that heeacherin the Guatemala City High School. xplainedeanthead' of the confederation of labor^ and asked how manythe confederation; he said that there arehousand. sked theannual dues and he answered that they are approximately US$3believe both figures are considerably underestimated.) sked howmanaged to become so powerful onmall yearlya -gesture intended to deprecate its power and said that theirvery small. ouched on the possibility that the confederationa recipient of funds from Moscow, and heery small smileif thisanqul. expressed ray surprise at seeingsignersetition to' SWe^tES" Rosenbergs, and those thatfor thend inquired about their origin. Be answeredwere spontaneous reactions of'his countrymen; andntimatedvere typical.of Party-line propaganda all over the world, heand replied that there, vere many people all over the world vhoeame spontaneous ideas. After thisecided that Inowhere fast with Mr. Gutierrez: and shifted my attention .toPellecer came the some responses ivom the Party catechism,stated inmanneralesman. Pellecer has been in thein.Belgium and innd it lo my guess that he has hadin the mechanics of organizing working units for the Bereat 'deal of work among both urbanigh degree of success.. He ejcpressed pride inof the presenthe Land Reform Prograa, theof the state of _Gwtemala. He 'admitted that there were .variousthe actual workings of.the Land Reform Program, but he pointed outgovernment was new at its job, and that it required time toat such.sdjBinistration. _Hls personality ls dynamic, hisdramatic, He Seems well qualified for the work to vhieh he hao
Resistance to. the, Regime.: The oni^ stirrings ofas able to detect came fron the university students in Guatemala City. "Stirrings" it probably tooord for their, blatant expressions of opposition. as told that in the Easter holidayarge float (built by atudents)uddenly appeared bearing an enormous banner vith the words: "ARBENZOPE FIENDi" Students vere blamed for defacing tbe peace posters and theosenberg posters; several anti-Communist profesaora have been expelled from the university for suspected anti-ComtDunist Party activities. In Quezaltenango there is also obvious evidence of anti-regime sentiment. Pro-Communist osters never laat more than IS hours in the city,athered the impression that underground resistance is well organized in this rather.independent city. Quezaltenango's nationalists have not fallen for the Communist line, aod if there ia an area:anywhere in the country where the resistance' can becalledt is here.
Hewn Inaccuracies: Havingeasonably complete file of news releases concerning Ouateaala for atear previous to the time of ray arrivalas familiar with several of the stories Palmierl wished me to check. For example, during the last week of June or tha first of
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^newspapers gave considerable CeTpacetoryaging fira ln Guatemala .City. According to the US preoo the fire had bean set by oppositionists and had consumed several city blocks. ent to the scene of tha fire Irazed lot, vhlch formerly had been occupiedickety old varehouse. The warehouse' had gone up in smoke and four vorkere in it had bien killed. There vas ao political cast to the storyould discover froa talking with neighbors who had been.present vhen it burned, another example of the sort of press to vhlch Paimierl objects occurred onulas In the city). This vas the day the workers of the Empress ELe'c.trica pulled the pover switches, having received' Legal jensission to strike. Tbe pover vas off betveensm, at which time the government seized tbe company and called the workers back. us newspapers carried stories stating thatCity la in darkness" aad so on -which vere obviously false. There are many other examples of this brand of highly exaggerated and sensational news coverage from Guateaala; during theasas awarereat deal of bitter resentment on the part of both government officials and antl-govemmeat cltlteas. There is sore sensitivity toress releases than one vould imagine likelyountry so Isolated in other ways;
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* #EOriginal document.