NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE ESTIMATE
The Danger of Subversion in Honduras
Svbatfd byIRECTOR OF CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE ConcwrW in by tmt
UNITED STATES INTELLIGENCE BOARD Ai Indteohsd omttaf4
The) following InttWgMM organizations participatmd In tho preparationestlmahtt
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Director of krtelllgenoe and Research, Department of State' DJecto.'. Detente bueiligeoce Agency -
AssUtant Chief of Staff for hreffigenee. Deportment of Ae Army Asshtanf Chief of Naval Operartomrjeporhmarrt of thessistant Chief of Staff, Intelligence,irector of the National Security Agency
The Atomic Energyto the USIB, and the Assistant Dl-
. rector, Federal Bureauthe wb|ed being outside of '
ThU material contain! Information a' within the meaning of tbe ei: mission or revelation
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NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE ESTIMATE
The Danger of Subversion in Honduras
THE DANGER OFIN HONDURAS
In the short run, the only potential threat to the military regime in Honduras wouldalling out among its leaders. There are indications of growing tensions within the ruling group.terrorist acts will almost certainly continue, but, unless and until the Communists and pro-Castroites improve their own capabilities for subversion and gain the cooperation of theLiberals and other political groupings, the regime can handle any subversive threat they try to mount. The Liberals and the mass labor organizations, for their part, will probably avoid violence so long as they have reasonable grounds to hope for an eventual return tothe regime now promises forhould they lose this hope and conclude that the Lopez regime is bent on indefinite tenure and suppressive rule, they would in time probably join with thein subversive activities.
Isypical "bananats firstwith representative government took place during theyears under the administration of President Villeda Morales andParty; this experiment cameudden end whenousteduick but bloody military coupVilleda, the military forces, traditionally the final arbiters ofpolitics,onsUtutionally privileged position abovecontrol. While the Villeda regime made only meager progressestablishmentruly representative government, Itsa considerable Improvement over the pollUcal despotism,and Inefficiency that characterized earlier Honduran
The October coup was led by the Armed Forces commander, Colonel Oswaldo Lopez, now head of the regime, and the Air Force commander. Lieutenant Colonel Armando Escal6n. The military leaders expressed concern about the Villeda government's failure to take strong measures against the local Communists. Their primary motivation, however, was concern that their privileged status would have been endangered if, as appeared almost certain, Modesto Rodas Alvarado, the Liberal Party candidate, was chosen as President In tho elections scheduled forctober. Villedaodus Vivendi with the military leaders, who were traditionally ln sympathy with the Nationalist Party, the chief rival of the Liberals. Rodas, however, gave the military reason to fear that he would try to build up further the Liberal-oriented Guardia Civil at the expense of the Armed Forces. Military units had clashed with elements of the Guardia Civil ever since the latter was created
The military quickly consolidated Its power and Is now In firmof the country. The Guardia Civil has been replacedpecial Security Corps under Escalon. who Is now the Defense Minister as well as commander of the air force. The regime has also arrested some Communists and exiled others, and Ln general has disrupted the activities of the relatively weak Honduran Communist Party. Finally, in response to internal pressures and Ln the interest of gaining US recognition (which
1 Honduras, with0 square miles.tile smaller tn area than Pennsylvania. The Honduran population, of about two million, Is predominantlyercent) and aboutercent Illiterate. The economy is the least developed In central America (ONP:9 pert depends heavily upon exports of bananas, coffee, aad timber.
was grantedopez haslan for restoringby
In the abort run, tne only potential threat to the regime wouldalling out among the military leaders. Important military figures (as well aa several civilian cabinetesentful of the influence of Lopez' longtime chief adviser, Rlcardo Zuniga, may have requested his ouster. Zuniga has antagonised them by Interposing himselfLopez and their counsel, and by placing his own supporters in many key positions. Most notably, this has offended Escalon, anand forceful figure, who eventually mightoup against Lopez. If he should do ao, he might receive support from someNationalists as well as from some Liberals. There have been indications that several militaryLieutenant Colonel Bnrlquo Soto Cano, second in command Ln the air force, who may speak forconferred with Liberal, leaders on the possibility of ousting Lopez and establishing an all-party government.
The Security Forces. The Honduran Army numbersen. the Air Force. The projected strength of the Special Security Corps Is. There la no naval force. The armya battalion ln the capital area, but the bulk of its forces are widely dispersed. The air force's well-trained and disciplined personnel, as well asncludesistonconcentrated Ln the Tegucigalpa area. These forces are capable of maintaining internal security under normal conditions. Shortcomings In communications and mobility would limit their ability to counter effectively any sizable guerrilla activity which might develop. Without outside assistance, they could not cope withorganized, widespread disorders, nor could theyetermined Intrusion by Castro-Co mm unlst elements,
III. OPPOSITION FORCES
he Liberal Partyhe PL la the major opposition force confronting tlie regime, but Its leadership Is now separated and of!Former President Villeda and presidential candidate Rodas have gone Into exile, while most of the other Party leaders arc still lnRodas' plans, as well as those of the radical wing of the PL that strongly supported him. are not yet clearly defined; some radicals In the PL favor subversive activities against the regime. In contrast. Villeda. who had bitterly opposed Rodas' nomination, may entertain some hopes that eventually be can himself return and regain control. The top level PL leadership ln Honduras has accepted the regime's planseturn to constitutionality and has agreed to serve on the Electoral Commission. InL convention will choose the Party's leaders for the next two years. The choices made will be Indicative of the Party's future attitude toward the regime, and, Ln turn, will condition the military's attitude toward the Party.
Labor. The labor unions initially condemned the Lopez regime and have refused to serve on the Electoral Commission; Celeo Gonzalez. President of the North Coast Labor Federation, even hinted strongly attrike. At present, however, he appears to have accepted the more moderate counsels of the Liberals and of Oscar Gale, head of SITHATKRCO (the largest union in the United Fruit Company and dominant member in theithouttrike is not likely and would not be effective If it were tried. Even withtrike might not be successful because the unions lack organization and control ln key transportation and communications sectors.
The Communists. Before the coup there may have been as manyembers in the Communistoung Conununistsf these onlyould have been considered hard-core. In addition, there wereympathizers. The Communists control the University Reform Front, one of the two principal student organizations, and have some influenceewly formed Liberal student group. The PCH also exercises strong Influence on El Cronitta. the daily newspaper with the largest circulation In Honduras. Although the PCH still has influence in the unions, before the coup they had lost control of STTRASFRUCO. the unaffiliated and largest union In the Standard Fruit Company. Since then another union (SIPFA) has ousted the leading Communists from Its ranks .
The PCH has severalandmilitate against an immediate resort to all-out subversion. It has notrue revolutionary party, having avoided subversive or other provocative action ln order toeasure of toleration under Villeda. (Its lack of revolutionary zeal has been criticized by other Ccntral American Communistoreover, the PCH has been weakened by Internal dissension caused by the personallstic andtendencies of Its leaders, Dlontslo Bcjarano and Luis Ziinlga (no relation tohe Party has also been hampered by lack of funds andell-developed communications system, which haseffective central control.
even before the coup, there were Indicationsbecause of pressure from the more extremistmovingore active and Independent position: ltits activities among the peasants with some success. Itthe quality and militancy of its membership byCuba over the past two years wellundred HQndurans.whom received guerrilla training there. Thus far, the resultsmore apparent ln the field of propaganda than In Recently,oosely organised group of youths, students,
Communists, and left-wing Liberals known as the Integrated Movement of Liberation (MIL) has carried out some bombings ln the capital
National lAberatlon Fronthe FLN is angroup of guerrilla bandits operating In the wild and remotearound the Honduran-Niairaguan border. This group,received support from Castro. Is composed of Nicaraguanmalcontents and adventurers. Communists, and perhapsCubans. The Cuban support has been primarily in the formpropaganda, and some financial aid. FLN activities havealmost exclusively at Nicaragua rather than at Honduras.has had no notable success in undermining the NlcaraguanWith the military in power ln Honduras, the FLN mayto recruit disaffected elements and promote guerrilla forays
RUN PROSPECTS FOR SUBVERSION
opposition group now appears both willing and able toeffective challenge to the regime. The extreme leftists havethemselves capable of some terrorist activities and willcontinue them. In general, however, extreme leftisthas scant prospects for success in the short run. The PCHsome tune to regroup Its scattered assets and to recast Itssubversive lines. Furthermore, so long as the PL and therefuse to accept subversioneans of opposition, we dothat the radical left canubversive campaignto weaken the regime In any significant way. For nameleast, the Liberals and organized labor are not likely tothe extremists, If only because they believe that theirregaining power are best served by nonviolent opposition.
RUN THREATS TO THE PRESENT REGIME
the long run. subversion by the extreme left may findground. Honduras has many of the classic Ills of lisproportion of the populationed. ill housed, and tila rising level of aspirations exploitable by extremists.Communists, though temporarily put off balance, have notWith Its quasi-legal position gone, the PCH Is moreresort to insurrection. The deportation of old line Communistalready given the pro-revolutionary and pro-Castro JCHpositions In the Party. It will certainly intensify ItsInfiltrate and to Influence the labor unions and the radicalthe PL. It may also cooperate more closely with the FLN lnactivities. These efforts would be facilitated If an Ineptregime were to alienate public oplnon.
The Communists will probably be able toizable number of hand weapons, since most Hondurans possess them. There may also be some Communist caches of weapons in the country. There is an increased possibility that, Ii the PCH gives evidence of being fully conunitted to subversion,possibly extremist groups inorattempt to provide it with arms and supplies.'
The military regime will take more forceful action againstthan did Villeda. Its antisubverslve efforts will be handicapped, however, by Honduras' poor transportation and communications system. The countryside affords numerous sate havens for guerrilla forces. Moreover, the new Security Corps Is untried and untrained in checking organized subversion and, in combating lt, might resort to suchmeasures as would antagonize the general population.
The seriousness of the situation tn Honduras will depend largely on whether labor and the Liberals continue their nonviolent tactics or turn to cooperating with the Communists. The crucial factor In this situation Is the regimes ownthose of the Communists. If the regime resorts to excessively repressive measures, the general population would become more susceptible to revolutionary Incitements. Furthermore, should the Lopez regime attempt to perpetuate Itself ln power or toationalist regime by manipulation or outright violation of the electoral process, the Liberals and the labor forces would probably turn to subversive action and be receptive to Communistand influence. If it chose to,nited Honduran military could probably maintain Itself in power against that kind of opposition for an indefinite period.
Honduras ia lessile* from Cuba. Ita long, largely unguardedcoast Is open to the clandestine Introduction of arms, supplies, or evenThere Is already extensive smuggling, possibly including some anus, Into Honduras from other Central American states and* map, facing page L>
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