818.00/1333: Telegram

The Minister in Costa Rica (Eberhardt) to the Secretary of State

16. This afternoon there have been nearly 6 hours of heavy fighting with rifles, machine guns and some artillery. Casualties unknown. A Castroist, risking bullets from members of garrison, took refuge under the Legation where he is at present. He states that the garrison is supplied with food and munitions but that there is dissension in their ranks among whom [are] some 200 desperate Nicaraguans, Salvadoreans and Mexicans who are in control. He states that they have already killed several of the garrison and Fernando Castro Cervantes advised me that Castro Quesada no longer commands and his own life and that of Baudrit are in jeopardy. Many of these desperate men left the garrison last night on a foraging expedition and have led street fighting during the day. Many more have since left and are threatening to sack the city tonight. I have informed the Government of the plot and the military authorities say they are ready for them. This group of desperados is made up largely of Nicaraguans held at Coyalar to whom reference was made [Page 518] in a recent despatch and coincident with their activity here in San José there has been plundering of several commissaries of the United Fruit Company and small shops in the Limón district by men who are believed to have been at least indirectly connected with the Bella Vista insurrection. Yesterday they were estimated to number 20, today official information places their number at 80 who are headed for the stores and dynamite supply near Siquirres. The Governor of Limón has asked the President for 200 rifles and 2,000 rounds of ammunition with which to arm local men. It is feared that some of these men fresh from recent incidents in Mexico and Salvador will find the local situation a fertile field for the doctrines and practices of communism.

One well-placed artillery shell this afternoon brought from the Bella Vista Garrison the threat to bombard the city if repeated. The Government gave orders to cease the bombardment but has advised Castro Quesada that if he does not surrender by noon tomorrow Bella Vista will be razed. The military commanders have issued orders that nobody shall appear on the streets after 1 o’clock tonight and no vehicles whatever will be permitted on the streets without the Government’s special permission. A news bulletin announced that the Government has ordered all civilians from the city by noon tomorrow.

The Legation building, in the center of the line of battle, has received many direct hits outside and inside and is without light, telephone communication or electric power for cooking and heating. Mr. Werlich succeeded in returning to the Legation through the lines of fire and he and Mr. Trueblood are now marooned there. Major Harris and clerk Zweig returned through the same lines with a code and are assisting me at hotel coding messages. The Government has asked Panama to send two bombing planes and certainly needs outside help.