The Acting Secretary of State to the Chargé in Guatemala (Cabot)
No. 462

Sir: Reference is made to your despatch no. 1344 of July 3, 1940 regarding possible military assistance to Guatemala.

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The presence of a United States military mission in Guatemala might serve a highly useful purpose in stabilizing the situation and in improving the armed forces of Guatemala, but in the absence of an official request from the Guatemalan Government for a military mission and of a survey of the defensive needs of the Guatemalan armed forces in this regard, no definite decision can be taken by this Government in the matter. However, anticipating the possibility of such a request the matter has been given preliminary consideration by the War Department, which has advised this Department informally that it is prepared in principle to accede to a request for a military mission of moderate size. Accordingly, if the matter is broached to you by the Guatemalan Government, you may say that you are confident that this Government would be glad to entertain an official request for such a mission and to give it every favorable and sympathetic consideration.

With regard to the supplying of arms, the surplus stocks of military matériel have been exhausted. At the present time a legislative proposal now before the Congress for consideration would include provision for financing the sale of arms on credits extended by appropriate agencies of this Government. Such arms would be of new manufacture, with the exception of such military matériel as would from time to time be declared surplus. You will be informed at a later date of the final decision of the Congress with respect to the possibility of supplying military and naval matériel by credits extended to the governments of the other American republics.

In your conversations with the Guatemalan authorities, you may extend unreserved assurance that the Government of the United States is prepared to give every possible consideration to any request which the Guatemalan Government may make for assistance and that in every possible manner this Government is willing to cooperate on behalf of common inter-American interests in accord with the resolutions and declarations of the Habana Conference.

For your strictly confidential information, in case disturbances of the character considered in your despatch under reference, namely a subversive movement or other attack upon the Guatemalan Government by foreign interests or parties favorable to those interests, should become threatening, arrangements will be discussed with the Navy Department for the sending of a destroyer or cruiser to a Guatemalan port.

Very truly yours,

Sumner Welles