810.20 Defense/2074: Telegram

The Minister in Guatemala ( Des Portes ) to the Secretary of State

69. In accordance with Department’s telegram number 228 of December 13, 8 p.m.,3 understanding was reached covering several aspects of United States airbase in Guatemala, but it did not specifically [Page 434] envisage permanent construction projects. General Andrews4 has latterly decided that construction of some 80 buildings at Guatemala City and San José is essential for housing. Approximately 1000 army engineers have arrived for purpose and they desire to let contracts immediately. General Andrews and the engineers strongly feel that the agreement covering permission for erection of buildings and their cites [sites?], etc., should take shape of formal undertaking between Legation and Guatemalan Government. Construction program thoroughly acceptable in principle to Guatemalan authorities.

Since engineers wish commence work immediately and complete it in 60 days it is most urgent that Department advise me at once by telegraph whether I am authorized to exchange notes with Foreign Office incorporating understanding apparently desired by War Department representatives.

Des Portes
  1. Foreign Relations, 1941, vol. vi, p. 56.
  2. Lt. Gen. Frank M. Andrews, Commanding General, Caribbean Defense Command.