The Guatemalan Minister for Foreign Affairs ( Salazar ) to the American Minister in Guatemala ( Des Portes )8

No. 4011

Mr. Minister: When Your Excellency and Colonel Serafín Montesinos9 were good enough to come to this Ministry to discuss the plan of cooperation by which Guatemala would take part in the defense of the Caribbean, I had the honor, under instructions from the President of the Republic, to present a counter-proposal10 which basically was in accord with the thought developed in the clauses of the proposal10 drawn up by the Caribbean Defense Command.

I also had the opportunity to give full explanations which justified the modification of some of the clauses of that proposal, as regards its external form, with the object of protecting ourselves—the Government of Guatemala as well as the great Republic to the North—from malicious comment from our enemies.

Nevertheless, it was necessary to propose an article of a compensatory character which seemed to be just to the President inasmuch as the assistance which is now asked of Guatemala and which the Republic will grant with pleasure, has substantially changed that which had previously been requested and likewise granted.

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I consider that the reasons which prevailed when that article was drawn up will have a part in forming a complete and exact concept of the contents of Article 18 of the counter-proposal of the Government of Guatemala. I desire to express these reasons in this Note with the request that they be incorporated in the report which Your Excellency will send to his Government in the matter.

I. When my Government requested that of Your Excellency to give to Guatemala as a loan certain armament in conformity with the Lend-Lease Act, the Department of State replied that the proposal seemed unilateral and that, in case Guatemala were given what it requested, the rights of the other Hispano-American Republics which had acquired armament through purchase in accordance with the draft contract which had been drawn up, would surely be injured.

The Department of State added that it could not make any transaction if the Government of the United States did not receive some compensation in money, work, or other form equivalent to money.

The Government of Guatemala believed on that occasion that it had offered cooperation which was of benefit, utility and advantage to the Government of the United States: The La Aurora airport had been placed at the disposition of the Government of the United States for military purposes; the open and unlimited concession had been granted for vessels and planes of war and for officers and troops of the United States crossing Guatemalan territory to do so without reservation and without prior notice, as they had previously done; the highways which crossed the country, particularly the Pan-American which is complete from the Mexican border to the border of El Salvador, as well as the railways which communicate between the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean and from the Mexican border to that of El Salvador, all were placed at the disposition of the United States Government.

The President of the Republic held various friendly conferences with Your Excellency, having explained that the Guatemalan Government needed certain armament for its local and limited use for the purpose of internal defense; such armament would be paid for at a reasonable price with money and for cash. But the additional armament which would certainly be required in the event that the Government of the United States needed the cooperation of armed troops which the Guatemalan Government could put under arms, to the number of 40,000 to 60,000 men, it was considered should, in equity, be loaned in accordance with the Lend-Lease Act to be returned at the termination of the conflict provided that they were in good usable and conserved condition. That which was destroyed, used or made useless, would then be paid for by the Government of the Republic.

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Such was the plan which was under study and which, with the kind assistance which His Excellency Minister Des Portes was good enough to offer since he considered the proposal of the Government of Guatemala to be just, awaited the final word which the Government of the United States might give.

II. At this stage of the matter, Colonel Montesinos brought a draft of the full plan by which the Republic of Guatemala and its Government was to grant to that of the United States, for the defense of the Caribbean and the Panama Canal principally, the concessions set forth in each of the articles or clauses which that draft contained.

The simple reading of the plan brought by Colonel Montesinos reveals that the assistance which the Guatemalan Government had voluntarily offered that of the United States, is augmented and amplified considerably:

lands adjacent to the airports of La Aurora in the City of Guatemala and those of the Port of San José would be occupied;

landing fields, offices, warehouses, barracks, etc., for military purposes would be constructed;

in the event the construction of new auxiliary airfields, barracks and other military installations become necessary, it shall be made the subject of a special agreement;

the Government of Guatemala would agree to facilitate the acquisition of land by means of declaring it to be of public utility in order that the military forces of the United States may rent or buy it, all or in part, as may be necessary;

the coast at Puerto Barrios, San José and other strategic points would be occupied for defense;

all ports, anchorages for vessels and seaplanes in the territory of the Republic, would be made available for the use of the United States.

Even though this last point would be under the heading of reciprocity, such reciprocity does not exist because the Government of Guatemala has no vessels, fleet and air squadrons to use ports and air fields of the United States.

This plan also requests the authorization of the Government of Guatemala to:

establish a North American military police;

grant permission to carry out any work useful to the North American troops;

the Government of Guatemala would agree to the organization of a supply commission for the purpose of assisting the construction of American military works, and this commission would lend itself to negotiating in the local market for the immediate provision of any materials which defense works require;

free from all payment of import duties or taxes, merchandise, equipment, etc., which may be brought for the use of the armed forces of the United States; and

permit the occupation of military zones for defense.

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III. The equitable principle of compensation had been used by the Government of the United States to deny to the Government of Guatemala the provision of armament required to cooperate with the United States forces.

It appears to be reasonable that the Government of Guatemala now invokes this principle, in order that it be granted as its property, the armament and munitions which are listed on list No. 1 which I had the honor to send to Your Excellency with a copy of the counterproposal of this Government; and that it be granted as a loan, the munitions and arms set forth in list No. 2, which I was pleased to send to Your Excellency, in entire conformity with the United States Lend-Lease Act.

I wish to invoke the perfect understanding which the Minister of the United States, His Excellency Mr. Des Portes, has of the Government of the Republic of Guatemala, in order that it may have the certainty that this Government is not animated in a spirit of gain or commercialism, which is very far from being the motive of its cooperation: operations of mutual advantage and equity are concerned, and by no means a unilateral gain that the Government of Guatemala in any form contemplates.

The sincerity which I owe to the good will and upright spirit of justice which I am pleased to recognize in His Excellency the Minister of the United States, leads me to hope that he will be the interpreter of the sentiments of my Government before the Government of the United States, in order that on discussing and studying the Guatemalan counter-proposal, a decision may be adopted which will be in accord with the sentiments of reciprocal friendship and decided assistance which guide the procedure of both Governments.

On this new occasion I beg of Your Excellency to accept the assurances of my highest consideration and singular appreciation.

Carlos Salazar
  1. Copy transmitted to the Department by the Minister in Guatemala in his despatch No. 2690, March 24; received March 27.
  2. United States Army officer, in Guatemala for the negotiation of a provisional agreement with Guatemala regarding United States Army bases in that Republic.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Not printed.