Memorandum by the Acting Chief of the Division of Central America and Panama Affairs (Newbegin)5


Guatemalan Lend-Lease is being settled in accordance with the Acting Secretary’s memorandum of May 14, 1946, approved by President Truman. Guatemala was offered its share of the interim allocation, in return for full discharge of our obligation under the Lend Lease Program.

The list of equipment that constituted Guatemala’s “share of the interim allocation” was communicated to the Guatemalan Chargé on March 13. It consisted of military equipment for:

1 Battalion of Infantry
1 Battery Light Field Artillery
Aircraft: 4 C–47’s
3 C–45’s, AT–11’s or AT–7’s (Depending on availability)
6 AT–6’s
10 PT’s

Also the Chargé was told verbally that “aircraft would be accompanied by spare parts and equipment for ground crews insofar as they were available in surplus”.

By exchange of notes6 Guatemala accepted this proposal, with minor changes in types though not in number of aircraft.

The present Guatemalan note of September 17, 1946,7 requests approval for transfer of equipment for far more units than contemplated in the original interim allocation. The amount of equipment thus exceeds that approved by the President. This is the principal reason the reply to the request has been drafted in the negative.8

Moreover, the Guatemalan request is based on the assumption that the allocation of “spare parts and equipment for ground crews” should include an “Aircraft Base Maintenance Unit” valued under lend lease at $625,642.93. The Guatemalan representatives negotiating the settlement have admitted that such a Base Maintenance Unit far exceeds their needs and that they would be unable to maintain it and its diverse equipment. Not wanting to take the Maintenance Unit, they desire instead the credit of $625,642.93 to be applied to other equipment. [Page 888] This seems inconsistent both with the letter and the spirit of the agreement for settlement. The interim allocation strictly specified the ground forces that were to be equipped. It listed the aircraft and added that spare parts and “equipment for ground crews” would be transferred as available.

When the Guatemalan Military Attaché9 delivered the note, an officer of the Department observed that there were serious obstacles to approving the request for additional material. The Attaché replied that there seemed to be “no harm in trying”.

R[obert] N[ewbegin]
  1. Addressed to the Under Secretary of State (Acheson), the Assistant Secretary (Braden), the Deputy Director of the Office of American Republic Affairs (True-blood), and the Divisional Assistant, Division of Special Inter-American Affairs (Spencer).
  2. See footnote 4, p. 886.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Draft note not printed; see note of October 18 to the Guatemalan Ambassador, infra.
  5. Col. Oscar Morales López.