Memorandum of Telephone Conversation, by the Assistant Chief of the Division of Central America and Panama Affairs (Wise)


Mr. Carrigan7 called attention to his telegram 366 of July 288 concerning the looting of shops in San José. He said that no effort was [Page 581] being made to curb the looters and that there had been two or three cases of damage to stores owned by U.S. citizens. He said the attitude of police and Government was that the store owners were getting what they deserved because of noncompliance with the Presidential Proclamation directing that business houses re-open under penalty of loss of license. In this connection, Mr. Carrigan referred to his telegram 337 of July 24.9 He said he could confirm the fact that the police had been instructed not to interfere with looters. He said there would be a repetition of looting in San José today and that there had been rioting in Cartago last night which had likewise been uncontrolled by the police.

Mr. Carrigan said the situation was serious enough to warrant an official protest to the Government. His position is that during a situation of open public disorder our American business interests are entitled to protection. It is obvious that the firms failing to open business in compliance with the Government order would be subject to the penalty, but that the Government should not permit the extraction of penalties beyond the scope of law. Mr. Carrigan said that the Government was being very casual about the whole situation. I asked if there were any evidences of Communistic activities in the picture. He said there definitely were, because the Vanguardia partisans were particpating in the looting. I asked Mr. Carrigan whether he expected this situation to continue, and he replied that in his opinion it would for some time.

Mr. Carrigan said that unless he heard from the Department by return call, he would present an official note of protest immediately.

Mr. Carrigan asked that Ambassador Donnelly be advised that his family was well and that all was quiet in the vicinity of the Embassy residence.


Upon consultation with Ambassador Donnelly and Mr. Wright, Director of ARA, it was decided that Mr. Carrigan should be called immediately and informed that the official protest should be made informally and verbally. … It was decided also that Mr. Carrigan be instructed to approach Costa Rican authorities in a conciliatory attitude and with the statement that unless American interests were protected from further damage by disorderly elements, this Government would have to present a formal written protest.

M[urray] M. W[ise]
  1. In the absence of Ambassador Donnelly, Mr. Carrigan was acting as Chargé in Costa Rica.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Not printed.