818.00/7–2947: Telegram

The Chargé in Costa Rica (Carrigan) to the Secretary of State

us urgent

372. Pursuant to Department’s instructions as contained in telephone call this morning, I called on Under Secretary Foreign Affairs11a just before noon. I told him my Government had instructed me to call and talk to him in the most conciliatory, friendly and informal way. I said I wished to invite his attention to possible effect of situation which prevailed yesterday and which might again prevail today upon United States private interests. I referred to proclamation of July 23 to effect that shops or other business institutions which remained closed would incur as a penalty for not having opened the loss of their operating licenses. I said that of course such a sanction would be predicated I assumed upon the maintenance by the appropriate authorities of a degree of order which would permit business institutions to open without fear of damage. I said that as he knew yesterday stores and other business institutions were broken into without there being any effort on part of police to stop the looting. I said that if a store or business institution through not opening were in fact violating the law of the land I assumed the only penalty applicable would be revocation of institution’s license to operate. I said I felt the mere fact of a store not opening would not prevent the police and other government authorities from affording protection.

At the same time I expressed once again our deep appreciation for the excellent and continued cooperation which has been given by authorities of Casa Presidencial and I expressed the confidence of our [Page 584] Government that adequate and effective protection would be afforded to United States interests in Republic of Costa Rica.

I found this an exceedingly difficult conversation. Under Secretary inquired why it was we had not complained in connection with an attack which had been started by Ulatistas against Perry Girton’s radio store (Perry Girton has been broadcasting for the government) and why it was that we had not complained in the case of breaking of windshield on Embassy’s pickup truck. He seemed to feel that we were being unfair.

He went on to the extent of remarking that once in New York he had been bitten by a dog on the leash of an intoxicated person and that while he had made every attempt to find a policeman in order obtain redress he had not been able to do so.

He seemed bent on having me make the statement that I considered the undisciplined mob of yesterday a group organization and under the control of the Government of Costa Rica. He seemed also bent on having me say the government was directing attacks on stores which remained closed. These instances are cited simply to show that there has been and is rather a startling attitude about this matter.

He went on to say that stores which refused to open were really outside the law and that no protection need be afforded them. Upon my demurring very forcefully insofar as American interests were concerned, he agreed that adequate protection should be afforded them. He said he would talk with the President and would let us have his views later this afternoon. He told me I could assure the Department that in event of any American store being threatened in any way, shape or form, we could ask for police protection and he would see that it was given. He inquired if we had a list of American business interests in Costa Rica and particularly in San José. Unfortunately, we do not have such a list and it is almost impossible prepare one, reason being there are many instances of Costa Rican business houses in which there are substantial American interests which would be naturally affected should the institution in question be damaged.

As matters now stand, we have his word every effort will be made to protect any American institution for which we may request protection.

With reference to events of yesterday, he told me that in the specific case that I personally had seen where the police did not interfere, they had failed to do so because of an error on their part. He said that in every other case the police had immediately intervened. I made no comment.

  1. The Under Secretary of State, Ricardo Fournier, was in charge during the absence of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julio Acosta.