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

No. 79

Sir: I have the honor to refer to despatch No. 78 of July 29, 1947, transmitting a copy of a letter12 which had been sent to the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, the Papal Nuncio, on July 28th by a group of pro-Ulate medical men.

The previous day Dr. Alberto Oreamuno, Ulatista, informed Mr. Carter of the Embassy staff13 that 200 United States-educated doctors, lawyers, and other professional men, all Ulatistas, proposed to come to the Embassy in a body to protest against the Government and to explain their views concerning the proposed demonstration which was to take place against closed stores and businesses.

The Embassy was naturally disturbed by this report. At that time Government troops and police were breaking up groups of more than three or four persons, and for a group of 200 persons suddenly to appear in front of the Embassy might have created serious trouble in which the Embassy might very easily have been involved, particularly since the police would have attempted to disperse these men by force. Undoubtedly, whatever attitude we would have taken would have been susceptible to misinterpretation, probably by both sides.

With this in mind, I arranged for Dr. Oreamuno to call at the Embassy. I explained the neutrality of our position, and went on to say that if such an attempt were made and the Embassy found itself involved in any difficulties, we could not feel that Ulate was without blame. At the same time I referred to a story which appeared in the Diario de Costa Rica, Ulate’s own paper, concerning the departure of Ambassador Donnelly (Embassy’s telegram No. 356 of July 27th14), in which the Diario had indicated its assurance that the Ambassador’s journey was connected with the present political situation in Costa Rica. I also referred to other comments in the Diario involving the military mission. I said that we were really doing our best to be neutral, and that I found it particularly unfortunate to read stories such as this in a local newspaper. I said that we had made it very clear, not only to the Government but also to Dr. Oreamuno himself, that we did not intend to have the slightest partiality for either side, and that this was still our position, and that it was somewhat annoying to find people trying to drag us in against our will.

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With respect to the proposal that a large group of professional men come in to the Embassy to talk politics with us, I said that I did not feel that this would be a particularly friendly act. I said that I was not prepared to talk politics. I said I would always be very happy to see Dr. Oreamuno or any other distinguished professional Costa Rican, but that in doing so I wished to avoid any action which might indicate that I were taking sides. For this reason, I told him that if this group should call at the Embassy I would refuse to discuss politics with them, and might even refuse to see them.

Dr. Oreamuno told me that he was very sorry that this had come up and that he had not realized the possible consequences. … He said that instead of these men calling on me, a letter would be addressed to the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps. In this connection, the letter transmitted with my despatch No. 78 is the one referred to. It is interesting to note that this letter was considerably toned down.

With respect to articles which might appear in Ulate’s newspapers involving the Embassy, Dr. Oreamuno assured me that during this present critical period any article which might appear in the Ulate newspapers would be personally cleared by Otilio Ulate if it mentioned the Embassy. He pointed out that this would mean that Ulate himself would take the responsibility for anything that was said. I said that I felt that this was a very wise approach to this matter and that, in the premises, he might dismiss from his mind any thought that there might be annoyance on our part for what had been done. Since that time the Embassy has not been bothered.

Parenthetically, I asked the Nuncio what he had done with the note. He said that he had filed it away. I told him that I felt this was a simple and effective solution of a matter which really did not concern the Corps.

Respectfully yours,

John Willard Carrigan
  1. Neither printed.
  2. Albert E. Carter, Cultural Attaché.
  3. Not printed.