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

No. 102

Sir: I have the honor to report that on August 6, 1947, General Rene Picado, Secretary of Public Security, came to call upon me in connection with a visa matter involving certain Polish relatives of his.

During the course of the conversation he made certain rather interesting remarks:

[Here follow remarks on the Rio Conference, re-inauguration of President Trujillo, General Picado’s visit to the United States, and the Presidential designates.]

Costa Rican Arms Situation

General Picado said that during the last two weeks34 the Costa Rican Army had fired only its old ammunition, that is, certain ammunition [Page 596] which had been bought through Raúl Gurdián from Mexico. He said that they still had some three million rounds left of this old ammunition. He said that none of the new ammunition had been used, and that there were about three million rounds of this new ammunition.

I asked him how much Lend-Lease armament had been used in the last two weeks. He said no Lend-Lease arms at all had been used. He said that the only sub-machine guns used had been Swiss Neuhausen, and that the only Thompson sub-machine guns used were pre-war stock.

He told me that he had purchased commercially from the United States some 25 Colt .45-calibre automatics, and that these automatics had arrived in Port Limon yesterday or the day before. He said that they had just completed negotiations and signature on a deal with the Madsen Arms factory of Denmark. He reminded me that a representative of this firm had been in Costa Rica within the last five weeks. He said that they bought 50 light machine guns from this firm. He said that delivery of these machine guns would be completed by October 15, 1947, and that they would be brought over by the Dutch KLM Airlines as air freight.

He said that he had originally planned to buy these machine guns in the United States, but that after a rebuff from Washington he had decided that it would be better to try to buy his arms elsewhere. He said that he had been interested in Mexican arms but that he had found the Mexicans unwilling to help him. He said that he had then turned to Argentina, but found that Argentine prices were too high. Accordingly, he said, he had only one alternative, and that was to buy from Europe.

Parenthetically, he remarked that he was able to buy all the arms he needed from Europe, and would be forced to do so if we continued in our present refusal of authorization for the Government of Costa Rica to buy arms in the United States.

It is perhaps pertinent to remark that, irrespective of where he buys his arms, the general public will assume that they came from the United States.35

Respectfully yours,

John Willard Carrigan
  1. See documentation on the disturbed political situation, pp. 578 ff.
  2. In despatch 103, August 8, 1947, Mr. Carrigan referred to the often-made charge that the lend-lease arms which the United States furnished for continental defense were being used in the suppression of civic liberties in Latin America, and added: “As far as the Embassy is aware, with the exception of two weapon carriers, no arms furnished Costa Rica under the Lend-Lease Act were used by the government during the recent civic disobedience campaign. As a matter of fact, in the case of Costa Rica, it is felt that a grossly exaggerated idea exists in the public mind as to the quantity of arms and equipment actually supplied as lend-lease equipment.” (818.24/8–847)