Memorandum of Conversation, by the Chief of the Division of Central America and Panama Affairs (Newbegin)

Participants: Sr. Francisco de P. Gutiérrez, Ambassador of Costa Rica
Mr. Paul C. Daniels, Director for ARA
Robert Newbegin—CPA

Ambassador Gutiérrez called this morning to bring Mr. Daniels up to date on Costa Rican developments. He stated that at present the Figueres’ group of Ulate’s supporters represented the extreme right. The majority of Ulate’s supporters and the majority of the Republican party constituted the center, while the Vanguardia was the extreme left. He stated that what was needed was a solution agreeable to the center group, and that if one were reached, it was to be assumed that the extreme right and left would normally be an unimportant factor. He stated categorically that neither Calderon nor Ulate would become president.

Ambassador Gutiérrez said that his Government was much concerned over Guatemalan intervention. He added that his Government had suspected that Guatemala was playing a part in present disturbances, but had had no proof until yesterday when it had seized arms packed in boxes with the legend “República de Guatemala, Secretaría de Defensa Nacional”. Others apparently bore the mark of the “Quetzal”, the Guatemalan national bird. He mentioned the fact that this had been brought to the attention of the diplomatic corps by Foreign Minister Bonilla Lara. He suggested that Arévalo1 was interested in conquering all of Central America.

In passing, Ambassador Gutiérrez referred to the Belize dispute2 and Guatemala’s request for Costa Rican support. He said it was folly to anticipate that Costa Rica would take a position against her friend Great Britain and in favor of Guatemala, who was hostile to Costa Rica.

[Page 497]

The question of assistance from Nicaragua was touched upon. The Ambassador defended with some heat the action of the Nicaraguan Government and said there was no parallel whatsoever between the Guatemalan and the Nicaraguan positions in this instance. He pointed out that under the Habana Convention Guatemala was obliged not to assist the opposition group, whereas the same Convention provided for the right of a country to defend itself and that it was entirely proper for a friendly country to provide assistance to a recognized Government upon request.

Ambassador Gutiérrez then inquired what the position of the U.S. would be if the Costa Rican Government asked us for military support. Mr. Daniels parried this question as being hypothetical and expressed the hope that he would not be given any more problems.

Ambassador Gutiérrez then reverted to the domestic angle of the crisis and suggested that it would be very desirable for the U.S. to do something about it. Mr. Daniels asked what we might do taking into consideration our fixed policy of non-intervention in internal affairs.… It was agreed that it would most certainly be desirable to find a solution agreeable to the major parties and the Costa Rican people at this time rather than waiting until a decision was reached on May 1 by the Congress in accordance with normal constitutional provisions.

Mr. Daniels in emphasizing that we did not wish to intervene in Costa Rica’s internal affairs stated that he would take the possibility of an approach to Picado under consideration. He said, if anything was done, it would have to be on the basis of Ambassador Davis’ refraining from proposing any specific solution.

R[obert] N[ewbegin]
  1. Juan José Arévalo, President of Guatemala.
  2. For documentation on this subject, see p. 81.