110.15 MI/7–750

The Chargé in Guatemala (Wells) to the Department of State


No. 13

Subject: Visit of Assistant Secretary Miller

Such reaction as has been observed as of today confirms the Embassy’s initial impression that the brief visit1 to Guatemala of the Assistant Secretary of State, Mr. Edward G. Miller, Jr., was both timely and constructive, promising future local developments favorable to a gradual elimination of Communist influences and a consequent improvement of relations with the United States.

The highlights of the visit were Mr. Miller’s frank talk with President Arévalo, during which the latter gave categoric assurances that Guatemala’s international position is one of support of the United States and the United Nations, and a well-attended press conference which afforded a good opportunity to focus public attention upon the harmful influence of the extremists upon Guatemala’s relations with the United States. A typical coverage of this press conference is the El Imparcial version enclosed with the Embassy’s Despatch no. 8 of July 6.2

[Here follow details of Mr. Miller’s itinerary.]

Call upon the Foreign Minister. The courtesy call upon Foreign Minister Ismael Gonzalez Arévalo turned out to be entirely protocolar in nature. Mr. Miller indicated his visit was of good will character and that he did not have anything particular in mind to discuss. The Foreign Minister showed no disposition whatsoever to turn the conversation to substantive matters. After about 45 minutes of pleasantries, the interview terminated and the party was escorted by the Chief of Protocol on a sightseeing tour of the National Palace while waiting for the five o’clock appointment with the President.

Interview with President Arévalo. The President, accompanied by the Foreign Minister, received Mr. Miller, Congressman Jackson,3 Mr. Rankin4 and me, in the grand ballroom. His manner was most cordial and informal. About fifteen minutes had been spent in an exchange of pleasantries when the President inquired as to when it is proposed to designate a replacement for Ambassador Patterson. As he later told press representatives, the Assistant Secretary said the matter is entirely in the hands of President Truman, giving Arévalo [Page 906] little cause for encouragement on this score. (I personally regard the President’s quisitiveness [sic] as another good indication that Guatemalan officialdom is greatly worried by our delay in appointing a new Ambassador. At the Fourth of July reception the following day, the Minister of Government, Licenciado Cesar Solis, put the same question to me, adding his opinion that our problems were “little problems”, solution of which would be facilitated by the arrival of another Ambassador.)

The turn of the conversation gave opportunity for Mr. Miller to express himself forcefully and frankly on the subject of relations with Guatemala, the overt anti-United States propaganda of extremists identified with the Government, and our determined policy of nonintervention in the internal affairs of this country. He said we have demonstrated every desire to cooperate, and, while understanding the difficult internal political problems with which the present regime must wrestle, it pains us to observe the constant anti-imperialistic propaganda directed against us by the Guatemalan press and radio, frequently identified with the Government. He mentioned specifically the pro-Communist Diario de la Mañana editorial on the Korean situation (Embtel 225 June 30).5 (On this, the Foreign Minister interposed the comment that said editorial indeed expressed a viewpoint contrary to the Government’s attitude; and later he told me he was especially pleased when Mr. Miller brought up the subject of the editorial since it would help his own efforts to do something about the policy of this semiofficial journal.)

The President responded with equal frankness and with apparent great sincerity. He admitted the existence of the extremists, but minimized their numbers and influence. In general, his explanations followed the familiar pattern of his previous analyses of the political situation. Guatemala is now enjoying democracy for the first time. The people are just now learning to express themselves politically. The leftists of all shades have supported his Government. His policy is one of tolerance; let them enjoy their liberty as long as they do not endanger the very existence of the new liberties. Their identities are known; come a crisis they will be rounded up within twenty-four hours. As customary with him, he cited cases by way of illustration. Speaking of the Diario de la Mañana editor (Julio Estrada de la Hoz), he said he “knew” him, and told the story, already known to the Embassy and reported to the Department, of how a columnist (Andrés Townsend, Peruvian Aprista exile), who writes for that journal, had trouble with the editor because the latter refused to publish an anti-Soviet article. He described the Diario de la Mañana as “protected” by the Government.

[Page 907]

Upon the international situation and Korea, the President was most categoric in assuring Mr. Miller that Guatemala’s position is one of complete support of the United States. Communism, he said, is neither adaptable to Guatemala’s agrarian population; nor would it be anything but stupid for Guatemala to take a pro-Soviet position; its destiny, he indicated, being of geographic necessity economically and politically tied to the United States and the Western Hemisphere.


Press treatment of the visit will be covered in separate reports. Reaction in diplomatic and non-official quarters has been unanimously favorable. Several members of the diplomatic corps, as well as a number of private Guatemalan citizens, have expressed to me their keen pleasure at the adroit and direct manner in which Mr. Miller focused press attention upon the Communist problem. Significantly, the usually hostile pro-Government press, has been editorially silent. The opposition press, as was to be expected, reacted most favorably.

It is believed the Korean situation added to the timeliness of Mr. Miller’s visit. The international situation unquestionably will help toward crystallizing the local political situation in respect to the extremists. It can be seen that Guatemala, perhaps reluctantly, is being forced to take an open position in support of the United Nations (and the United States) much to the discomfiture of the pro-Communists.

The Embassy is confident Mr. Miller’s visit, coinciding with international political developments which see the world rapidly aligning itself in one of two camps, will measurably strengthen the hands of the moderates and hasten the process of forcing the Communists into a separate group under their own banner.

Milton K. Wells
  1. Mr. Miller arrived in Guatemala at noon on July 3 and departed the following morning.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Donald L. Jackson of California, a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
  4. Forney A. Rankin, Public Affairs Adviser to the Bureau of Inter-American Affairs.
  5. Not printed.