718.5/6–2151

The Chargé in Costa Rica ( Williams ) to Mr. Fred G. Heins of the Office of Middle American Affairs

secret
official—informal

Dear Fred: With further reference to Costa Rica’s desire to obtain military equipment and your memorandum of conversation on June 14,1 I had lunch with Dr. Oreamuno yesterday. During the course of this luncheon he brought up his visit to Washington and the fact that he had had a letter from his brother reporting on the above conversation and the note2 presented. Although the doctor seemed to be still hoping and looking for some way for Costa Rica to get these arms without paying for them, or paying for them on time, he seemed resigned to the fact that this was out of the question and they would have to find the cash.

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Repeatedly he emphasized the need for the Government to have these arms and have them quickly. I am writing you in another letter about his views on Figueres, but he expressed his belief, in the strongest terms, that Figueres intended to be the next President. If Figueres won the elections fairly, Ulate would turn the government over to him and that would be that. On the other hand, if the voting went against Figueres, the doctor was sure that Don Pepe would cause trouble and forcibly try to take over. The doctor repeated several times that the only possible way to avoid this trouble was for this Administration to have the new military equipment in its possession. He emphasized that the Government had no decent arms—none had been left it. On the other hand, by apparent mistake, it did have control of 80% of the ammunition for the arms that had disappeared. If it got the new equipment, it could protect itself and the Figueristas would be unable to get this ammunition without which a successful revolt would be impossible. He looked upon obtaining the new equipment from the States as preventive medicine.

The doctor stated that it was urgent for him to receive a reply from his brother on the cost and availability of the arms. Once he had this information he stated he would be able to discuss the matter more thoroughly with President Ulate and in one way or another they would obtain the cash to purchase some, if not all, of the material. With information on availability and how long it would take to obtain delivery on various types of equipment, they would be able to draw up a priority schedule. If the terms of purchase have to be cash, he wants to be told so; although as I said earlier he hopes some way can be worked out for a down payment to be made when the arms are delivered and the balance due paid over a period of time. He asked me to write to you informally in the hope that you might be able to speed up the reply to the Costa Rican note as he feels the matter is so urgent every day counts.3

Sincerely yours,

Phil
  1. Not printed (718.56/6–1451).
  2. Reference to Costa Rican note No. SD/0–34, addressed to Secretary of State Dean G. Acheson, dated June 13, 1951, indicating that Costa Rica wished to dispose of, by sale or transfer, its present military equipment and to acquire new equipment from the United States; a copy of the note is attached to 718.5–MAP/7–2651.
  3. In a letter to Assistant Secretary of the Army Bendetsen, dated July 26, 1951, not printed, Mr. Miller requested the Department of the Army to take expeditious action in completing the pricing and availability survey in connection with the list of arms submitted by Costa Rica (718.5-MAP/7–2651).