148. Memorandum for the Record1


  • Calligeris
The following comments and opinions regarding Calligeris are being submitted for the record to assist in any possible future evaluation of his personality. The basis for these remarks is the following: a ten day personal association in January 1954, a six day personal association in April 1954, a review of Subject’s correspondence with [name not declassified] during the period January-May 1954, and a résumé of [name not declassified]’s remarks during the above noted period.
Calligeris, initially an unknown, undistinguished Lt. Col. in the Guatemalan army, became involved in the Junta when [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] the military leader of the anti-communist Guatemalan forces in exile.
Prior to this time Calligeris’ most overt act against the regime had been an abortive revolutionary movement which was triggered by the assassination of Col. Arana, a close friend of Calligeris. Calligeris’ coup against the government became known before any action could be taken and resulted in his imprisonment. His subsequent “heroic” escape from prison was arranged entirely [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]. Safehouse personnel have testified that outside forces even knew the exact hour when Calligeris would be sprung and were waiting for him in a car outside of the prison area.
It was not long after this that [name not declassified], in search of an army leader who was willing to join an anti-government movement, [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] Calligeris as the battle leader of the anti-communist forces with headquarters in Honduras. That this group, with Calligeris as its military leader, left much to be desired, is clearly evidenced by three separate, costly abortive attempts by the Calligeris forces to succeed in a coup against the Guatemalan Government: all of these attempts failed at the 11th hour because the promised military elements inside the country did not fulfill their reported promises to support Calligeris.
[2 lines of source text not declassified] determined to assure all possible controls and support be given to Calligeris since he was no longer certain that Calligeris possessed sufficient background to command [Page 283]such a technical, military-political operation. For these reasons [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] that Calligeris follow the orders of the Group’s advisers, whether they be military, intelligence, or propaganda.
This brings to light a Calligeris personality trait which is now clearly recognizable. He is a firmly stubborn man who in the face of indisputable evidence is prone to maintain his own point of view. The manner in which he defends his own decisions is interesting. Personal experience has shown that Calligeris will yield readily on general points and appear to be most willing to conciliate, promising that changes as suggested will be carried out. However, his execution of the details of any agreement will be as he sees fit. This completely modifies his original agreement with general plans. His geographical position plus the lack of a group contact with him who can effectively assure his completion of activities, has given him reason to believe that he can modify to suit his own desires any orders or instructions from [name not declassified] or the Group. It should be pointed out that Calligeris has not developed this line of thinking with an altogether malicious intent. Delays, lack of decisions, reversal of decisions by the Group have tended to increase his necessity to take the initiative when he, from his Honduran outpost, saw the necessity for some course of action.
The undersigned now realizes that Calligeris, when shorn of intelligence and propaganda responsibilities in January 1954,2 keenly resented this decision to which he agreed without any undue enthusiasm. His subsequent actions soon abrogated the agreement in such a direct manner that his excuses of a lack of adequate communication [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] only made the case more obvious. In the end the Group yielded to Calligeris’ wishes, thus giving him a clear idea that if he persisted his ideas would be accepted.
This same trait of stubbornness has carried over into his defense of his subordinates: in many cases he has selected well [1 line of source text not declassified] but in other outstanding cases his closest advisers have proved to be outright traitors or at best dubious recipients of the high confidence he has placed in them. In the two known cases of Delgado and Secaira, Calligeris—under the increasing pressure of the Group or subordinates in his group to examine more closely their loyalty—has become proportionately more loyal in defending the suspects, or at least he was in no way willing to sever his connections with them. An explanation for this perverse loyalty is the fact that both men in the past made many open and also fervent pledges of loyalty to Calligeris. These demonstrations apparently have a great deal of influence with Calligeris and have clouded his logic. The important lesson to be gained [Page 284]from these examples by the Group is that if in the future Calligeris is elevated to high responsibilities, selfish and cunning men will soon grasp this key of obtaining and maintaining favor with Calligeris. By their constant demonstration of loyalty, they can maintain positions with little or no real talent. It will behoove the Group to aid in every manner in order to see that Calligeris is surrounded by sincere men.

The undersigned believes that Calligeris has the mentality and sufficient personal ambition to aspire to the job of being the new Guatemalan strong man. He has previously insisted that the temporary government last two years, preferring the three years period. Steps to simmer down such desires should be initiated at once. He should be confronted as soon as possible, with the outline of the temporary government which will indicate his limited authority. [name not declassified] is in the process of preparing this. [name not declassified] is fully aware that strong personalities will be needed to surround Calligeris and simultaneously [name not declassified] is in the midst of recruiting capable individuals. The Group should maintain at Calligeris’ Headquarters a Senior Representative who in effect would be the “stern” man who is primarily concerned with the political and diplomatic activities of the Calligeris Headquarters.3 Remembering that Calligeris operates on the principle of extending where there is no barrier, the submission of the temporary government organization, with solid backing from Group to support such a government and nothing else, should be hammered home by a capable representative of the Group who would be stationed at his Headquarters. This action constitutes one effective step which can be taken now, before D-Day. Also, the immediate inclusion of other Guatemalan military men of stature as may result from the K-Program in the Junta Headquarters will tend to reduce Calligeris’ stature.

a. The above suggestions are no guarantee that Calligeris will remain bounded by any agreement reached before D-Day but it will considerably increase the moral force which can be brought to bear upon him after he is installed.

Calligeris, in the undersigned’s opinion, could not last too long in the rough and tumble of Guatemalan politics without the support of the men [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]. From the visible support which he has received to date, he counts on not too many military men. He could expect no support from the elements of the present regime. Any alienation of the [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] would estrange him immediately with individuals more conservative than the [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]. Calligeris would [Page 285]therefore be dependent on a very small base of people who have resided with him in exile. It is not logical that such a small element of people, few of whom have had political experience, could long survive the ordeal of righting the “mess” made by the communists. A representative from Group, properly installed, could easily in the course of a few weeks, make the above points painfully clear to Calligeris.
[name not declassified]
  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Job 79–01025A, Box 8, Folder 5. Secret. Drafted by [name not declassified] on May 14 for C/P and DC/P.
  2. See Documents 89, 91, and 92.
  3. A handwritten marginal note reads: “Worth considering and if good man available. [initial not declassified] could try to work it out with C. given some support for us.”