220. Telegram From the Central Intelligence Agency to the CIA Station in Guatemala1

05857. For JMBLUG from Ascham.

Whiting and I have given most careful attention to your messages, particularly GUAT 906 (IN 19969) and GUAT 919 (IN 20161).2 We have sincere respect for your judgment and our failure to act on specific recommendation was due to overriding considerations. In the type of operations which we conduct there are certain limitations. We do not take action with grave foreign policy implications except as agent for the policy makers.
We share your appraisal of Calligeris’ assets and we recognized this from the beginning. The purpose of the Calligeris action was primarily to make a show of strength which would give army the opportunity which [name not declassified] and others indicated they needed. We feel this has been done. In fact the repercussions of Calligeris’ action to date have been greater than we had anticipated. We felt particular action recommended would play into hands of Arbenz and co. and be merely another stunt. The fact that the Guat case has been largely developed in the UN and through the press on the false basis of bombing and strafing at Guat city, which clearly disprovable, tends to bear this out.
We cannot put the foreign posture of the country at the mercy of the demand of one army officer who refuses to accept other evidence which should be far more persuasive than one bomb for which follow–up potential did not exist. Here our judgment may or may not have been correct but circumstances of situation left us little alternative.
The developing situation, however, may create future opportunities where bombing of oil storage tanks or some clear military objective at Adam could be considered, although have some doubts as to over-all wisdom of this step. We will be glad to get your views.
Unless substantial elements of the army show signs of coming over the Calligeris effort may well be crushed although we do not propose to discount this effort as yet or fail to give him all practical aid within our power. For some time we have been apprehensive that high army leaders did not look upon Calligeris with great favor as a potential future leader and may prefer someone within their own ranks now in the country. If so, our next move should be to exert all possible influence to persuade the army that their next target must be Arbenz himself if they are themselves to survive and not be reduced to the status of an organization controlled by Communist commissars while more “trustworthy” Communist elements obtain the arms and favors of the Arbenz government: and that if the army acts it, not Calligeris, will rule the country. Please give us your thoughts on this.
For Chief of Station: Please pass your comments along with those of JMBLUG.
  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Job 79–01025A, Box 9, Folder 2. Top Secret; Priority; RYBAT; PBSUCCESS. Drafted by Allen Dulles and cleared by Frank Wisner. Repeated to PBSUCCESS Headquarters in Florida.
  2. Telegram 906 is Document 208; telegram 919 was not found.