286. Editorial Note

By the beginning of September 1954 all the major documentary sources in Guatemala, including the Foreign Ministry and the Communist Party, had been explored, but few incriminating documents were found. The Station in Guatemala concluded: “All sources agreed Commies and govt. implicated officials either destroyed or personally took out damaging documents. For example, Calligeris advised all Army G–2 files burned, which included Alfhem correspondence.” (Telegram 290 to the CIA, September 5, 1954; Central Intelligence Agency, Job 79–01025A, Box 168, Folder 7. See also memorandum dated September 3; ibid., Folder 10)

According to a Summary Progress Report dated September 28: “The PBHistory team reviewed more than 500,000 documents, not including several hundred thousand duplicate copies and illegible or semi-destroyed papers and masses of Communist propaganda, books, leaflets, and magazines.” But of that number, only 2,095 were duplicated and a further 50,000 microfilmed. While considering the overall mission a success, the report admitted that “very few” “Communist damaging” documents had been found. (Report attached to dispatch HGG–A–1375 from the Chief of Station in Guatemala to the Chief of the Western Hemisphere Division, October 1; ibid.)

Exploitation of the documents included their release to the press. The documents offered were printed by an “unusually cooperative” Guatemalan press, but “the editors made little embellishment of even the most provocative documents, unless suggestions, captions or stories written by the KUGOWN officer went with the photostatic copy.” (Ibid.) Attempts to publicize the findings throughout Latin America, however, were unsatisfactory. The report noted that only one news service had even carried the initial press release by the Minister of Propaganda. The others “felt the story was not ‘spot’ news, and consequently did not value it to the point of cable traffic.” (Ibid.) The conclusion reached was that the bulk of the documents “may be of value for research study.” (Memorandum, September 3; ibid.)