Cabot files, lot 56 D 13, “El Salvador”

The Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Cabot) to the Ambassador in El Salvador (McDermott)


Dear Mike: You will recall I mentioned to you before your departure for El Salvador that we have been trying since my visit to San Salvador in April to obtain from the Salvadoran authorities some concrete evidence of Guatemalan Communist efforts to infiltrate El Salvador. We have understood, for example, that Spanish Communists with Guatemalan official passports have been caught in subversive activities in [Page 1008] El Salvador, that several Guatemalan deputies have been similarly caught in subversive activities, and that a Guatemalan was caught in the tentative coup d’état in the late summer of 1952. The Salvadorans have as yet given us nothing to document these episodes, presuming that they happened.

In the course of our trip through South America,1 we took advantage of the opportunity to discuss the Guatemalan situation with several other governments, notably the Brazilian. The upshot of it was that other governments indicated a receptivity toward action against Guatemala in the OAS if proof of Guatemalan infiltration was forthcoming.

Perhaps the Salvadoran authorities do not have adequate documentary proof as yet of Guatemalan Communist efforts to infiltrate El Salvador with the connivance of the Guatemalan Government. Even in this case, I think it would be exceedingly helpful if the Salvadoran authorities would from now on be alert of the possibilities of building up a case. I do not think that the Guatemalans have stopped their efforts in that sense and I hope that the Salvadoran authorities may some time catch them in flagrante.

Could you let me know at your earliest convenience.2

Very sincerely yours,

John M. Cabot
  1. Apparent reference to Dr. Milton S. Eisenhower’s factfinding mission to South America, undertaken at the request of President Eisenhower between June 23 and July 29, 1953; Assistant Secretary Cabot accompanied Dr. Eisenhower. For additional information, see the editorial note, p. 196.
  2. In a letter to Assistant Secretary Cabot, dated Aug. 26, 1953, Ambassador McDermott stated in part that he had suggested to Foreign Minister Canessa that he ask President Osorio to appoint a competent person to compile a list of cases showing “where Communists from Guatemala with Guatemalan passports, non-Guatemalans with Guatemalan passports or Guatemalan officials had been apprehended or temporarily arrested for subversive activities in El Salvador.” Foreign Minister Canessa was reported to have replied that he would promptly take up the matter with President Osorio, but that he wished the United States would consider his suggestion of imposing an embargo against Guatemalan coffee as a means of changing the situation in that country. (716.001/8–2653)