Holland files, lot 57 D 295, “El Salvador”

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


Dear Henry : I suggest that recognition be taken by our Government of the splendid cooperation given us by President Osorio in bringing about the recent cease-fire in Guatemala,1 his invitation to Col. Monzón and Col. Castillo Armas to meet here in San Salvador, [Page 1021] his strenuous efforts to bring them together and his fast cooperation on the morning of Thursday, July 1st, in helping me pin down Colonels Monzón and Castillo Armas until Ambassador Peurifoy got here.

The conversations beginning June 30 and continuing until 3:45 a.m. July 1st were conducted by President Osorio (who modestly says he chaired the meeting) with the President of the Asamblea, Peralta Salazar, who advanced the arguments for El Salvador, Col. Monzón and Col. Castillo Armas. Upon being informed of the breakdown by President Osorio, I telegraphed the Department (niact no. 22 repeated to Guatemala) and for several hours tried to reach you on the telephone which I succeeded doing shortly before 8:00 a.m. I immediately got word through to the President by telephone requesting that both planes be kept on the ground here and that we should do our utmost to persuade the two Colonels not to take off. I kept an appointment with President Osorio at 8:30. The two Colonels called on President Osorio, separately of course, to make their farewell calls. In the name of both our Governments, President Osorio and I requested the two Colonels to postpone their departure until at least 10 o’clock and later, until 11 o’clock. I informed them that Ambassador Peurifoy was flying over from Guatemala and that he would have a concrete proposal to make. Ambassador Peurifoy was delayed; I told them of reports I had through the airport radio that it was difficult to take off from Guatemala because of weather. Later I received a message through our radio communications that the plane was waiting for Ambassador Peurifoy to come from the National Palace where he had called on the other two members of the Junta. I passed this information on to both Colonels. Col. Castillo Armas gave me no further promises to stay after 11:00; he insisted that he must return to his troops, some of whom were so placed that they did not have access to drinking water. Col. [President] Osorio persuaded him to send one of his men to order in his name a rearrangement of the lines. Shortly after that officer’s departure from the Presidential Palace, Col. Castillo Armas and all his guards left in a body. Asked whether they would be back, they said yes; they were merely going to get shaved and would return shortly, which they did. When Ambassador Peurifoy’s plane was landing at the airport, Col. Castillo Armas’ plane took off with only the crew and his emissary. I did not meet Ambassador Peurifoy because I dared not leave the Casa Presidencial.

I did not sit in on the private meetings that Ambassador Peurifoy had with Col. Castillo Armas and again with Col. Monzón, or the meetings he and Sr. Peralta Salazar had with both Colonels during the late afternoon and night of July 1st. The truce agreement was signed at [Page 1022] 5:00 a.m. July 2. It was agreed that both Colonels would accompany Ambassador Peurifoy to Guatemala City at 10:00 a.m. July 2. It was clear, however, that Col. Castillo Armas would return to his troops and consult with his officers and advisors at Chiquimula but he said he would be back by 10:00 a.m. for the trip to Guatemala. We were at the airport awaiting him when we received word that he would not be able to get back before 4:00 p.m. or the following day. Col. Monzón decided to wait for him. On the morning of July 3, Col. Castillo Armas arrived at the airport and as he had not made a farewell call on President Osorio, he went directly to the Casa Presidencial where he had a long talk with the President. I am sure President Osorio put in some more good licks for cooperation and the future peace of Central America.

Today relations between the United States and President Osorio are, to say the least, excellent. We have sought to give him full credit for the truce. His hand has been greatly strengthened with the Army and all sections of public opinion. Some of the newspapers are nominating him for the Nobel Peace Prize. I think this would be an auspicious time for the President to send him a letter of appreciation and an autographed photograph. I am sure he would appreciate such a gesture.3

I extend to you my heartiest congratulations for your able handling of this most difficult Guatemalan problem.

With kindest wishes,


  1. For documentation relating to this subject, see pp. 1199 ff.
  2. Dated July 1, 1954, p. 1200.
  3. A memorandum by Secretary Dulles to President Eisenhower, dated July 20, 1954, recommending that he send a letter of appreciation and an autographed photograph to President Osorio for his part in bringing about the Guatemalan settlement, reads in part as follows: “It is to our advantage to emphasize the part played by the President of El Salvador in order to discourage the false reports that the United States was largely responsible for the establishment of the new Government.” (Holland files, lot 57 D 295, “El Salvador”) A draft of a proposed letter to President Osorio was attached to the Secretary’s memorandum.