363/5–2954: Circular telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to Certain Diplomatic Offices in the American Republics 1


442. Inform Govt at highest level that US believes immediate consideration should be given to holding consultative meeting under Rio Treaty, Article 6, to consider situation created by extensive penetration Guatemalan Govt by international communist organization and recent clandestine deliveries arms from Soviet orbit to Guatemala. US [Page 1150] feels consultative meeting should be called only if required ⅔ majority (14) agrees to support action under the Rio Treaty as outlined below. We feel this majority assured. FYI however your approach must not be such as will commit US to calling meeting. End FYI.

Our idea is that meeting, if held, should be called by US for about July 1, be brief, and confined to single topic and adoption of one main resolution. Although Uruguayan Govt has not been consulted, US prefers Montevideo as site.

US would propose that meeting adopt resolution covering following points:

Finding that international communist organization has achieved extensive penetration of Guatemalan institutions; that in this context, recent covert movement of arms from iron curtain countries to Guatemala has created present threat to sovereignty and political independence of other American States, endangering peace of America; and that any further substantial shipments of arms to Guatemala would further endanger peace.
Recommendation that American Republics immediately take measures necessary to prevent further shipments of arms to Guatemala and travel of communist agents to and from that country, and inform SC of UN of such measures. (Under this recommendation US visualizes concrete action such as detention and inspection of ships and other means of transport.)
Recommendation for continued exchange of views and info re present danger and means of maintaining peace, security of continent.
Call to Guatemala to eliminate agents international communist organization and resume rightful place as member American nations dedicated defense America against all forms foreign intervention.

Request early expression views of Govt on holding meeting and proposed resolution outlined above.

Main points to stress to Govts are:

Guatemala is one of several points of current conflict between Soviet communism and free nations throughout the world. Situation constitutes test as to whether international communist organization can achieve establishment communist controlled state this hemisphere. Communist success Guatemala would therefore have worldwide significance as demonstration ineffectiveness regional organizations of free nations and power of communist forces establish subservient regimes even beyond immediate sphere of communist military power. Communist world hopes demonstrate inability of American nations to resist subversive penetration by joint action and thereby discredit OAS, the oldest and most effective regional organization.
Delivery on Alfhem of arms known to have come from communist controlled territory offers further evidence Moscow has chosen Guatemala for special effort, having in mind its small size, proximity to Panama Canal, fluid internal political situation, and opportunity for communist agents to seize leadership and disguise their work as genuine Guatemalan nationalistic campaign against United Fruit Company.
While every important US interest in Guatemala including UFCO is under attack, our concern about communist penetration would be just as great if this were not true. In defending US enterprises in Guatemala we have followed clear and consistent policy established in other similar cases, namely, representations requesting due process of law and prompt, adequate and effective compensation for expropriated properties. Prior to presentation UFCO claim, US formally and publicly proposed it be settled by arbitration or adjudication by international tribunal. This proposal still stands. Guatemala has ignored this proposal and on contrary attempted to obscure issue of Communist penetration by constantly dragging in Fruit Company dispute.
Brief of evidence2 re extent and nature communist penetration Guatemala being air mailed. Analysis reveals in Guatemala all signs which have identified similar occurrences elsewhere under direction Kremlin including methods of achieving initial penetration, training of leaders, extensive use of popular front organizations, blind adherence Moscow party line. While preserving appearance of small minority party, communists have here as elsewhere succeeded in substituting small informal communist controlled councils for lawful policy making bodies.

In addition to foregoing emphasize to Govt we have no quarrel with Guatemalan people, have no desire adopt measures more severe than those required combat problem posed by communist penetration in Guatemala. US is determined make every effort to achieve demonstration that collective procedures of OAS are adequate and effective in dealing with the major threat to continental peace and security implicit in the Guatemalan situation.

Embassy should note that our case rests upon the conclusion that in the present context of extensive communist penetration of Guatemala the delivery of substantial amounts of arms has created a threat to the peace. FYI This decision reached in order to secure support of those nations not now prepared to support more exacting finding contemplated by Res 93 of Caracas which would call for a collective determination that the international communist movement dominates and controls the political institutions of Guatemala.

FYI Guatemala undertaking intensive campaign among foreign offices oppose consultative meeting.

FYI Brazil has endorsed our position and will take lead in approaching Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay. Embassies those countries and Cuba, Venezuela should await special instructions. End FYI.

  1. Drafted by Assistant Secretary Holland, Ambassador Dreier, Director of the Office of South American Affairs Atwood, and Director of the Office of Middle American Affairs Burrows; signed for the Acting Secretary by Mr. Holland. Sent to diplomatic offices in the American Republics, except Guatemala City and Rio de Janeiro; repeated for information to the Embassies in Guatemala City and Rio de Janeiro, and also to USUN in New York.
  2. Apparent reference to an earlier version of the study entitled “Penetration of the Political Institutions of Guatemala by the International Communist Movement: Threat to the Peace and Security of America and to the Sovereignty and Political Independence of Guatemala,” prepared in the Department of State in June 1954 for submission to the Fifth Meeting of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the American Republics. The study was issued under date of July 9, 1954.