731.00/5–3154: Telegram

The Chargé in Venezuela (Bernbaum) to the Department of State

top secret

311. Department 3061 discussed separately with Foreign Minister and chief Securidad Nacional without revealing our awareness Venezuelan participation in revolutionary plot.2

Both Otanez and Estrada skeptical possibilities effective action through conference. Otanez pointed out that readiness some countries support convocation conference might reflect reluctance appear obstructionist rather than readiness support effective action. He emphasized danger to United States and its prestige and counter productive effect on Communist problem of failure conference to produce more than another resolution. He also expressed belief that many countries would interpret utilization arms issue as unwarranted United States attempt control their arms purchases. While mentioning his satisfaction over presumed availability evidence which would justify conference and belief its success Otanez made no attempt conceal his skepticism. Estrada made no bones of his lack of confidence in conference procedure and preference for direct action. He also emphasized that Venezuela, Panama, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic and Peru were just as worried over Figueres as they were over Guatemala and would insist upon action against him as well. Estrada argued that a satisfactory solution to the Guatemalan case would not solve the Figueres problem which he felt required direct action. He feared the possible success of the recent Costa Rican declaration which he interpreted as a diversionary maneuver to buy immunity.

Estrada then confidentially stated that Venezuela had already been approached by Guatemalan and Costa Rican exiles for funds to finance revolutions in both countries. He inquired why the United Fruit Company could not bear its share and urged United States support or acquiescence in such a move as being much more realistic and certain of success than conference action. He admitted that coups had not already taken place only because of the inability of the interested countries to agree.

I answered that the United States was naturally aware of revolutionary ferment in Central America and was convinced that the problem could best be solved at a conference aimed at concrete measures and not just words. I indicated our belief in the feasibility of such action. Estrada did not argue the point but stated somewhat heatedly that Venezuela would send its Canberras and more over Costa Rica [Page 1667] upon the first sign of aggression activities from that country against Venezuela. He was rather vague about the type of aggression which might be anticipated.

Estrada confirmed that he was to depart June 2 on a trip to exchange views with the heads of Panama, Nicaragua and Cuba. He will not visit Ciudad Trujillo because of General Trujillo absence in Europe. He expects to spend about four days in the United States. He stated that he would discuss the trip with the Embassy upon returning. It was also stated that our conversation would be reported immediately to the President whose views he reflected.

  1. The referenced telegram, dated May 28, 1954, is not printed (731.00/5–2654).
  2. Against the Guatemalan Government.