178. Memorandum of a Telephone Conversation Between the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Holland) and the Ambassador in Costa Rica (Woodward), January 12, 19551


  • Costa Rican-Nicaraguan Dispute

Ambassador Woodward called Mr. Holland to inform that an AT–6 plane strafed the city of San José only a half hour ago: at 8:05 a.m. Costa Rican time. The AT–6 fired indiscriminately over the city and the Embassy has an empty 45 cartridge as proof. Mario Esquivel called Ambassador Woodward to say that he heard that the Venezuelan flag appeared on the plane. However, Ambassador Woodward said it was hard to tell what flag. Also he had heard that two planes flew over La Cruz and went over Liberia dropping bombs and machine-gunning public roads trucks. No one was reported hurt. Public Roads people have a large camp at Liberia. After the plane fired the Foreign Minister called Ambassador Woodward on behalf of the President asking for armed assistance under Article III. Ambassador Woodward told him that the matter was now in the hands of the OAS body.

Mr. Holland informed Ambassador Woodward that the Costa Rican Ambassador had called this morning to renew Costa Rica’s request for armed assistance, and that the matter is under study in the Department. If and when the decision is made, Mr. Holland will let Ambassador Woodward know.

Ambassador Woodward went on to say that the planes came from the northwest and were going back the same direction, exactly the direction of Nicaragua.

Mr. Holland asked if Ambassador Woodward’s recommendation still was the same with respect to the Mission plane flying along the border. Ambassador Woodward replied he still felt it would be unnecessary.

The conversation continued as to the time of arrival of the Committee’s plane. It would arrive in Panama at 5:30 p.m. Eastern Standard time, in San José at 6:30 p.m. EST. Mr. Holland asked if planes could land at night. Ambassador Woodward replied that that would be a good time to land.

Mr. Holland asked Ambassador Woodward if the “things” had been picked up at Panama. Ambassador Woodward said they came in 15 minutes ago.

[Page 591]

Ambassador Woodward concluded by saying he had received information from Managua, … indicating that the planes had taken off from there.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 718.00/1–1255. Confidential. Drafted by Holland.