183. Telegram From the Ambassador in Costa Rica (Woodward) to the Department of State1

213. Confirming telephone report January 14 President, Foreign Minister, Finance Minister, Chief Civil Aviation asked me expedite [Page 598] urgent sale 4 P–51 airplanes with ammunition and bombs to Costa Rican Government so they can destroy airplanes and equipment of attackers La Cruz area sighted by reconnaissance in event provisional organ consultation does not have better method to suggest. They naturally reluctant cause casualties in ground fighting which might be saved by demoralizing attackers with destruction their equipment.

In view finding investigation committee re outside attack and aid Costa Rican Government hopes armed assistance will be given to help avoid casualties among defenders and among attacking forces who are tools of real attackers. Presence investigating committee and aerial observation have been and are extremely useful in reducing danger from aerial attack particularly to civilian population. Reduction of supplies to attackers through fear ground air observation will further reduce casualties. Fact remains that approximately 500 attackers may cause substantial number casualties before they subdued. Obviously anything that will avoid this should be done. Moreover, substantial casualties would greatly reduce achievement IA Organization to date, would result undesirable public reaction democratic world, and could be loss opportunity establish precedent which may further strengthen IA system, pointedly discourage future adventures, and reassure small nations which have insignificant arms. In addition, if arms for emergency use can be obtained on virtual loan basis, small nations in future will be less likely find necessity purchase costly armaments which they can misuse.

Unless more effective plan under consideration, I suggest for urgent consideration Department possibility of encouraging provisional organ to request or approve sale or loan of effective weapons by member states for self defense Costa Rica in view establishment fact of outside attack and air by investigating committee.

If loan equipment impossible under US law and no other American state prepared loan equipment immediately, perhaps sale could be made with understanding intact equipment could be returned before payment required.

Have discussed this with Ambassador Dreier and he sees nothing in this which would interfere in any way with the progress of work of investigating committee and in fact believes this might help bring matter to speedy close.

Costa Rican request for 4 P–51’s arose from consultation with all Costa Rican pilots who recommended this type and recommended 2 pairs. They confident 4 or 5 their number can operate them. However, if some method could be found to insure that they are [Page 599] used efficiently expeditiously this might promote success of operation and minimize loss of life.2

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 718.5622/1–1555. Confidential; Niact.
  2. A note on the source text indicates that this telegram was read by Holland on January 15 at 6:35 p.m. and that it was passed to the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force at 9 p.m. that evening.