85. Memorandum From William G. Bowdler of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)1


  • Guatemalan Situation

The December 20 target date passed with no coup in Guatemala. According to [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] reports,2 the new date is December 22.

Ambassador Mein saw President Peralta last Friday (Tab A).3 He found him relaxed and confident that he could deal with any coup attempt. He seemed fully aware of Col. Ponciano’s doings and completely uninterested in our approaches to Ponciano. Mein seems to share a good deal of Peralta’s confidence—more than I think he should. Much to my annoyance, Mein did not raise with Peralta the desirability of an OAS presence. He believes it would be a mistake to suggest it. (Tab B)4 Peralta in his present frame of mind would probably have said “no,” but it would be interesting to sound him out and start him thinking along these lines. Mein is scheduled to see coup leader Ponciano tomorrow.5

Our approaches to President Schick and “Tachito” Somoza in Nicaragua seem to have paid off. Latest CIA reports indicate Somoza has stopped supporting plotters working for the overthrow of Peralta and Echandi in Costa Rica.6

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Guatemala, Vol. I, 3/64–1/66. Confidential.
  2. None found.
  3. Tab A, telegram 380 from Guatemala City, December 18, is attached but not printed. Another copy is in the National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 14 GUAT.
  4. Tab B, telegram 377 from Guatemala City, December 16, is attached but not printed. In the telegram Mein argued that the suggestion would “only cause resentment,” since Peralta had repeatedly maintained that the elections would be free, i.e. without interference from either the government or the army. (Also ibid.)
  5. In his account of the meeting, Mein reported that Ponciano was “not as vehement in his comments on Peralta,” but had warned “that there would be serious trouble in Guatemala if March elections are not free.” (Telegram 391 from Guatemala City, December 22; ibid., POL 23–9 GUAT)
  6. Echandi was a former President of Costa Rica; the current President was Francisco Orlich Bolmarich. Documentation on U.S. efforts to discourage General Somoza from interfering in Costa Rica and Guatemala is ibid., POL 23–9 COSTARICA. A handwritten note by McBundy on the memorandum reads: “Thanks.”