89. National Intelligence Estimate1

NIE 82–66


The Problem

To estimate the situation in Guatemala and the prospects for stability over the next year or two.

[Page 210]


The staying power of the new, moderate-left government of Mèndez will depend primarily on its relationship with the Guatemalan military. The military leaders, recalling the Communist surge to power in the early 1950s, may tend to overreact to any administration appointments or policy moves which they regard as favorable to the far left. Mèndez, a proud and somewhat sensitive man, is likely to become restive over such circumscription of his powers.
In our view, his chances of maintaining himself in power through 1966 are good. During this period he will have the opportunity to improve his ties with military leaders and the economic elite, but probably this would require the sacrifice of some of the reform measures he favors. The Communist guerrilla bands, although not capable of taking power, are strong enough to carry out terrorist campaigns that could keep the government under heavy pressure from the military. These campaigns might be used to justify military intervention if the right and the military leadership became dissatisfied with Mèndez’ conduct of his administration.
In view of the economic, social and political problems which will confront Mèndez beyond 1966, we are not confident that he will survive in office through the next two years. His administration’s chances for accomplishing much, either in reform or in significant economic growth and development, will depend heavily upon whether it accepts substantial outside assistance—with its attendant obligations—and uses it effectively.

[Omitted here is the Discussion section of the estimate.]

  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Job 79–R01012A, O/DDI Registry. Secret; Controlled Dissem. According to a note on the cover sheet this estimate was prepared in the Central Intelligence Agency with the participation of the intelligence organizations of the Departments of State and Defense, the National Security Agency, and the Atomic Energy Commission. The United States Intelligence Board concurred in this estimate on June 24.