Soccer War


641. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon, Washington, July 9, 1969.

President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs Kissinger reported that El Salvador had broken diplomatic relations with Honduras following 10 days of anti-Salvadoran riots in Tegucigalpa that began when Salvadoran soccer fans assaulted Honduran fans during a World Cup regional playoff in San Salvador. While hoping for a peaceful settlement to the dispute, Kissinger declared that the U.S. Government’s position should be that this was a Central American problem that should be resolved within the region.

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 786, Country Files, Latin America, Honduras–Salvador Dispute. Limited Official Use. Sent for information. A stamped notation on the memorandum indicates the President saw it.


642. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon, Washington, July 9, 1969.

President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs Kissinger indicated that the Salvadoran-Honduran dispute might become an armed conflict. He recommended that President Nixon approve the sending of a personal message in support of Central American mediation efforts to the presidents of both countries.

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 786, Country Files, Latin America, Honduras–Salvador Dispute. Confidential. Sent for action. On July 9, Kissinger initialed for Nixon his approval of the proposed message and a reply to President Lleras of Colombia. Attached but not published are Tabs A and B. Tab A is the proposed draft message to the presidents of El Salvador and Honduras. Tab B is President Lleras’ July 7 cable to Nixon. Also attached but not published is Nixon’s message, which was sent as telegram 922, July 10, to Bogotá, San Salvador, Tegucigalpa, San José, Managua, and Guatemala. (Ibid.)


643. Intelligence Note No. 526 From the Director of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (Hughes) to Secretary of State Rogers, Washington, July 11, 1969.

The Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) reported that despite Central American mediation efforts, Salvadoran bellicosity threatened to deepen the crisis between El Salvador and Honduras.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL EL SAL–HOND. Confidential; Limdis. In a July 14 memorandum to Kissinger, NSC Staff member Viron Vaky reported that notwithstanding Central American and OAS mediation efforts, tensions were increasing and the “chances of a military thrust by El Salvador within the next day or so are high.” (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 786, Country Files, Latin America, Honduras–Salvador Dispute)


644. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon, Washington, July 15, 1969.

President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs Kissinger reported that El Salvador had initiated air attacks against Honduras. Indicating that the United States had supported mediation throughout the crisis, Kissinger recommended continued support for OAS efforts to achieve a ceasefire and negotiate an end to the dispute.

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 786, Country Files, Latin America, Honduras–El Salvador Dispute. Confidential. Sent for information. A stamped notation on the memorandum indicates the President saw it. Attached but not published at Tab A is factual data on El Salvador and Honduras and at Tab B is a map of the two countries. In an undated and un-initialed memorandum to Nixon, Kissinger reported that on July 15 the OAS Council passed a resolution calling for the immediate cessation of hostilities and “the restoration of the situation to what it was before hostilities broke out.” (Ibid.)


645. Memorandum From Viron P. Vaky of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger), Washington, July 16, 1969.

National Security Council staff member Vaky informed President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs Kissinger that the situation appeared to be deteriorating and observed that if El Salvador refused to agree to a ceasefire, then the OAS would likely condemn them as aggressors under the Rio Treaty.

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 786, Country Files, Latin America, Honduras–El Salvador Dispute. Secret. Sent for action. A note on the memorandum indicates, “OBE 7–18–69 Return to Vaky.” Attached but not published is the proposed memorandum from Kissinger to Nixon to the President. In telegram 117566 to San Salvador, July 16, the Department of State instructed the Embassy to call upon the Salvadoran Government “to issue immediate orders for a cease-fire on all fronts.” (Ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL EL SALV–HOND) In a July 17 memorandum to Nixon, Kissinger reported that both countries had, in principle, accepted the OAS ceasefire proposal. (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 786, Country Files, Latin America, Honduras–Salvador Dispute)


646. Intelligence Note No. 548 From the Director of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (Hughes) to Secretary of State Rogers, Washington, July 18, 1969.

The Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) warned that the conflict between El Salvador and Honduras could stimulate an arms race throughout Latin America, while observing that the United States could be criticized for not preventing the outbreak of hostilities.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL EL SAL–HOND. Confidential.


647. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon, Washington, July 18, 1969, 6:30 p.m.

President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs Kissinger reported that the OAS Council had passed resolutions calling for a cease-fire, military withdrawals within 96 hours, the grounding of air forces, security guarantees for nationals of each country in the other’s territory, and an end to inflammatory media campaigns.

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 786, Country Files, Latin America, Honduras–Salvador Dispute. Secret. Sent for information. Kissinger did not initial the memorandum. Sent by Vaky to Kissinger under cover of a July 18 forwarding memorandum, which is not published. In TDCS 314/10747–69, July 18, CIA reported that the Salvadoran Government had stated its willingness to accept the ceasefire, but refused to withdraw its troops unless “satisfactory and effective” guarantees were made for Salvadoran nationals in Honduras. (Ibid.) In telegram 2728 from Tegucigalpa, July 19, the Embassy reported that the Honduran Government had implemented the ceasefire. (Ibid.)


648. Memorandum From Viron P. Vaky of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger), Washington, July 22, 1969.

National Security Council staff member Vaky reported that the OAS brokered ceasefire seemed to be holding, but noted that both El Salvador and Honduras were seeking weapons abroad and El Salvador was indicating that it might not comply with the OAS resolutions on troop withdrawal. In light of the circumstances, the OAS was considering the creation of an inter-American Peace Force.

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 784, Country Files, Latin America, El Salvador, Vol. I. Confidential. Sent for information. Attached but not published at Tab A is telegram 120597 from the Department of State to all American Republic diplomatic posts. In telegram 120464, July 20, the Department instructed all European posts to seek cooperation in preventing arms sales to El Salvador and Honduras. (Ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL EL SAL–HOND)


649. Central Intelligence Agency Information Cable, TDCS 314/10866–69, Washington, July 22, 1969.

CIA reported that although the OAS-mandated 96-hour withdraw was about to expire and Salvadoran troops were not retreating, the Salvadoran Government had already notified the OAS that it did not plan to re-initiate hostilities. CIA noted the proliferation of anti-OAS and anti-U.S. demonstrations in San Salvador.

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 786, Country Files, Latin America, Honduras–Salvador Dispute. Confidential; Noforn dissem. A stamped notation on section 1 of this 2 part telegram indicates that the classification was upgraded to Secret; Noforn. The final section of this telegram, however, bears the stamped notation Confidential; Noforn.


650. Telegram 122377 From the Department of State to the Embassy in El Salvador, July 24, 1969, 1505Z.

The Department of State requested that the Embassy comment on statements implying that the Salvadoran Government might hope for the deployment of an international peacekeeping force, in order to publicly justify its withdrawal from Honduran territory.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL EL SAL–HOND. Confidential; Limdis; Immediate. No record of a reply from Tegucigalpa was found. In telegram 1305 from Managua, July 25, Bowdler reported that Somoza told him a reliable Salvadoran contact had confirmed that “GOES strategy in OAS will be to promote the interposition of an Interamerican Peace Force,” allowing El Salvador to withdraw its troops without losing face. (Ibid.)


651. Telegram 1727 From the Embassy in El Salvador to the Department of State, July 25, 1969, 2329Z.

The Embassy offered its thoughts on U.S. objectives for the OAS Foreign Ministers meeting on the Honduran–Salvadoran conflict.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL EL SAL–HOND. Confidential; Immediate. Repeated immediate to Tegucigalpa, and to San José, Guatemala, Managua, Panama, USCINCSO, USUN New York, and USCINCSO for POLAD. In telegram 127214 to Tokyo, July 30, the Department of State reported that at the July 29 OAS meeting, Salvadoran Foreign Minister Guerrero stated that El Salvador would withdraw its troops from Honduran territory. (Ibid.)


652. Telegram 127303 From the Department of State to the Embassies in Honduras and El Salvador, July 31, 1969, 0100Z.

The Department of State provided guidance on implementing the resolutions approved at the July 29–30 OAS Foreign Ministers meetings.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL EL SAL–HOND. Confidential; Priority. Drafted on July 30 by Killoran; cleared by Breen and Donald G. Gould (USIA); and approved by Crimmins. In telegram 138553, August 10, the Department of State instructed all ARA diplomatic posts to urge OAS members to continue pressing El Salvador and Honduras to “adopt attitudes conducive to negotiated resolution” of the conflict. (Ibid.)


653. Memorandum From the Executive Secretary (Eliot) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger), Washington, October 1, 1969.

In a report on the status of the Honduran–Salvadoran conflict, the Department of State noted that despite progress with troop withdrawals, prisoner repatriations, and protections for immigrants, tensions remained high and both countries were engaged in large arms purchases, auguring poorly for short-term regional stability.

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 786, Country Files, Latin America, Honduras–Salvador Dispute. Confidential.