192. Memorandum From the Deputy Director for Plans, Central Intelligence Agency (Karamessines) to Richard T. Kennedy of the National Security Staff1 2

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Dear Dick:

I attach a self-explanatory memorandum relating to Costa Rica, for your information only. No action is required on your part. I am sending it so that you can answer any questions that might arise down there on recent developments in Costa Rica. If you have any questions, please feel free to call me.


Thomas H. Karamessines
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  • Plot to Oust President Figueres of Costa Rica

1. Perennial plotting against Costa Rica’s President Jose Figueres Ferrer took on a slightly different complexion during the latter months of 1971 when representatives of the Free Costa Rica Movement (MCRL), a group of ever-conspiring Costa Rican rightists, sought and secured a promise of assistance from Guatemalan government officials. [text not declassified] As time went on, and as the flow of intelligence increased, it became evident that the plot to overthrow Figueres was poorly planned and that chances for success were almost nil. It also could be anticipated that an abortive coup would enhance Figueres’ position and be used by him to try to quiet the local opposition, particularly on the question of the Soviet presence in Costa Rica.

2. In late December, the Guatemalan activists began associating support of this Agency and the U.S. Government with their coup plans in discussions with their Costa Rican colleagues for, we presume, encouragement purposes. In the meantime, the number of conspirators, many of questionable reliability and discretion, had increased to the point where a leak to the Costa Rican Government seemed inevitable. (The existence of the plot was surfaced at a meeting of Costa Rican officials attended by Figueres on 3 January as described in the attached intelligence information cable.)

3. At this point, the Agency discussed with the Department of State and with the United States Ambassadors to Costa Rica and Guatemala steps which might be taken in view of the allegations of U.S. involvement and our past difficulties with Figueres. It was decided that Ambassador Ploeser would see Figueres and would, as part of a normal [Page 3] exchange, advise him that information regarding plotting against him had come to the Ambassador’s attention. The Ambassador would do this in very general terms, avoid any reference to Guatemalan support, and would emphasize that the United States Government had not been a part to any such plotting. [text not declassified] We assume this situation will settle down somewhat now.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 779, Country Files, Latin America, Costa Rica. Secret/Sensitive. Attached to the covering memorandum but not published is Intelligence Information Cable TCDSDB–315/00090–72, January 5.
  2. Deputy Director Karamessines forwarded a memorandum regarding Guatemalan plotting against President Figueres, noting that Ambassador Ploeser informed Figueres of the plot.