193. Telegram 376 From the Embassy in Costa Rica to the Department of State1 2

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1. During a meeting with President Figueres February 7 to discuss other topics, he told me half seriously that he has received information that the Guatemalans are sending some men to Costa Rica in late February to help the Free Costa Rica Movement (MCRL) to overthrow him.

2. He claimed that, according to the report, Colonels Lemus, Guevara, and Casteneda of the “Mano Blanca” and Mario Sandoval, President of the Guatemalan Assembly have agreed to send support and that, with these key men involved, obviously President Arana must have approved the plan. He noted sarcastically that Arana is convinced that he will be the number one target of the Soviets now in Costa Rica as he is the most anti-communist leader in the area and is thus apparently taking steps to remove the menace.

3. Figueres claimed that President Somoza had been approached by the Guatemalans to collaborate in the golpe against him and had told them to deal him out, even though he does not approve of the Soviet installation in Costa Rica. Consequently, according to Figueres, the Guatemalans plan to land a contingent of armed men by sea at Puntarenas (to avoid violating Nicaraguan air space) and march overland to San [Page 2] Jose to join up with the Costa Rican golpistas. Figueres made some disparaging remarks about the “Latin American military mentality” and noted that there are dozens of points between Puntarenas and San Jose where the column could be ambushed.

4. I told figueres that I thought the rumors about plots had dissipated and asked him how much credence he gave his new report. He admitted that the MCRL per se does not present much of a threat but claimed that he cannot afford to completely discount the alleged Guatemalan role in view of the latter’s recent belligerent posture toward Belize. [text not declassified] I assured Figueres that we had nothing that would confirm his report of a golpe but would advise him if confirmatory information becomes available.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 779, Country Files, Latin America, Costa Rica. Secret; Exdis. Repeated to Guatemala City and Managua.
  2. The Embassy reported that President Figueres informed Ambassador Ploeser that he was aware of a Guatemalan sponsored plot to “overthrow him” in late February. Ploeser agreed to inform Figueres if the Embassy found any confirmation.