319a. Editorial Note
Beginning in 1968, U.S. and other foreign diplomatic personnel working in Guatemala were increasingly targeted for kidnapping and assassination by two affiliated guerrilla/terrorist organizations: the Fuerzas Armadas Rebeldes (FAR) and the Partido Guatemalteco de Trabajo (PGT). In 1968 alone, FAR assassinated two U.S. officers assigned to the Defense Attaché’s office and the U.S. Ambassador to Guatemala. In March 1970, the U.S. Labor Attaché was kidnapped, interrogated, and ultimately released by FAR. And in April 1970, FAR kidnapped and executed the German Ambassador.
On November 15, 1970, the Embassy in Guatemala City reported to the Department of State that it had acquired actionable and time-sensitive intelligence on the locations of several FAR and PGT leaders. The Embassy suggested that this information be provided to the Government of Guatemala, while recognizing that such action might provoke reprisals against U.S. personnel and would likely draw the U.S. Government into the Guatemalan Government’s counterinsurgency activities. In response to the Embassy’s suggestion, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs Henry Kissinger directed Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs Alexander Haig to place the issue on the 40 Committee’s agenda on an urgent basis.
Haig reported to Kissinger that the Department of State supported the release of the names of FAR and PGT leaders to the Guatemalan Government and expressed concern that given the time-sensitive nature of the intelligence, consideration by the 40 Committee would delay action too long. Haig indicated that he had already instructed National Security Council Staff member Arnold Nachmanoff to tell the Department of State to draft a cable authorizing the provision of the intelligence to the Guatemalan Government and recommended that the issue be included on the 40 Committee agenda only if the Department of State did not send the cable over for clearance by the National Security Council. Kissinger approved Haig’s recommendation.
On November 16, 1970, the Department of State instructed the Embassy to provide information on the names and locations of FAR and PGT leaders to the Guatemalan Government. On November 20, 1970, the Embassy reported that on November 18 the Guatemalan Government had declared a state of siege and that it had made some arrests based on the intelligence provided by the U.S. Government. On November 23, Nachamanoff forwarded a Central Intelligence Agency report to Kissinger indicating that the provision of intelligence had led to the November 20 arrest of Enrique Antonio Solorzano, who was one of three top FAR leaders. In its report, the Central Intelligence Agency warned that U.S. personnel might be targeted for reprisals.