320. Airgram A–35 From the Embassy in Guatemala to the Department of State1 2

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  • Internal Security—Chart of Incidents, January 1969

1. Subversive activity waned early in January after a brief “Christmas offensive” which proved more damaging to guerrillas than to security forces. The month as a whole was relatively tranquil, showing a sharp decline from December’s 47 incidents to a little below November’s 25. Dissension within the subversives’ ranks seemed to have reduced their capability during the month, but by the end of January there was evidence that they had established new alignments that may improve capability over the long haul.

2. The rash of bombings early in the new year was apparently more costly to the FAR than to intended targets. We reported last month how Carlos LUCERO Lau, one of the stake-out team for the assassination of Ambassador Mein, lost his life when a bomb he was setting in Jalapa exploded prematurely. We also reported the arrest (and subsequent consignment) of Alfredo de Jesus MAYEN Alfaro as he was apparently attempting to place a bomb. Another bomb slightly damaged some high tension wires at the Empresa Electrica’s Amatitlan generating plant during the same period.

3. At the end of the month yet another FAR member was apprehended: Rodolfo Herminio de Jesus GARCIA Diaz, aka “El Cabezon.” During his interrogation Garcia gave the address of his mother’s house in Zone 2 that reportedly contained subversive propaganda and lists of FAR members. Garcia also admitted to being involved in the Ambassador’s assassination, and when security forces remanded him to the courts, one of the charges was complicity in the assassination. Garcia thus becomes the first person actually involved in the slaying to be formally charged. He became the fourth of the dozen known to be closely involved with the murder to be neutralized.

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4. No doubt a major factor accounting for the generally low level of violence during the month was the disarray in which subversives found themselves. Some of the squabbling came out into the open when YON Sosa sent newspapers a flyer in which he announced that he had fired the FAR’s leadership, left that group himself, and reconstituted the MR–13. FAR militants previously had used the FAR publication GUERRILLERO to send Yon special letter telling him to disband a “microfaction” of the FAR that had been operating independently, or face expulsion. Other reports had indicated further splits within the FAR and between it and the PGT (FAR) (see HGG–4897 Secret/NoForn). If Yon and his small band of followers do revert to the MR–13’s traditional rural insurgency and cut ties with the FAR, new alignments within the subversive movements are probable. The net result may be to enhance the internal cohesiveness of the various factions and improve their security.

5. During the month several taxi drivers or individuals alone in their vehicles were approached by two or three armed men, forced into the trunk of their vehicles, and aimlessly driven around the city for hours. Only one known attack resulted from these rides. On January 11 a solitary National Policeman guarding the furniture of an evicted family in downtown Guatemala was shot down by three youths in a “borrowed” car and his weapons stolen. The FAR considers this technique a low risk operation and has used it previously.

6. On January 27 the press reported that three men kidnapped a resident of Nueva Concepcion on Guatemala’s South Coast. Next day his bullet-riddled, tortured body was found along the bank of a river 50 miles upstream. The body reportedly bore the initials “CADEG,” the acronym for what proved to be an extralegal terrorist group during 1967 and early 1968. Unpublished and unproven rumors that half-a-dozen other bodies marked with CADEG had been found about Guatemala recently followed on the heels of the published story. We have no reason to believe that CADEG has been reformed since its dissolution in April 1968, but receptivity to rumors to this effect reveals that the memory of what Guatemalans widely believe was a government-sponsored counterterror group still lingers.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 23 GUAT. Confidential. Drafted on February 12 by David H. Clare (POL); approved by Political Officer Matthew D. Smith and in draft by Wilson (POL). Stamped notations on the airgram indicate that it was received at the Department of State on February 18, at 8:24 a.m. and at the Bureau of Inter-American Affairs on February 20. Attached but not published is a Chart of Incidents.
  2. The Embassy reported on internal security incidents and guerrilla activities during the month of January, including the capture and “neutralization” of the fourth of 12 guerrillas implicated in the 1968 assassination of U.S. Ambassador John Gordon Mein.