321. Memorandum From the Central Intelligence Agency to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1 2

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  • The Threat to Governor Rockefeller in Guatemala

1. The possibility of disruptive or embarrassing demonstrations during the Rockefeller visit to Guatemala is slight, but there is danger that Castro-inspired terrorists will make an assassination attempt.

2. Students from San Carlos University in Guatemala City are the group most likely to try a non-violent anti-US manifestation, and they would be controlled fairly easily by Guatemalan security forces.

3. On the other hand, [text not declassified] the Communist insurgent group, the Rebel Armed Forces (FAR), plans to open a terrorist campaign during Governor Rockefeller’s visit to Guatemala, with the objective of “identifying the new administration in Washington with terror.” The campaign reportedly includes the attempted assassination of the Governor, of Ambassador Davis, and of other members of the US embassy mission.

4. Reports of this nature have a built-in credibility because of the demonstrated ability of the FAR to effect such plans. The assassination last year of Ambassador Mein and earlier of two members of the US military mission are examples.

5. [text not declassified] Recent information is that a 40-man group of Cuban-trained Guatemalans and Cuban advisors are heading for Guatemala. The Cuban presence would be likely to intensify the anti-US [Page 2] direction of a terrorist guerrilla campaign, and the additional personnel suggest an improved capability for spectacular action.

6. Other considerations add to the possibility of Communist terrorism during the Governor’s trip. The insurgents have had several months to recover from the losses suffered from the intense security action after the Ambassador’s death last August. Over the last few years it has become a pattern for the FAR to make a highly newsworthy hit-and-run raid to demonstrate that the “revolution”, although hurt, is not dead.

7. Security for the US mission has tightened significantly since last August, both by the Embassy staff and by the Guatemalans. Nevertheless, the danger to the Governor and to other US officials in Guatemala is real. The FAR is most experienced and effective at hit-and-run assassinations and sabotage.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 803, Country Files, Latin America, Rockefeller Mission, Vol. I, April–May. Secret. No Foreign Dissem.; Background Use Only. It was sent under a March 31 covering memorandum from the Deputy Director for Intelligence, R.J. Smith. (Ibid.) On April 3, Nixon approved Secret Service protection for Rockefeller during his trip and unsuccessfully discouraged him from going to Guatemala. (Memorandum from Kissinger to Nixon; ibid., Box 785, Country Files, Latin America, Guatemala)
  2. The CIA advised Kissinger that the Rebel Armed Forces (FAR) planned to conduct a terrorist campaign during the visit of Governor Nelson Rockefeller, with Ambassador Davis and other Embassy personnel as potential targets.