325. Telegram 4677 From the Embassy in Guatemala to the Department of State1 2

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  • British Honduras Dispute

1. Today Foreign Minister Fuentes Mohr gave me his impressions of New York talks last week. He seemed genuinely pleased with progress made and prospects for future. Regarding two treaty idea, he said Guatemala is focusing first on cooperative understanding with B.H. and then expects to address problem of “recognition treaty” (which Fuentes Mohr understands only fuzzily from talks with UK). Fuentes Mohr said Guatemalans not receiving selves over hurdles in road ahead, but are hopeful and serious in efforts to make progress.

2. Fuentes Mohr said preliminary discussions focused on economic cooperation, free movement of goods, free movement of persons, etc. He thought Guatemala could help British Honduras by providing reserves to underpin B.H. currency. He envisages exploring all possibilities for B.H. cooperation in Central American institutions. (In separate conversation, British Consul Trew told me Fuentes Mohr was asked in New York talks whether Guatemala envisaged B.H. might have ties both to CACM and CARIFTA. According Trew, Fuentes Mohr did not rule out this possibility.)

3. Commenting on atmosphere of talks, Fuentes Mohr said Belicenos started out tense but relaxed as talks progressed. Fuentes Mohr thinks Guatemalans convinced British Hondurans that GOG objective not rpt not simply to devour B.H. Apparently, renewed talks are scheduled for December 8 in New York—or possible Bermuda or some other place. (Trew is dubious these talks will take place as scheduled—because Price may call early elections.)

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4. Fuentes Mohr said he sees “one problem”. That is Price’s attitude. He characterized Price as having mystic, or martyr, in him. As example, he cited Price’s intention to distribute propaganda-document to all member UN—a step which inevitably would have provoked Guatemalan response, to detriment whole negotiating process. Another example Fuentes Mohr gave was Price’s UN Day speech, made after telegram sent from New York by his own people requesting him to desist. What bothered Fuentes Mohr was that this gesture was so patently unnecessary. UN Day hardly occasion on which Price obligated or under heavy pressure to make speech this nature. Fuentes Mohr added that Guatemala has successfully avoided “echo”, or propaganda response, here.

5. Fuentes Mohr gratified at understanding British Hondurans displayed in New York of need to avoid heating up B.H. independence issue between now and March. When I asked what timing ultimate agreement might conceivably be Fuentes Mohr said it would certainly not be before March. Best time for preliminary agreement might be between March and July, with new Guatemalan administration reconfirming understanding after taking office. As good PR man Fuentes Mohr confident of PR victory, and envisages no problem Fuentes Pieruccini government confirming understanding. Skinner Klee has talked with Bobby Herrera of MLN, and Fuentes Mohr is hopeful even MLN government might honor understanding reached. (Of course, this does not speak to their handling of issue in campaign.)

6. Regarding US role, Fuentes Mohr keenly interested in possibility we might give technical, and financial assistance to joint Guatemalan-B.H. consortium, development bank, development authority, or other such instrumentality. Guatemalan thinking very preliminary this regard, and Fuentes Mohr would welcome any suggestions we might have. What Fuentes Mohr wants is some indication now that US willing to be helpful if other questions worked out. He wants best possible “carrot” for working out cooperation agreement. (Fuentes Mohr is also concerned British Hondurans have naive attitude that independence will be “open sesame” for IBRD and other international loans.)

7. Responding to Fuentes Mohr’s question, I said I did not believe USG has developed position re possible economic assistance in connection GOG–B.H. cooperation agreement. I promised to ask Department what USG attitude is and how far we might be willing and able [Page 3] to go in connection overall resolution B.H. problem.

8. (Trew tells me what B.H. needs now is rapid education on institutions Central American integration. Specifically, Trew would like all written information we can give him, and wants to explore possibility ROCAP man going discreetly to Belize to give quick course on integration to key B.H. officials. Trew is tentatively exploring possibilities with Sause, and our assumption is Department wishes us all to be as helpful as we can.

9. Request Dept authorize transmission this Exdis message to London, Mexico, Ottawa, USUN and Belize.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 785, Country Files, Latin America, Guatemala, Vol. I. Confidential; Exdis. Sent for action. A stamped notation on the telegram indicates that it was received in the White House Situation Room on November 1 at 9:50 a.m. In telegram 192533 to Guatemala City, November 14, the Department of State indicated that it could not give a direct response to Fuentes Mohr’s question regarding possible U.S. financial and technical assistance, but it would welcome input from him on how the United States might contribute to a cooperation agreement between Guatemala and British Honduras. (Ibid.)
  2. Davis and Fuentes Mohr discussed the border dispute with British Honduras and what role, if any, the United States might play in providing technical and financial assistance as a “‘carrot’ for working out some kind of cooperation agreement.” Davis indicated that he would find out what the “USG attitude” was on the matter.