332. Telegram 785 From the Embassy in Guatemala to the Department of State1 2

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  • Holly Kidnapping

1. Evening March 8 Holly prepared three hour tape his experiences. Embassy now transcribing tapes and will send complete transcript ASAP via pouch. Holly has consented respond questions key officers various sections of mission after they have read transcript. Planning hold this session afternoon March 1. Will tape and send transcript Department for Washington agencies.

2. Highlights Holly’s statement:

(A) Terrorists told Holly inform Ambassador FAR objects to US political, military, economic and cultural intervention (USIS proved be example latter);

(B) FAR holds US responsible for any acts brutality committed by police or armed forces and assumes that US assistance through MILGP (which repeatedly singled out as prime culprit) and public safety to security forces represents control over activities and practices. Also claimed 1,000 Green Berets in country aiding in counter-guerrilla operations.

(C) Terrorists appeared ill-informed Embassy structure and [Page 2] operation. For example assumed Second Secretary was top official; but said other US Govt employees under surveillance;

(D) Holly not interrogated about his work or about Embassy in general way;

(E) Took pride in attack upon electoral registrary February 24 since he had follow car and noted that Ambassador Davis could also be victim such attack, but seemed unaware Embassy has armored vehicles;

(F) Holly shown machine gun allegedly used murder Ambassador John Gordon Mein, August 28 1968;

(G) Terrorists took credit for Fuentes Mohr kidnapping, said had been involved in other kidnappings and burning warehouse at Escuintla;

(H) Youths made point that they all university students in various faculties;

(I) Terrorists showed exceptional coolness, professionalism and efficiency throughout operation;

(J) Several times Holly threatened with torture;

(K) Terrorists revealed great sensitivity concerning FAR reputation especially in US; said received aid and advice from Cuba but stressed theirs was national movement. Indicated pride and concern their image among other terrorist groups in Near East, Vietnam, Laos, etc.

3. Holly remembers few details about individuals since blindfolded most of time and cannot see well without glasses. Press statements accurately reflect generally good treatment, although Holly, for obvious reasons, did not mention torture threats to press.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 23–8 GUAT. Confidential; Limdis; Priority. Repeated to USCINCSO. In response to a congressional request, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense William E. Lang stated: “During the past year at one time or another special forces MTT’s were in eleven countries for periods ranging from four days to six months. The size of the teams ranged from one to sixteen people.” (Washington National Records Center, OASD/ISA Files: FRC 330–72A–6309, Box 22, Latin America, 1969)
  2. The Embassy reported the debriefing of Labor Officer Sean Holly, kidnapped on March 6 and released by the FAR on March 8.