333. Telegram 980 From the Embassy in Guatemala to the Department of State1 2

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  • Internal Security

1. I took occasion of meeting with Colonel Arana March 20 to discuss internal security problem with him in preliminary and general way. Colonel Arana shares our concern over kidnapping and other possible acts of violence against Mission personnel. He regards this as part of larger problem of internal security and public order which is his principal concern.

2. I told Colonel we share his concern over security situation in country as a whole and particularly in Guatemala City. We are prepared to cooperate to try to find solution and prepared to consider material and technical assistance in support of Guatemala’s efforts.

3. I said one of the most pressing needs appears to be improvement effectiveness of several police organizations. One of underlining problems is low operating budgets. It is clear that budgets must be substantially increased if these services are to carry out assigned roles according to Colonel Arana’s expressed views. Order must be maintained within framework of constitutionality.

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4. Arana indicated general agreement, and said he was thinking of trying to develop elite police corps. I mentioned police academy. Arana said there had been effort to start just such academy during Castillo-Armas time, but it had been allowed to die. He reflected that trouble with every Guatemalan Government is that it turns its back on efforts and projects of previous regime simply because they are of previous regime, and starts in all over again.

5. I said we had made it clear over period of time that of GOG will step up its efforts, budgets and commitments, we are prepared to increase our own assistance. We would be happy to enter discussions on these matters and would welcome opportunity to work with President-elect’s representatives.

6. I then mentioned several specific areas: a. improvement mobile radio patrols in Guatemala City, b. improvement National Police communications center to provide more rapid despatch of, and expanded, radio patrol car operation.

7. At this point Arana cut in and said: and better police laboratories, fingerprinting and technical capabilities. I indicated we were interested in exactly these things and continued: c. better maintenance of arms (principally revolvers, carbines, and shotguns) and better training in their use. d. development of “saturation patrols” for use in emergencies. e. improvement of investigative capability through training and through better transport and communications. f. better fingerprinting and records program, and g. more personnel and equipment in rural areas.

8. Arana indicated he wanted to discuss this subject further after Easter. His idea is to do as much as possible to get organized between now and July 1, as he believes he will be “on the spot” in terms of his [Page 3] ability to produce on July 2.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 23 GUAT. Confidential.
  2. Ambassador Davis met with President-elect Arana to discuss Guatemala’s internal security problems and to offer assistance.