342. Telegram 4209 From the Embassy in Guatemala to the Department of State1 2

[Page 1]

[text not declassified]

For Asst Secretary Meyer

[text not declassified] have enabled us to locate residences of one or two truly important leaders of each organization. [text not declassified] possibility that now is the time to turn this information over to GOG.

Arguments in favor include fact GOG is very much on spot to deliver—having finally declared state of siege and committed its prestige to success. Without our help there is increased danger GOG may lean excessively on rounding up university leftists, “intellectual leaders” of subversion, etc. (Although in fact they have made two or three important strikes against real terrorists). Moreover, if we wait, information may become useless as terrorist leaders go into deep hiding, move from place to place, etc.

[text not declassified] possibility of keeping [text not declassified] locations as trump card to play with President Arana if American should be kidnapped. Idea would be—after American taken—to give GOG chance to seize terrorist leaders and make discreet exchange offer. In this way, GOG could deal from strength while rescuing America. Drawback of this contingency plan is—as noted above—that our information could become useless at any time. We would also have very tricky operation on our hands.

Quite apart from our contingency plan, we must recognize GOG engaged in operation which has sensitive aspects—particularly if GOG moves in on university (which authorized under new public order law) or if numerous or prominent people are killed in course present army-police search operations. Moreover, GOG seizure of truly important FAR and Communist leaders [Page 2] could trigger direct reaction against US personnel, which we know terrorists regard as their best card in such circumstances. Considering that “Simeon,” head of FAR urban resistance, has already been killed and [text not declassified] another important FAR member captured. We may already be fully targeted—as [text not declassified] suggests. Nevertheless capturing top leader is more sensitive than killing him, and GOG would in fact try to capture top leaders for interrogation if we give them info. There is no question such development will pull us closer in, and marginally reduce our options if an American should be taken.

Nevertheless, there is much to be said for helping GOG to be effective in present test. We expect them to face risks, and tendency of Mendez government to shy away from hard choices was important factor in their indifference success (as when they captured Acting Secretary General of Communist Party and pushed him across border—only to have him back in operation within Guatemala a day later). In contrast to Mendez administration, we now have government ready to act of basis of help we can give them.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 785, Country Files, Latin America, Guatemala, Vol. I. Secret; Nodis; Priority. A note, initialed by Kissinger, reads: “Al, Put into 40-Committee urgently.” Haig initialed the response, “done.”
  2. Ambassador Davis reported that the Embassy had information on residences of “one or two truly important leaders” of the Rebel Armed Forces (FAR) and Guatemalan Worker’s Party (PGT) and raised the possibility of providing this information to the Guatemalan Government. The Ambassador recognized that providing such information might “pull us closer in,” but noted that “we now have Government ready to act on basis of help we can give them.”