345. Telegram 4283 From the Embassy in Guatemala to the Department of State1 2

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  • Internal Security: State of Siege

1. Approximately 500 were arrested during siege. Number includes curfew violators as well as those arrested after house searches or at roadblocks. Great majority subsequently released. PR youth leader Danilo Roca expected to be free due determination military uniforms found during search his residence belonged to his Army officer brother-in-law. Still detained are ex-Vice MinGov Casteneda Morgan and ex-Judicial Chief Garcia Gomez, both exhibited in court and not found mistreated. (Minister Government Arenales told me yesterday government-issue equipment found at Castaneda Morgan’s finca—including typewriters whose serial numbers on Ministry Government inventory records.) University association (AEU) requested Nov. 17 “exhibition” about 15 detained who presumed to be university students.

2. GOG announced Nov 18 discovery by military police (PMA’s) in San Marcos department subversive material during house search: find included rifle, PGT literature, “FAR” membership list, military hat, training books. Also, GOG spokesman 17 Nov admonished two radio stations and afternoon daily La Tarde for spreading “alarming” news items. Security forces’ strict enforcement poignantly illustrated Izabal department Nov 15 when military patrol shot and killed youth who failed [Page 2] heed “halt” order.

3. By far most press coverage of recent days given to police haircut campaign (Guatemala 4243). Police took scissors and razors to streets again Nov 17; this time shaven heads included bus drivers and passengers, university students, and possibly one U.S. citizen (tourist).

4. In face widespread and growing public indignation, Army released communique Nov 17: “Measure taken by police to cut hair those persons who style it long is basically due series of criminal acts—principally political banditry” in which victims and witnesses regularly describe perpetrators these outrages as youths with long hair and even wigs. Rigorous cutting done in order that remaining long-hairs in future will be held suspect for crimes. However, Nov 18 Army ordered police halt abuses and invited mini-skirted gals who suffered insults and male youths charged for haircuts to make immediate complaint to Army. New order Nov 19 exempted well-dressed long-haired youths from police campaign.

5. Congress Nov 18 interrupted session to consider haircutting question: URD Deputy Mijangos introduced resolution recommending stop to this violation human rights, but discussion ceased when right coalition broke quorum. Pro-government Deputy Ronaldo Porta Espana told press police handling of mini-skirted girls an abuse, but agreed with haircutting which will “unmask” those of long hair who commit crimes. DCG condemned police action and asked for immediate stop to “absurd persecution”.

6. Comment: As we move into seventh day under state of siege, it still not clear how much success GOG will have in making inroads against terrorists. Some arrests have been made based on intelligence information. Only time and further investigation will determine whether useful leads will result. Arrests of PR leaders (Fuentes Mohr and Roca) Salvadoran fishing boat incident and haircutting campaign have partially tarnished GOG efforts root out terrorists.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 23–8 GUAT. Confidential. Repeated to CINCSO for POLAD.
  2. Ambassador Davis reported on internal security, counter-terrorism, and the Guatemalan Government’s state of siege, noting that “some arrests have been made based on intelligence information.”