357. Memorandum From Arnold Nachmanoff of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1 2

[Page 1]


  • Guatemala

US policy toward Guatemala since the election of President Carlos Arana has been to support with substantial amounts of military aid and public safety assistance his efforts to deal with Cuban-supported leftist insurgency in Guatemala. It was made clear to Arana that our support was designed to strengthen and improve the capabilities of his official security services, so that the Guatemalan Government would not have to resort to the extra-legal counter-terrorist operations which had characterized some of its previous efforts. At that time Arana indicated his full agreement with that objective.

The memorandum at Tab A, which I received from CIA, indicates that we have a major policy problem on our hands. Not only have the security services been unable and unwilling to professionalize and improve their procedures, but it is now clear that they have become punitive instruments for counter-terrorism and political assassination. The official Guatemalan security service is directed by President Arana’s wife’s cousin, and it is clearly responsible to Arana personally. Moreover, the Agency has recently received fairly firm information that Arana has personally given to the security chief lists of persons to be eliminated. These people are not just suspected terrorists, but also political opponents.

I think it is clear that we must reconsider our support for the Arana Government in light of (a) the dangerous incompetence of the security services and (b) firm information that they are engaged in counterterrorism and political assassination under the personal direction of President Arana. A $2 million grant MAP materiel program for Guatemala is presently pending implementation. I have agreed with Charlie Meyer that we should put a hold on it as well as other forms of assistance at the present time until we can consider this issue at the policy level.

[Page 2]

My recommendation is that this should be taken up in the 40 Committee in view of the sensitivity of the information. The time probably has come to tell Arana there has got to be a fundamental change in his mode of operation if we are to provide any more support in the future. Given his mentality (he was known as the “Butcher of Zacapa” for his alleged counter-terrorist activities when he was commander of the Zacapa Military Region) there is some question about whether we can reach a satisfactory arrangement with him.

You should also be aware of the fact that Congressman Fascell plans to hold hearings on our Public Safety Program in Guatemala when Congress reconvenes.


That you place this subject on the agenda for an early 40 Committee meeting.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 785, Country Files, Latin America, Guatemala, Vol. I. Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only; Outside the System. Sent for action. Tab A is published as Document 356. On an attached August 19 note from Kennedy, Kissinger approved discussion of the issue at a 40 Committee meeting.
  2. Nachmanoff suggested a reconsideration of U.S. support for the Arana government and recommended that the issue be taken up in the 40 Committee.