649. Central Intelligence Agency Information Cable, TDCS 314/10866–691 2

[Page 1]


  • El Salvador/Honduras


  • 22 July 1969


  • Salvadoran SitRep ason 1700 local time (22 July 1969)


  • [text not declassified]


  • [text not declassified]

1. [text not declassified] Comment: All available information indicates that at the expiration of the cease fire at 2205 hours local on 22 July, the Salvadoran troop will remain in position.)

2. On the night of 21 July the Government of El Salvador (GOES) submitted a document to the OAS Committee containing GOES conditions for the withdrawal of Salvadoran troops from Honduran territory. The conditions include demands that the international organizations guarantee an effective system for the safety of the approximately 300,000 Salvadoran residents in Honduras, reparations and identification for Honduran crimes against Salvadorans in Honduras, and punishment of those Hondurans responsible. The document also stated that Salvadoran troops will not re-initiate hostilities when the cease fire expires tonight. [text not declassified] (PDC source comment: The GOES realized beforehand that these conditions would be wholly unsatisfactory to the OAS. The document was submitted in this form to reassure the Salvadoran public their government is reflecting the prevailing hard line mood, and to show world public opinion that at least the GOES is making proposals and is not completely intractable.)

3. During the morning of 22 July, Salvadoran women held three manifestations to show their support for the position of the GOES. The first was at the national airport where the approximately 200 women, some well dressed in black and obviously from the more prosperous sectors of society, expected to meet the members of the COAS/OC who were scheduled to leave for Tegucigalpa. When they missed this party, approximately 800 the ladies regrouped and paraded around the U.S. Embassy building. They were peaceful and [Page 2] orderly, sang the Salvadoran national anthem, made the V for victory sign, and carried placards which asked for justice to those expelled from Honduras and for no troop withdrawal. [text not declassified]

4. Felipe Antonio Zaldivar, influential leader of Salvadoran Federations of Independent Unions, plans to publish an ultimatum by 23 July demanding that the OAS publish within 24 hours its report on its investigation of El Salvador’s charges of genocide against Honduras. Zaldivar, who personally believes the OAS did an objective job of investigating, said that the motions against the OAS have suddenly become so strong among the rank-and-file that he must leave logic aside for the most part and attack the OAS at the insistence of his boards of directors. [text not declassified] Comment: One of Zaldivar’s federations published a hard-line statement to the OAS on 19 July which the national radio net featured in broadcast on 20 July.)

5. Rationale for the ultimatum is that if the OAS carried out a proper investigation, they will charge Honduras with genocide, and this should be published without delay. If there is no genocide charge, the OAS should say so.

6. Zaldivar and other labor and government officials comment that there is growing speculation regarding the possibilities of increasing El Salvador’s ties with European and Asian countries in the event the OAS and the U.S. apply sanctions against El Salvador. Most of these officials are puzzled by the absence of OAS publicity of its non-partisan and humanitarian actions to date, of which Zaldivar was appraised by OAS Ambassador Fernandez in a personal talk. While such publicity would help the situation, the OAS is still generally considered to have become a stultified formal organization with little real power, and therefore defiable.

7. The attitude of the U.S. Government is of major concern, however, government and labor leaders are trying their statements to minimize the popular belief that the U.S. Government manipulates the OAS. This is to avoid as far as possible a deterioration of relations between the two governments by keeping El Salvador’s complaints directed primarily against the OAS. The U.S. Embassy San Salvador’s silence in the face of growing talk the U.S. Government is favoring Honduras is being taken more and more as an “admission of guilt.” However, this will make it difficult to avoid direct criticism of the U.S. Government.

[Page 3]

8. The employees of the hotel in which the OAS Committee is staying are considering going on strike as part of the general Salvadoran protest against the OAS. [text not declassified]

9. Jorge Shafic Handal, a top level leader of the Communist Party of El Salvador (PCES), met with University of El Salvador (UES) student leaders on the afternoon of 21 July to plan campaign to channel growing anti-OAS sentiment toward U.S. official and business interests in El Salvador. Handal said that the moment the OAS applies sanctions against El Salvador, by now almost a foregone conclusion, the PCES effort will be to point out the dominance of the OAS by the U.S. Government (USG) emphasize current talk that the USG is favoring Honduras and ignoring El Salvador, point out the U.S. Embassy’s silence on these charges as proof, link all this to the PCES’ standard line regarding U.S. imperialism in El Salvador, and take advantage of the expected violent public reaction to the sanctions to stage protest rallies and demonstrations, some of them at the U.S. Embassy. Handal then assigned responsibilities for turning out propaganda articles, posters and other organizing chores in anticipation of the rallies. [text not declassified]

10. There is a rising anti-American feeling among the Salvadorans due to the widespread belief that the U.S. and the OAS (which they consider a U.S. instrument) are prejudiced in favor of Honduras. [text not declassified]

11. [text not declassified] Comment: Talk critical of the U.S. has been prevalent since the beginning of the conflict, but has escalated since the cease fire on 15 July. Salvadorans, normally admirers of the U.S., feel that the U.S. has not taken a strong position in the dispute. This has given credence to stories that U.S. economic interests in Honduras (banana companies, for example) make the USG lean favorably toward Honduras. They do not expect the USG to come out in favor of one country or another but do desire more forceful open participation of the U.S. in finding a solution to the crisis. They also expect some sort of public answer to stories such as those concerning Cuban ships coming with arms to Honduras, and the detention by the USG of an Israeli ship at the Panama Canal that was bound for El Salvador with arms. The escalation and intensity of feeling being generated is such as to cause concern among those Salvadorans who consider themselves friends of the U.S.

12. A P–51 Mustang aircraft, painted orange and red with a black hood, landed at the national airport at Ilopango on 22 July and was shunted into the Salvadoran Air Force hanger. [text not declassified] Comment: This is the fourth P–51 which has been reported having landed at Ilopango airport in the last two days. Although various Salvadoran purchasing missions are abroad, there is no confirmation that these planes were purchased for use by the Salvadoran Air Force)

13. ([text not declassified] Comment: [text not declassified] reported that a student demonstration in front of the U.S. Embassy is scheduled for the afternoon or evening of 22 July, to protest the USG’s “manipulation” of the OAS. The 22 July issue of the student newspaper obtained articles reflecting the PCES line reported in paragraph 9.)

14. [text not declassified]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 786, Country Files, Latin America, Honduras–Salvador Dispute. Confidential; Noforn. The telegram was sent to the White House Situation Room, SSO ACSI DA, SSO Arlington Hall Station, AFSSO USAF, ONO, DIA/ISIC, JCS, NIC, USIA, FBI, DIRNZA Command Center, the Department of State, and CIA-OCI. A stamped notation on section 1 of this 2-part telegram indicates that the classification was upgraded to Secret; Noforn. The final section of this telegram, however, bears the stamped notation Confidential; Noforn.
  2. CIA reported that although the OAS-mandated 96-hour withdraw was about to expire and Salvadoran troops were not retreating, the Salvadoran Government had already notified the OAS that it did not plan to re-initiate hostilities. CIA noted the proliferation of anti-OAS and anti-U.S. demonstrations in San Salvador.