181. Memorandum From the Director of the Office of Security Assistance and Sales, Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs (Lewis) to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Bowdler)1


  • Military Assistance to Guatemala

We will face a number of difficulties in justifying to the Congress the President’s FY 1975 Security Assistance Legislation. The country programs that pose special problems for us include Cambodia, the UAR, Greece and Chile. Each of these has been carefully reviewed and agreement has been reached to go forward in an effort to overcome opposition on the Hill. I do not believe we should add to the list of issues on which the Congress can challenge Security Assistance.

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Guatemala strikes me as a potential candidate for challenge. The GOG’s “fraudulent popular vote count” (Guatemala 1453) deprived the opposition of victory in the March 3 election. Senator Kennedy has taken critical note of this denouement. The impending expulsion of the Maryknoll priests will keep the issue alive. The Foreign Military Sales Act states “the sense of Congress that sales and guarantees . . . shall not be approved where they would have the effect of arming dictators who are denying the growth of fundamental rights or social progress to their own people.” I believe the situation is sufficiently serious to warrant placing the question of assistance to Guatemala under review.

Accordingly, PM is holding in abeyance a message authorizing the Country Team to propose a $2 million FY 1974 FMS Credit Program to the GOG. I would appreciate your views on this matter, given our anticipated difficulties on the Hill and the need to secure as broad support as possible in the Congress for the President’s FY 1975 Security Assistance Program.

  1. Summary: Noting the potential for difficulties in justifying Security Assistance to Guatemala in the FY 1975 budget given its apparently fraudulent elections and other issues of concern, Lewis informed Bowdler that, pending review, the Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs planned to hold in abeyance proposed Foreign Military Sales to Guatemala.

    Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P800109–1962. Confidential. Drafted on March 26 by James L. Clunan in PM/SAS and cleared by James H. Michel in L/PM, Alexander Schnee in H, and Robert T. Grey in PM/SAS. Telegram 1453 from Guatemala City is ibid., [no film number].