193. Telegram 1453 From the Embassy in Guatemala to the Department of State1

1453. Subject: Guatemalan Air Force Purchase of C–47s.

1. In septel Embassy and MILGP request increase in approved U.S. force objective for Guatemala to 21 C–47 aircraft in order permit GOG [Page 549] to purchase 11 used C–47s from USAF. We first officially heard of GOG desire to purchase entire 11 (instead of four previously planned) when Foreign Minister called in Ambassador March 13 to meet with him and MOD Rubio. The two Ministers had received report from their Military Attaché in Washington of a turndown by “Pentagon” of Guatemalan request and they asked Ambassador to do what he could to obtain approval.

2. Rubio told Ambassador at least 20 C–47s were necessary in order move entire parachute battalion at one time and to give all members of battalion parachute training at least once a month. Most important use of planes, however, would be for commercial cargo carrying inside Guatemala, need for which is expected to increase as oil companies begin to invest in Peten. Oil companies (and perhaps other companies involved in other construction and development projects elsewhere in country) would be required to fly their supplies in on GAF planes, as Rubio understood was also the case in Ecuador and Colombia.

3. Ambassador took opportunity to seek assurances concerning Guatemalan intentions with regard to Belize and specifically assurances concerning non-use of these planes in parachute drop on Belize. Gen. Rubio said he could tell us Guatemala is not seeking planes in connection with Belize.

4. Ambassador said he would inform Washington that the Ministers had assured him informally that there was no connection between Guatemalan desire to acquire additional used C–47s and any possible military adventure in Belize, and that it was not Guatemala’s intention to use C–47s in any way to cause embarrassment to U.S. Foreign Minister commented that military action was not solution to Belize problem. It would only cause greater problems. Detailed memcon pouched.

5. After careful consideration of our interests and relationship with Guatemala and risks involved, Ambassador recommends approval of Guatemalan request.

  1. Summary: The Foreign and Defense Ministers requested Ambassador Meloy’s assistance in securing the purchase of C–47 aircraft from the U.S. Air Force. Defense Minister Rubio assured the Ambassador that the aircraft would not be used against Belize.

    Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D750097–0228. Confidential; Limdis. In telegram 1450 from Guatemala City, March 19, the Embassy and MILGP recommended approving the aircraft sale. (Ibid., D750097–0169)