This memorandum was drafted by a secretary, summarizing a United States National Security Council (NSC) meeting on June 17, 1954, just one day before the forces led by Castillo Armas invaded Guatemala to begin the coup. The document contains information about the Department of Justice’s antitrust suit against UFCO. A year before the meeting, the NSC had requested that the Department of Justice “[refrain] from instituting its anti-trust suit against the United Fruit Company, on the grounds of national security.” The purpose of this meeting was to try to get permission from the Attorney General to extend that request. Though some wanted to protect UFCO, Secretary Dulles “feared that if the Department of Justice announced the suit in the next few days the results might tend to support the position which President Arbenz had taken in Guatemala, this would probably not be so a month from now, by which time the situation in Guatemala would have been clarified.”
The “position” referred to is that protecting UFCO was the only reason for U.S. intervention in Guatemala. As a result, going ahead with the suit might be a better image for the United States. This quote also mentions the timing of announcing the suit, which Dulles said might be suspicious, but would be fine once the situation in Guatemala is “clarified.” By this, he seems to mean that once the new regime is installed, UFCO will not be a target of the Guatemalan government. The extensive and contentious discussion of UFCO in this document reveals how important of a political tool UFCO was for the United States during this time. It also emphasizes that their concern about UFCO was central to the discussion of Guatemala.
“Mr. Cutler reminded the Council that by its action a year previously the Department of Justice had refrained from instituting its anti-trust suit against the United Fruit Company, on the grounds of national security. The year had now elapsed, and as the Council had directed, the Attorney General was again raising the problem. Mr. Cutler called on the Attorney General to give his views, and then asked to be excused from participation in the Council’s consideration of this subject in view of the connections of the Old Colony Trust Company with the United Fruit Company.
The Attorney General then asked Judge Stanley Barnes to read to the Council a letter on this subject addressed to it through Mr. Cutler (copy filed in the minutes of the meeting). This letter described in some detail a series of conferences between representatives of the Department of Justice and representatives of the United Fruit Company. The letter also set forth the terms of a proposed settlement of the issue by a consent decree. The United Fruit Company, however, still insisted that it was not guilty of any violations of the anti-trust laws, and had refused to consider a solution by consent decree unless the Government revealed in advance the evidence it possessed of violations by the United Fruit Company of the anti-trust laws. The letter ended by raising the question whether the Department of Justice should or should not now proceed to institute proceedings against the United Fruit Company. The Attorney General added that the Department of Justice wished to go ahead with the suit if the Council had no objections on grounds of national security.
Secretary Dulles said that the Department of State saw no reason why the Department of Justice should not proceed forthwith to institute the suit. Secretary Wilson questioned Judge Barnes as to the precise violations of the law allegedly committed by the United Fruit Company, and Judge Barnesprovided several illustrations. While Secretary Wilson still doubted the advisability of proceeding with the suit at the present time, the President expressed the opinion that the suit should be instituted if, as seemed to be the case, the United Fruit Company had violated the law. Secretary Dulles repeated his similar view, and added that on balance it might be positively advantageous to U.S. policy in Latin America if the suit were instituted. Many of the Central American countries were convinced that the sole objective of United States foreign policy was to protect the fruit company. It might be a good idea to go ahead and show them that this was not the case, by instituting the suit….
Mr. Allen Dulles said that given a little more time, the Central American states would do Justice’s job for it. While he feared that if the Department of Justice announced the suit in the next few days the results might tend to support the position which President Arbenz had taken in Guatemala, this would probably not be so a month from now, by which time the situation in Guatemala would have been clarified.”
Link to full text: https://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1952-54v04/d57
“Memorandum of Discussion at the 202d Meeting of the National Security Council on Thursday, June 17, 1954.” U.S. Department of State Office of the Historian, June 17, 1954. https://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1952-54v04/d57.