This document contains the minutes drafted by John M. Leddy of a meeting held by Henry Finch Holland, the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs. The meeting took place May 10, 1954, about a month before the start of the coup, and discusses plans to move forward with the intervention to stop “the Communist problem in Guatemala.” First, the minutes summarize the plan to secure the support of other Latin American countries like Brazil and Honduras, before going before the Organization of American States (OAS) with their complaint. The major risk that Leddy emphasizes is that “once the United States takes Guatemala before the OAS it is quite likely that the Guatemalan Government will move to nationalize all American property in Guatemala; this is chiefly owned by three companies, United Fruit, American and Foreign Power and the IRCA.” The document concludes with a plan to warn these companies of that possible consequence.
Though this document only seems to contain plans for diplomatic action like going in front of the OAS, paying attention to the date makes the intentions of this meeting more clear. By May of 1954, PBSuccess had been authorized for nearly a year, and the coup was only a month away. With this context, the OAS meeting seems more for the purpose of appearances, so that the United States can show that they went through proper channels before carrying out the coup. Their discussion of Honduras is also interesting, as Honduras did not only give their political support, but also military support, providing a base from which the anti-communist forces left to invade Guatemala. The specific mention of keeping UFCO and other companies informed of their diplomatic actions reveals the importance of the companies in the plan and the loyalty these top officials have to the companies.
“11. In reply to several points of difficulty to be encountered in obtaining the votes and in making the action of the OAS effective, Mr. Holland said that the Department would not, of course, proceed until it was sure of a two-thirds vote and would handle the matter in such a way that it could withdraw should it prove impossible to obtain such two-thirds vote.
12. Ambassador Dreier pointed out that Article 53 of the UN Charter requires that enforcement of any regional agreements shall only be taken with the concurrence of the UN Security Council; the USSR could therefore veto the OAS action. Mr. Holland replied that this would clearly stamp Guatemala as a Soviet Satellite and would make clear that the will of the OAS had been thwarted by the USSR. Mr. Atwood suggested that the reference to the UN Charter be incorporated in the brief for the Secretary’s meeting with Ambassador Muniz as the latter is an expert on the UN.
13. Mr. Leddy mentioned once the United States takes Guatemala before the OAS it is quite likely that the Guatemalan Government will move to nationalize all American property in Guatemala; this is chiefly owned by three companies, United Fruit, American and Foreign Power and the IRCA. After pointing out that their property stands to be nationalized in any case, Mr. Holland said that it would be good to inform these companies in advance of our action.”
Link to full text: https://2001-2009.state.gov/r/pa/ho/frus/ike/iv/20210.htm
Leddy, John M. “Minutes of a Meeting, Held in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Holland).” U.S. Department of State Archive. U.S. Department of State Archive, May 10, 1954. https://2001-2009.state.gov/r/pa/ho/frus/ike/iv/20210.htm.