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Cryptonym: ESCROW

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Unknown identity. A memo in December of 1953 described ESCROW as having "an extensive number of contacts in high government Spanish-Communist and Spanish-Republican circles" in Guatemala.
According to a report in mid-December, 1953, ESCROW was a Spaniard, who has "furnished information of great value" which he had "obtained from his high level contacts in Guatemalan political life." He was "currently considered our most (REDACTION) and valuable agent in Guatemala". In addition, ESCROW was "of outstanding value from the standpoint of psychological barometer work" (see page 12): https://www.cia.gov/readingroom/docs/DOC_0000923959.pdf

Donald Hediger, Cyrus Burnette and Arthur Vaivada (Ross Crozier) were among the CIA officers who had contact with ESCROW in 1953-1954.

A cable in January, 1954, stated that on December 8, 1953, ESCROW overheard fragments of a conversation between Major Jaime Rosenberg, head of Guardia Judicial, and a withheld identity. Remarks were apparently made with regard to activities against the Guatemala government in El Salvador, and the necessity for vigilance over such activities.

A dispatch in March of 1954 stated that ESCROW also had contacts within diplomatic and consular circles, in addition to those mentioned above.

A dispatch on May 6, 1954, stated that ESCROW knew Carlos Manuel Pellecer (later assigned the cryptonym LINLUCK) in Paris several years ago, and was considering a cold approach to him in a third country.


10/22/52: Cable from Sr. Rep. Guatemala City to Director: OPERATIONAL FROM OLIVER G. GALBOND (J. C. King): Page 3: ..."FIELD COMMENTS...3. There is no overt evidence of unusual tension. ESCROW furnished 15 Oct what he called 'rumors' of (1) movement against govt by military and (2) movement by military with Arbenz to form rightist dictatorship. ESCROW commented he attributes the tension to interparty and intraparty political struggles..."


12/01/53: Memorandum from Withheld to Special Deputy to CWH, Project PBSUCCESS: Subject: Personnel-Guatemala: ..."5. The Station should have one new experienced FI staff agent in a covert capacity (REDACTION). (REDACTION) travel (REDACTION) and conform at least in a general way to the qualifications as outlined above for the possible replacement of Hediger. This (REDACTION) would act as direct supervisor of ESCROW, who has an extensive number of contacts in high government Spanish-Communist and Spanish-Republican circles. Hediger is now acting as (REDACTION) with ESCROW but ESCROW needs direct supervision rather than supervision by means of written communications as in the case at present. This new (REDACTION) would have the principal task of Communist Party and high government penetration not only through ESCROW but also by the development of new sources. In the event it is not found possible to acquire the services of this proposed new FI (REDACTION) as an alternative we will have to use as supervisor of ESCROW, (REDACTION) but (REDACTION) use would entail an additional security problem because of the difficulty of making the street contacts with ESCROW who is well known in government circles and any observation of him in contact with American Embassy officials would immediately blow him...If we continue to use him, he will have to be supervised by the proposed new FI (REDACTION) or (REDACTION) the same as in the case of ESCROW..."


01/05/54: Cable from Director to LINCOLN: RYBAT/PBSUCCESS: "1. HGG-A-563 to DIR, (REDACTION) stated: '8 December, source overheard fragments of conversation between (REDACTION) and Major Jaime Rosenberg, head of Guardia Judicial. Remarks were made with regard to activities against GUAT government being carried on in El Salvador and necessity for vigilance over such activities. Reference also made to need for continuing to pay (REDACTION) (phonetic).' Source: ESCROW. Eval B-3. SGUAT (CIA station in Guatemala) has no records..."


02/22/54: Report Made by: Cyrus E. Burnette. Approved by: (REDACTION). From: Guatemala City, Guatemala. Source Cryptonym: ESCROW. Source, Operational Data, and Comments: "Source: ESCROW from Isidro Lemus Dimas, Guatemalan lawyer who has done legal work for the Communists." - - - Page 2: Subject: Distribution of Communist Propaganda in Guatemala. Place Acquired: Guatemala City. Source: Individual with contacts in Communist groups. ..."2. The source of information stated he had been told by Gilberto Del Valle that the company had sent $1,500 to Czechoslovakia with the request that additional films from the USSR be sent to Guatemala..."


03/10/54: Air dispatch from COS, Guatemala to LINCOLN: Subject: General - Operational. Specific - KUFIRE Tasks, PBSUCCESS: Signed by Cyrus E. Burnette. - - - Page 2: ..."FT/2: ESCROW: Responsible Officer: Cyrus E. Burnette: ESCROW's numerous contacts with Spanish and Guatemalan groups as well as within diplomatic and consular circles continue to afford reporting station with timely information on personalities and groups. His information to date continues to be more KUFIRE (Intelligence) in nature but he is being briefed on the current necessity of providing information which will serve as a guide in future policy planning. He is also being briefed on the necessity of concentrating his efforts within high level pro-government political circles although, as will be noted from his past performance, he is fairly well entrenched in such groups at present. The security aspect of this FT is believed good but efforts are being made to provide him with a more secure place of contact. Currently we are awaiting authorization to reimburse the contract agent who is ESCROW's cut-out for his purchase of an automobile which will be used principally in contacts with ESCROW for the present. Communications between the Case Officer and ESCROW are channeled through the cut-out and there is no present reason to believe the channel is not secure. ESCROW's monthly salary continues to be (REDACTION) plus an average of (REDACTION) to cover expenses incurred by him during his work for us." - - - Page 5: ..."FT/10: Arthur G. Vaivada (Ross Crozier): Responsible Officer - Cyrus E. Burnette: Direct contact between the Case Officer and Vaivada has been maintained since 4 January 1954. Since 22 January 1954, Vaivada has been in direct contact with ESCROW...The Case Officer and Vaivada meet on the average of twice each week especially on the morning following each meeting between ESCROW and Vaivada..."


04/06/54: Air dispatch from COS, Guatemala to LINCOLN: Subject: General - Operational. Specific - Situation Report by ESCROW/PBSUCCESS: "1. The following information was furnished by source ESCROW on the night of 2 April 1954. According to (REDACTION) ESCROW's information is the result of previous conversations with numerous contacts and of his own reasoning and analyzing the local situation. ESCROW told (REDACTION) that much of the information set forth below is quite general in nature but he is attempting to obtain specific data including names, dates, addresses, etc. 2. When queried as to how and by what means the local Communists plan to meet any major emergency, ESCROW stated he knows of the existence of a mobilization plan which has been worked by the PGT and CGTG. Exact details are not available as yet but ESCROW stated that the PGT and the CGTG have each held several small maneuvers...3. ESCROW further stated there is an escape plan for top party officials of the PGT and CGTG which has been tentatively decided upon. ESCROW could not furnish the exact names of those who will flee in an emergency but did state the individuals concerned have already been told what to do and where to go...10...At the time Vaivada (Ross Crozier) arrived at this station the reporting officer was told that Vaivada would maintain contact with ESCROW but noting was said to the effect that ESCROW would change his method of reporting. The point we are trying to make is that if any oral instructions were given Givloch (Birch O'Neal) concerning either Vaivada or ESCROW, those instructions went no further. We were given to understand that the ESCROW project would remain after the PBSUCCESS (project to overthrow the Arbenz government in Guatemala) project was finished and for that reason ESCROW was not to be drawn too closely into the PBSUCCESS project. 11. We believe we know what is expected of ESCROW, and we shall strive to get the utmost from him...Cyrus E. Burnette."


05/03/54: Dispatch from COS, Guatemala to LINCOLN: Subject: (Unintelligible): Page 2: ..."B. Vaivada (Ross Crozier)-ESCROW: During the time Vaivada handled ESCROW they met in what is believed was a secure manner and there seems to be no reason to believe that ESCROW is compromised. As a result of the probability of Vaivada's compromise, as indicated by (REDACTION)-1203, and since Vaivada had reported a feeling that all was not well and that he seemed under a light surveillance, I decided it best for him to leave the country, not only for his own protection but also to prevent the possibility of a flap which would cause incalculable damage at this time. Vaivada, as per GUAT 444, departed for Costa Rica on 1 May with instructions to contact Lebanow upon arrival and to check as to the probable damage done to his cover in this country. His family is still here pending the results of this check. Even though Burnette reports that in all his contacts with Vaivada there were no indications of any surveillances; nevertheless, it is my opinion that it would be preferable for Vaivada not to return to this country, there does exist a definite possibility that he may be compromised and the arrest of an American career agent would cause more damage than the retaining of what has proven to be only a relatively valuable operation...(REDACTION) Earle N. Bannister (probably John Doherty)."


05/06/54: Dispatch from COS, Guatemala to LINCOLN: Subject: (Unintelligible): "Attached hereto is the fifth in a series of weekly KUFIRE (Intelligence) Operational Reports...Cyrus E. Burnette." - - - Page 2: ..."FT/2: ESCROW: Responsible Officer: Cyrus E. Burnette: Security good; production only relatively good. In our GUAT 463 it was reported ESCROW considered a cold approach to (note: Carlos Manuel) Pellecer feasible but stressed the importance of a third country approach. He knew the subject in Paris several years ago and for that reason favored a third country approach. Our current problem in this project is to find another cutout. Arthur G. Vaivada (Ross Crozier) left on 1 May 1954, and it is doubted that operational security factors will permit him to return..."


06/14/54: Mention on page 3 of names Joseph Kendon and Earle N. Bannister (probably John Doherty): "Source: ESCROW from Rafael de Buen. - - - Page 2: Subject: Jaime Diaz Rozzotto. "Person with excellent contacts in leftist political circles (B) from a local Communist leader (F): Content: 2. 1. Consideration is presently been given by Jaime Diaz Rozzotto, Secretary-General of the Partido de Renovacion Nacional (PRN), to dissolving the PRN unless that party's position improves significantly in the near future. 2. If the PRN is dissolved, Diaz will attempt to join the (Communist) Partido Guatemalteco de Trabajo (PGT). PGT leaders are stated to have grave doubts as to Diaz' amenability to party discipline should he become a member, especially if, as and when such discipline might affect his own standing both in the party hierarchy and as regards his government position as Secretary-General of the Presidency. Ideologically, however, Diaz is considered a promising candidate for party membership."


05/06/69: Dispatch from Chief, Western Hemisphere Division to COS, Withheld; COS, JMWAVE: Subject: JMTEAK - Jose Alberto Cardoza Aguilar: - - - Page 112: ..."(19) ESCROW..." - - - Page 104: ..."As of 20 January 1954 was a member of the presidium of the Second Guatemalan Syndical Congress (19)..."

Gavin McDonald • John Newman • Bill Simpich

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