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Cryptonym: SEMANTIC

Definition:
SEMANTIC was probably Domingo Goicolea Villacorta. A cable on June 1, 1954, clarified that it was only SEMANTIC's brother, Hector, who had sought refuge in the Salvadoran Embassy, and not in the Ecuadoran Embassy.
Status:
Probable
Discussion:
A telegram on August 29, 1954, stated that a withheld identity and ZPSEMANTIC mentioned Hector and Domingo Goicolea, among a group of people, who were ready to resign from the government in protest at Carlos Castillo Armas' political activities. Domingo Goicolea Villacorta was the Guatemalan Foreign Minister in 1955-1956. Matthew Ontrich (Nestor Sanchez) complied an interrogation report on SECANT (Major Enrique Trinidad Oliva) and SEMANTIC in April of 1954 which stated that the latter "made a very good impression on Ontrich, Cadick (William Robertson) and Lugton with their detailed knowledge of the internal Guatemalan situation and their optimism on being able to carry out the job." A memo on May 12, 1954, mentioned that SEMANTIC had a net of agents with good high level contacts in the army and government in Guatemala. A cable on May 15, 1954, stated that ESCOBILLA was the funds and communications channel to SEMANTIC for arms distribution. SEMANTIC also supervised SECANT's garrison organization and KUFIRE (Intelligence). A memo on May 30, 1954, stated that SEMANTIC was formerly ESSENCE-3, and was described by Stephen R. Lugton as "very impressive, full of vinegar, with a remarkable amount of tradecraft learned through experience." The memo also added that SEMANTIC was responsible for all political intelligence collection, and it was not known how much contact SEMANTIC had maintained with the ESSENCE group since he had left that network. Documents on June 8 and 9, 1954, mentioned the SEMANTIC intelligence flap. A report on June 10, 1954, described SEMANTIC as a "person with good air force contacts." A cable on July 24, 1954, contained a reference to SEMANTIC's request to visit Washington, D.C.
Sources:

https://www.cia.gov/readingroom/docs/DOC_0000916170.pdf

04/25/54: Debriefing by Ontrich of SEMANTIC and SECANT: "The debriefing of SEMANTIC and SECANT (Major Enrique Trinidad Oliva) was very revealing and satisfactory especially after both cleared the LCFLUTTER (note: Polygraph - "lie detector" - testing). The first basic issue which had to be clarified was the degree of compromise caused by the January torture and interrogation of SECANT. The interrogation by Ontrich (Nestor Sanchez) and a check on the LCFLUTTER revealed no compromise of any assets. The main topic the Guatemalan Police hampered on throughout the interrogation was of a plot against the government by SECANT and ESODIC-1. No mention was even made in the interrogation about Calligeris (Carlos Castillo Armas). Since there was absolutely no truth in this story SECANT was on solid ground throughout the torture and interrogation. After this point was clarified and Calligeris, SECANT and SEMANTIC cleared the LCFLUTTER a detailed debriefing commenced on the internal assets of the Calligeris organization. SECANT and SEMANTIC provided facts, figures and names of leaders, potential leaders and followers in the 9 important areas... Although these people have not received any formal training in clandestine tradecraft it is remarkable what they know and how fast they pick up new ideas. The military angle of the operation was discussed in detail with SECANT and Calligeris. The internal Guatemala PM assets look fairly good...SEMANTIC and SECANT made a very good impression on Ontrich, Cadick (William Robertson) and Lugton with their detailed knowledge of the internal Guatemalan situation and their optimism on being able to carry out the job."

https://www.cia.gov/readingroom/docs/DOC_0000924307.pdf

05/12/54: Memorandum from C. Tracy Barnes to Jake Esterline: Subject: Notes in Response to Questions in DIR 49887: "1. At the Wisner meeting on Tuesday, May 11, I gave some information in response to the questions set forth in the above reference. Most of this information was drawn from notes and I was asked to provide copies of these notes. Enclosed are three such copies. You will know who to give them to although I would recommend that one copy go to Dick Bissell who was particularly anxious to have it. 2. Let me reemphasize that the enclosures are only notes and should not be otherwise interpreted." - - - Page 3: ..."H. Now that SEMANTIC and SECANT (Major Enrique Trinidad Oliva) are in WSBURNT (Guatemala) capital and secure communication lines are set up with station and with Calligeris (Carlos Castillo Armas) believed LINCOLN (note: CIA's Guatemalan covert operations headquarters, a forward base in Florida) will be promptly informed of all significant moves of government. SEMANTIC has net of agents with good high level contacts in army and government. WSBURNT station agents who have high level connections and who are in position to provide info of value are ESSENCE, ESQUIRE, ESPERANCE and ESCROW. Believed that (REDACTION) also will furnish valuable info once he is lined up. Capabilities government to meet PBSUCCESS moves difficult to determine as not known exactly how many officers will elect to actively back regime. However, plans include actions to disrupt communications and transport, cut off or sabotage arms and ammo, and put pressure on officers to join opposition on D-Day..."

https://www.cia.gov/readingroom/docs/DOC_0000136128.pdf

05/15/54: Cable from LINCOLN to Director: Slugline RYBAT PBSUCCESS: "1. Ref A stated need to make GUAT Station channel to ESCOBILLA-SEMANTIC-SECANT (Major Enrique Trinidad Oliva). ESCOBILLA is funds and commo channel to SEMANTIC for arms distribution. SEMANTIC also supervises SECANT garrison organization and KUFIRE (Intelligence). 2. Importance these ops requires case officer who will be in routine contact with ESCOBILLA, emergency contact with SEMANTIC and SECANT. (ESQUIMOID, present GUAT Station cutout to ESCOBILLA, is live letter drop only). Case officers function would be principally to pass KUHOOK (CIA Paramilitary Operations Staff) instructions from Cadick (William Robertson) and Ontrich/Calligeris (Nestor Sanchez/Carlos Castillo Armas) to ESCOBILLA for SEMANTIC. He would also have strictly limited authority to adjust minor discrepancies between instructions and SEMANTIC's capability to comply. Case officer would also receive SEMANTIC and SECANT reports to pass to GUAT Station. 3. Without foregoing, cannot effectively have secure channels between Calligeris in WSHOOFS (Honduras) and Calligeris personnel in WSBURNT (Guatemala). Only this way can dependence on Calligeris courier system be reduced. 4. As stated Ref B, Clower (Joseph G. Sancho) not basically needed by Page (probably Henry Hecksher). He fully agrees to assume functions outlined above. GUAT Station, LINCOLN consider him competent to do so. 5. Clower's tourist cover adequate. Association with ESCOBILLA, if detected which unlikely, can be explained by story of mutual PBPRIME (U.S.) friends. Clower looks sufficiently Latin to blend into atmosphere..." - - - 05/16/54: This dispatch confirmed that Wilfred O. Clower was the case officer of ESCOBILLA, SECANT and SEMANTIC: https://www.cia.gov/readingroom/docs/DOC_0000915230.pdf

https://www.cia.gov/readingroom/docs/DOC_0000922998.pdf

05/30/54: Memorandum for the record: Subject: Calligeris Net Communication with the Guatemala Station: Reference: GUAT 705: ..."2. Brief sketches of the principal agents involved follow: a. ESCOBILLA...The station has attempted to make him the sole channel for passing information and instructions to SECANT and SEMANTIC from the outside and vice versa, although for a long time there was direct contact between SECANT and SEMANTIC...c. SEMANTIC - Used to be connected with ESSENCE in anti-Communist (REDACTION) activities, but replaced (REDACTION) latter fled Guatemala in connection with the (REDACTION) incident. He has been described by Lugton (PS) as 'very impressive, full of vinegar, with a remarkable amount of tradecraft learned through experience.' He is in charge of all political intelligence collection. It is not known how much contact he has maintained with the ESSENCE group since he was detached from them to take over (REDACTION) activities. In the middle of May he approached ESQUIRE on behalf of Calligeris with instructions for ESQUIRE..." - - - Page 3: Diagram: Prior 5 May: Station/Burnette, one line to Razmara (PS), then to ESSENCE. From Station/Burnette, a line to ESCOBILLA and then to SECANT. Finally, a line from ESSENCE to SEMANTIC (formerly ESSENCE-3). - - - Page 4: Diagram: Period 5-23 May: Station/Burnette, a line to ESKIMOID, then a line to ESCOBILLA. Then one line to SEMANTIC and another line to SECANT (from ESCOBILLA). - - - Page 5: Diagram: After 23 May 54: Station/Burnette, a line to Clower (Joseph G. Sancho), then one line to the left to ESPERANCE-3, one line down the middle to ESCOBILLA, and one line to the right to Page, and then a line to ESQUIRE. From ESCOBILLA, one line to SECANT, and another to SEMANTIC. There is a line from Page to Burnette with "alternate/emergency" written alongside it. From ESPERANCE-3 there is a line to SECANT. There is a total of three redactions at the bottom of this diagram.

https://www.cia.gov/readingroom/docs/DOC_0000922877.pdf

06/01/54: Cable from LINCOLN to Director: Slugline RYBAT PBSUCCESS: REF: LINC 3328 (IN 12824): FOR CADICK: "1. WSBURNT (Guatemala) (REDACTION) announced SEMANTIC in DTFROGS (El Salvador) Embassy and brother Hector in Ecuadoran Embassy. Dated (REDACTION). 2. GUAT advised ESSENCE received following from SEMANTIC: A. SEMANTIC brother not SEMANTIC in DTFROGS Embassy (note contrary to para 1 above)..."

https://www.cia.gov/readingroom/docs/DOC_0000922648.pdf

06/08/54: Memorandum from PM Staff to C/P: Subject: Extent of Operation Compromised: Lengthy report mentioning SEMANTIC numerous times.

Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952-1954: Guatemala: Current Section: 176. 6/9/54-Memorandum From Operation PBSUCCESS Headquarters in Florida to the Chief of Station in Guatemala

06/09/54: Memorandum from Operation PBSUCCESS Headquarters in Florida to COS, Guatemala: Subject: Operational KUHOOK Plans: "1. As you have no doubt surmised the recent SEMANTIC flap (2) has occasioned a great deal of soul-searching and assessment within PBSUCCESS in LINCOLN (note: CIA's Guatemalan covert operations headquarters, a forward base in Florida) and the field stations. The conclusions arrived at were inevitable and logical. The compromise of SEMANTIC and portions of his organization is regrettable, especially at this point, but the damage done is not irreparable. We have no alternative but to proceed altering our course of action only enough to by-pass tainted portions of the internal organization. 2. Every effort is being made to bring all PBSUCCESS paramilitary assets to a point of readiness by 12 June 1954. There are two main contingencies for which we are preparing. One is that all assets will be in position and ready to go at our signal. Two is that through some action, spontaneous and uncontemplated, within WSBURNT (Guatemala) the time is right for a revolutionary attempt and PBSUCCESS has no alternative but to capitalize on this spark and use it to our advantage. 3. In preparation for contingency our organizers, sab leaders and radio operators are being dispatched, pre-D-day DZ’s have been selected, shock troops are being positioned, arms are moving forward and five man HORNET teams (duties are harassment and general hell-raising) are being launched...5. Rest assured that action will ensue and probably in the very near future. Especially since during the time of this writing the word has gone out to launch the HORNET teams. There is the possibility that the actions of these teams may be enough to bring already strained atmosphere to a breaking point...Jerome C. Dunbar."

https://www.cia.gov/readingroom/docs/DOC_0000922555.pdf

06/10/54: Report from LINCOLN by George S. Vincent. Approved by: William D. Playdon (Tracy Barnes). Source cryptonym: SEMANTIC. "This material was obtained by Source from (REDACTION). Both were recently arrested. The (REDACTION) worked as an Air Force mechanic prior to that time." - - - Page 2: "Subject: Status of Guatemalan Air Force. Place Acquired: Guatemala, Guatemala City. Source: Person with Good Air Force Contacts (B)..."

https://www.cia.gov/readingroom/docs/DOC_0000137014.pdf

07/24/54: Cable from Senior Representative, Guatemala City to Director: Slugline RYBAT PBSUCCESS: REF: GUAT 087 (IN 30309): ..."4. Ref para 4. Subject JMBLUG (John S. Peurifoy) approval advise Calligeris (Carlos Castillo Armas) group not qualified or able supply such support but that if Calligeris so desires you can on forthcoming trip ZRMETAL (Washington, D.C.) explore in official circles possibility satisfying request including SEMANTIC visit ZRMETAL..." (Handwritten in margin: F.G.W).

Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952-1954: Guatemala: Current Section: 285. 8/29/54-Telegram From the CIA Station in Guatemala to the Central Intelligence Agency

08/29/54: Telegram from Guatemala Station: "208. Re: GUAT 185; (2) DIR 14411. (3) Have held further series conversations with contacts this situation and following is resume info obtained. 1. Political situation continues to worsen with probability that groups regular army will soon attempt coup or when and if cadets participating in Aug 2 and 3 uprising are sentenced by court martial...12. (REDACTION) and ZPSEMANTIC advised that following individuals are ready to resign from govt in mass protest against Calligeris (Carlos Castillo Armas) political activities: Hector and Domingo Goicolea, Carlos Salazar, Carlos Sosa, Carlos Cifuentes, Gabriel Martinez del Rosal, Enrique Salazar Liquens, Mario Sandoval, Oscar Cobar, Adan Manrique Ríos, Manuel Orellana, Adan Serrano and Luis Coronada Lira..."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minister_of_Foreign_Affairs_(Guatemala)

Wikipedia website: Entry for Minister of Foreign Affairs (Guatemala): "...This is a list of foreign ministers of Guatemala from 1945 to the present day...1955-1956: Domingo Goicolea Villacorta..." - - - This photo on the ebay website apparently is of Guatemalan Foreign Minister, Domingo Goicolea, in 1955: https://www.ebay.com/itm/1955-Press-Photo-Guatemalan-foreign-minister-Domingo-Goicolea-welcomed-by-mayor-/353383113526 - - - This entry for Domingo Enrique Goicolea Villacorta on the geni.com website stated he was born on July 15, 1920, and died on September 14, 1977 (a brother called Hector is listed): "Immediate Family: Son of Enrique Goicolea y Sánchez and Clara Villacorta y Francés. Brother of Héctor Francisco Goicolea Villacorta; Clara Goicolea Villacorta de Conde and Luz Dolores Alcira Goicolea." https://www.geni.com/people/Domingo-Goicolea/6000000037013568786

Contributors:
Gavin McDonald

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