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Cryptonym: SMILAX

Definition:
SMILAX was the cryptonym for Colonel Enrique Parinello de Leon, Guatemalan Army Chief of Staff. A dispatch from Graham L. Page (probably Henry Hecksher) in April of 1954 stated that SMILAX was a target for exploitation.
Status:
Documented
Discussion:
A CIA report on PBSUCCESS mentioned that on 9 June, 1954, Colonel Parinello refused to resign, despite being given an opportunity to do so, after leading a group of army officers in a failed protest at one of Arbenz's policies. A cable on 10 June, 1954, stated that JMBLUG-7 was informed that SMILAX was asked to resign on 9 June, refused, and then was restricted to his residence on 10 June, after leading a failed protest by army officers. A dispatch on 11 June, 1954, stated that SMILAX's prestige had diminished due to recent developments. A cable on 26 June, 1954, mentioned that STANDEL (Jacobo Arbenz Guzman) was dealing directly with SMILAX to run the army. A CIA report on PBSUCCESS stated that on 26 June, 1954, Arbenz was in direct contact with Colonel Parinello. A cable from Graham Page on 30 May, 1954, stated that SWALLOW agreed that SMILAX was the only member of the high command who could be trusted, and offered his services to lay on a meeting during the week beginning 31 May. A memo from Page on 1 June, 1954, mentioned that SMILAX was one of a number of Guatemalan officers who hated Calligeris (Carlos Castillo Armas). A dispatch on the same day, again from Page, stated that SMILAX was among a group of officers in the Guatemalan Army high command, and thus in control of the armed forces. Others included SUMAC-2 (Lieutenant Colonel Jose Angel Sanchez Barillas), STANDEL-1 (Colonel Carlos Enrique Diaz), and STANDEL-2. According to the dispatch "those American officials who have had dealings with him are holding him in universally high esteem." SWALLOW was also said to be a close personal friend of SMILAX, and would be knowledgeable of Page's talks with SMILAX. A cable on 28 June, 1954, stated that JMBLUG (John S Peurifoy) was invited early in the afternoon of 27 June to a meeting with the general staff. Present were STANDEL-1, SMILAX, SUMAC-2, STANDEL-3, and Colonel Carlos Sarti. The army officers agreed that STANDEL-1 would be the next president of Guatemala.
Sources:

https://www.cia.gov/readingroom/docs/DOC_0000923787.pdf

04/20/54: Air dispatch from COS, Guatemala to LINCOLN: Subject: General - Operational: Specific - K Program Progress: FROM PAGE: "1. I arrived in Guatemala on 16 April at 14:30 and immediately registered at the Pan American Hotel under an assumed name. It appears worth noting that neither the PAA in Miami who issued my tourist card, nor the immigration officials in Guatemala City requested me to produce documentary evidence of U.S. citizenship, nor did they check my immunization record. 2. I had a first meeting with Bannister on 17 April in which we ranged over matters of common operational interest. A system of meetings afforded maximum security has been laid on and all business is being transacted on the premises of Bannister's private residence. This, however, is a temporary arrangement, pending rental of operational quarters both in Guatemala City and at Lake Amatitlan...11...Such briefing will furthermore assist us in determining what lines to pursue in the actual exploitation of (REDACTION) and SMILEX...13...If we are successful in enlisting the full cooperation of (REDACTION) and SMILEX, we may of course be able to do this 'priming' job a great deal more effectively than anticipated...19. It may interest Cadick (William Robertson) that Bannister considers it possible to make an attempt at defecting Air Force pilots with their planes...Graham L. Page."

Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952-1954: Guatemala: Current Section: 156. 5/20/54-Telegram From the CIA Station in Guatemala to Operation PBSUCCESS Headquarters in Florida

05/20/54: Telegram from Guatemala Station to Operation PBSUCCESS Headquarters in Florida: "605. Re: DIR 01050. (2) 1. Available sources tending indicate many WSBURNT (Guatemala) army officers, though as soldiers glad receive arms, have grave misgivings about recent shipment. Among reasons for misgivings are: A. Has dramatically demonstrated closeness of govt to Soviet. B. Fear that present mission will be replaced by hordes of Soviet or satellite instructors who might do anything including displacing even the WSBURNT officers. C. That shipment is shocking evidence that Soviet and Commies intend completely take over WSBURNT. D. That ODYOKE (U.S. Government) cannot tolerate situation and will be forced take drastic action with terrible consequences to WSBURNT. 2. We will try exploit uneasiness by rumor, black propaganda, etc. 3. Indications are many officers would turn against govt if strong dramatic anti govt action starts. 4. (REDACTION) told ESQUIRE night 18 May that SMILAX now approachable. B–2. Sources para 1 and 3 ESPERANCE, ESPERANCE-1, ESPERANCE-3. Eval: B–3."

https://www.cia.gov/readingroom/docs/DOC_0000922990.pdf

05/30/54: Cable from Guatemala City to Director: Slugline RYBAT PBSUCCESS: K PROGRAM FROM PAGE: "1. Page met SWALLOW 30 May in presence ESQUIRE who interpreted. SWALLOW unquestioningly accepted Page bona fide. Most gracious cooperative and ostensibly discreet. 2. Page briefed SWALLOW on PBSUCCESS concept in broad outline, stressing that views not official, yet reflecting thinking on highest policy-making level PBPRIME (U.S.) 3. Current phase one of active PBPRIME support of indigenous, Calligeris-led endeavor overthrow WSBURNT (Guatemala) regime. However if people found incapable clean their stables, PBPRIME bound to step in sooner or later. 4. Key to current phase is army high command attitude in case of uprising. Page anxious convey to army high command PBPRIME resolve liquidate WSBURNT regime by all means short of outright intervention. Would like talk to SMILAX. 5. SWALLOW agreed SMILAX only member high command who can be trusted. Immediately proffered services lay on meeting during week beginning 31 May..."

Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952-1954: Guatemala Current Section: 165. 6/1/54-Memorandum by Graham L. Page

06/01/54: Memorandum by Graham L. Page: Subject: K-Program: "1. Your letter, dated 30 May 1954, (2) prompts me to line up once more my premises and conclusions. If you should detect any inconsistencies put that down to a situation in flux. 2. The recruitment of (REDACTION) was effected under PBSUCCESS auspices. He has become reconciled to Calligeris’ (Carlos Castillo Armas) role, but there are no indications of subservience. (3) Nor has he waived his stipulation that Calligeris be kept uninformed. (REDACTION) realizes that the underlying concept of PBSUCCESS is a workable one and that—at least at the time of his recruitment—there existed no workable alternative. 3. (REDACTION)’s sole asset is a personal following among ranking Army officers. He is our channel to Colonel (REDACTION), an officer who—according to (REDACTION)—is fully committed to our cause. He is working on SMILAX. He is turning over in his mind ways and means of defecting Colonel (REDACTION). Regarding the latter he has provided us with a frame of reference that makes sense to me. 4. I have increasing doubts whether additional recruitments can be effected under PBSUCCESS auspices. I know for certain that in the cases of SMILAX, Colonel (REDACTION), and Colonel (REDACTION), the involvement of Calligeris is likely to stiffen their resolve to protect the regime at all cost. They detest Calligeris and his enterprise to them holds connotations of a 'foreign invasion', calling forth a strictly emotional reaction (see SMILAX broadcast)..."

https://www.cia.gov/readingroom/docs/DOC_0000922848.pdf

06/01/54: Courier dispatch from COS, Guatemala, Withheld, LINCOLN: Subject: General - K-Program: Specific - Meeting with SWALLOW: ..."5. A group of private Americans, referred to as the consejo, in league with Calligeris (REDACTION) had formed a junta and was directing moves designed to unsaddle Arbenz and his associates. The underlying concept of its blueprint for action was to stage a civilian uprising inside of Guatemala. Success and failure of this enterprise would hinge essentially upon the attitude of the Army in such an event. This in turn would largely be determined by a small group of officers in the Army High Command, in effective control of the armed forces, viz SUMAC-2 (Lieutenant Colonel Jose Angel Sanchez Barillas), STANDEL-1 (Colonel Carlos Enrique Diaz), SMILAX, and STANDEL-2...Applying those standards, the consejo had come to the conclusion that the only member of the aforementioned group, meriting trust, was SMILAX. Our request to SWALLOW was therefore to lay on a meeting between Page and SMILAX 'on neutral ground'...8. Regarding SMILAX, Page mentioned that those American officials who have had dealings with him are holding him in universally high esteem...SWALLOW expressed the conviction that SMILAX who was a close personal friend of his would give his consent to attend the meeting...14...SWALLOW is no neophyte in conspiratorial matters and is bound to realize that his patronage over a meeting between Page and SMILAX should it leak out, would undoubtedly lead to (REDACTION). SWALLOW is going to be privy to Page's talks with SMILAX, an unavoidable contingency under the circumstances. Inasmuch as the first meeting will mainly serve the purpose of indoctrinating SMILAX, it is unlikely that operational matters of a sensitive nature will turn up. 15. My plans regarding SMILAX will be submitted to you by separate despatch...Graham L. Page."

https://www.cia.gov/readingroom/docs/DOC_0000928348.pdf

Report on Project PBSUCCESS: Page 101: Mention of Colonel Enrique Parrinello de Leon, Army Chief of Staff. - - - Page 192: ..."A second Army incident with Arbenz apparently occurred on 9 June 1954, which may have been a subject of the above-mentioned meeting of the Council of National Defense. The Chief of Staff, Colonel Parinello de Leon, was reported by an Embassy source as having headed a group of Army officers who opposed Arbenz's proposed plan to arm peasants and workers to fight the anti-Communists. This action was disapproved and Parinello was given the opportunity to resign, which he declined. The meeting, however, served to reveal a break in the Army with Arbenz. (REDACTION) had mentioned in his report of the meeting on 9 June that Parinello's position had weakened with Arbenz..."

https://www.cia.gov/readingroom/docs/DOC_0000922504.pdf

06/10/54: Cable from Guatemala to Director: Slugline RYBAT PBSUCCESS: "(REDACTION) travel agent, (REDACTION), advisor to Chinese Consulate informed JMBLUG-7 SMILAX asked to resign 9 June, refused, restricted to residence 10 June. Action followed meeting army officers and Arbenz where group headed by SMILAX opposed Arbenz approved plan to arm campesinos and workers. Meeting split army and conflict opposing groups momentarily. Eval: Rumor, possibly true." - - - 06/11/54: Courier dispatch from COS, Guatemala, Withheld to LINCOLN: Subject: General - K-Program: Specific - (REDACTION): "Attached hereto is a report prepared by Graham L. Page. (REDACTION). Cyrus E. Burnette." - - - Page 2: ..."8. SMILAX's prestige has fallen as a result of recent developments. Colonel Ruben Morales Dardon talkes about him as 'a s-t.' Up till recently he had considered him quite a man. 'He has that Prussian look', is serious minded and has a great deal of personal charm, but now I realize that he is just another nonentity.' SMILAX is giving (REDACTION) wide berth, even avoiding meeting up with him in church..." https://www.cia.gov/readingroom/docs/DOC_0000922499.pdf

https://www.cia.gov/readingroom/docs/DOC_0000920929.pdf

06/26/54: Cable from Guatemala to Director: Slugline RYBAT PBSUCCESS: "1. Matamoros bombing had instant effect. City panicked, people ran for cover stores closed. Matamoros area heavily guarded by armed troops, so inspection of damage impossible. 2. SUMAC-4 told ESPARTO night 24 June that STANDEL-1 (Colonel Carlos Enrique Diaz) in jail, SUMAC-2 (Lieutenant Colonel Jose Angel Sanchez Barillas) drinking so heavily he needed medical care. STANDEL (Jacobo Arbenz Guzman) dealing directly with SMILAX to run army. SUMAC-4 said govt cause lost but had no idea who would take over or how. 3. After bombing rumor strong that army will move tonight. 4. Unidentified lieutenant deserted from Hank (Zacapa - Guatemalan base) told NTPLUME charge Calligeris (Carlos Castillo Armas) ground and air power terrifying. WSBURNT (Guatemala) soldiers who would like to desert do not for fear being shot as they try. 5. Psych peak being reached again. SHERWOOD (Note: CIA radio broadcasting program based in Nicaragua begun on May 1, 1954) allegedly promised new bombing tonight. If true, please hit national palace and finish the job. 6. Scattered firing in city right now. 7. Just RCVD: Name of Lt para 4 is (REDACTION)."

https://www.cia.gov/readingroom/docs/DOC_0000928348.pdf

Report on Project PBSUCCESS: Pages 223-224: "26 June 1954...K-Program: Station Guatemala reported that the bombing of Matamoros had an instant effect. The people panicked and all stores closed. Arbenz was in direct contact with Colonel Parinello and it was reported that the government cause was lost but no one knew who would take over or how..."

https://www.cia.gov/readingroom/docs/DOC_0000921006.pdf

06/28/54: Cable from Guatemala to Director: Slugline PBSUCCESS RYBAT INTEL: RE: GUAT 983 (IN 22786): "1. JMBLUG (John S Peurifoy) invited early afternoon 27 June to meeting with general staff. Present were STANDEL-1 (Colonel Carlos Enrique Diaz), SMILAX, SUMAC-2 (Lieutenant Colonel Jose Angel Sanchez Barillas), STANDEL-3, and Colonel Carlos Sarti. They stated they had agreed STANDEL-1 would be next president and wanted following: A. JMBLUG to agree arrange cease fire so they could bring back troops now engaged in battle to maintain order. B. Calligeris (Carlos Castillo Armas) to be left out in cold since he not acceptable to them. 2. Stated they would so advise STANDEL though had not decided who would do so nor whether he would agree. Finally stated STANDEL-1 would present this idea and if he did not appear after present (RCVD PRULENT) time, SUMAC-2 would bring up artillery. 3. JMBLUG stated he could not guarantee any thing since he did not control Calligeris forces. 4. STANDEL-1 stated only 500 regular army and 2500 badly trained 'reservists' guarding capital. Suspect by reservists he meant miltia which now being armed. 5. ODYOKE (U.S. Government) officials present at this meeting were JMBLUG, JMBLUG-1, and the ODIBEX (U.S. Army) and ODUNIT (U.S. Air Force) attaches. 6. Another meeting taking place now. 7. Above info obtained from telegram being prepared by ODACID (U.S. State Department) personnel."

Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952-1954: Guatemala: Current Section: 251. 6/28/54-Telegram From Operation PBSUCCESS Headquarters in Florida to the CIA Station in Guatemala

06/28/54: Telegram from Operation PBSUCCESS Headquarters in Florida to Guatemala Station: "1. LINC recognizes possible conflict in your receiving orders from two places nevertheless believe action taken on ref A will not conflict too seriously with ref B. 2. Ref C was sent before receiving STANDEL–1’s (Colonel Carlos Enrique Diaz) speech which failed to mention his removal of Communists as reported in GUAT 986 (IN 22794). (5) Thinking here was based on your having a crack in the door to put foot in which could be exploited. Second thought is that SWALLOW should mediate but this not too good as he would have to follow Osorio who is not our man. 3. LINC believes (REDACTION) is better choice than SMILAX to replace STANDEL–1 as closer to being agreeable to recognition of Calligeris (Carlos Castillo Armas) which is important to our objectives. 4. On theory full advantage should be taken of first enemy weakness LINC has directed air strikes for Adam (Guatemala City) afternoon 28 June on TGW transmitter bldg, Matamoros and flak suppression. Anticipate this show of strength will provide substance to any consideration of Calligeris’s position."

https://www.cia.gov/readingroom/docs/DOC_0000921049.pdf

06/28/54: Cable from Director to Sr. Rep. Guatemala City (Orig: Withheld for Frank G. Wisner, Unit: DD/P): Subject: RYBAT/PBSUCCESS: "1. By means which cannot be traced to this govt, as through Clower (Joseph G. Sancho) to ESQUIRE to SWALLOW, get word to SMILAX that Diaz speech praising Arbenz and vowing continuation fight against Calligeris (Carlos Castillo Armas), has forfeited any possibility of his acceptance by anti-Communist world. If SMILAX wants to stop the bloodshed which will worsen quickly, he must arrest Communist leaders and reach some agreement with liberation army such as A. Setting up a military junta to take over govt, or B. Turning over govt to some president such Ascordova Cerna who would be acceptable to him and to Castillo Armas. In either event SMILAX would be identified as one of the heroes of the liberation. Authorize SMILAX to arrange payment to Diaz up to fifty thousand dollars after Diaz has stepped out and turned over military command to SMILAX. 2. SMILAX should be unequivocally advised that prerequisite to SMILAX opening of negotiations with Calligeris must be jailing of leading Communists. 3. For LINC: FYI LINC above policy arrived at by Ascham in consultation ODACID (U.S. State Department), including Holland. REF. was not passed WSBURNT (Guatemala)."

Contributors:
Gavin McDonald

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