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British Property (Damage)

Volume 529: debated on Monday 5 July 1954

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6.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will make a further statement on the effect on British interests of the situation in Guatemala and on the report of the Fact-Finding Commission.

As the House has already been informed, a Shell Company installation outside Guatemala City was machine-gunned and damaged, and the British vessel "Springfjord" was bombed and burnt out at the port of San José. I have received no other reports of damage to British property in Guatemala.

As far as the Fact-Finding Committee is concerned, I believe that Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala have now withdrawn their charges, but this has not yet been confirmed. The Committee returned to Washington on 3rd July from Mexico City, and an announcement may be made tomorrow.

Apart from the fact that a British ship was sunk after being bombed, has the attention of the Minister been drawn to the statement in "The Times" today that had it not been for the fact that Colonel Armas had the services of a number of foreign aircraft the Government of Guatemala would have been able to deal with the situation very easily? Is it not essential, in view of this, that the public should know the identity of the aircraft, where they came from and where the bombs came from? In those circumstances, will the Government press for the Fact-Finding Committee to establish the facts?

Her Majesty's Government will certainly seek to find out what the facts were, but I quite agree with what the right hon. and learned Gentleman has said on the point. As far as the Committee and its movements are concerned, I think we must await its report.

Is my right hon. and learned Friend in agreement with me when I say that this was a typical Central American revolution, and, that being so, that the whole incident has been grossly exaggerated, largely, it is suspected, on account of anti-American prejudice?

I certainly think that hon. Members would be very wise not to draw a conclusion contrary to that of my hon. and gallant Friend without knowing the facts.

If it is merely a question of a Central American revolution of the musical-comedy type, will the right hon. and learned Gentleman deny that American planes and pilots bombed and machine-gunned Guatemala?