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Whereas, the President has left the territory of the Republic without leave of the legislative power and without there being any war, thus violating article 92 of the constitution, therefore in accordance with article 81 of the constitution I now assume the Presidency of the Republic and appoint as Minister of War Colonel Joaquín Valdes; Under-Secretary of War Colonel José A. Menendez; Minister of the Interior General Salvador Castaneda Castro; Under-Secretary of Foreign Affairs in charge Doctor Arturo Ramon Avila; Under-Secretary of Finance et cetera in charge Engineer Pedro Salvador Fonseca; Under-Secretary of Public Instruction Doctor Benjamin Orozco. All other appointments remain unchanged for the present. This was signed last night in the artillery barracks. My callers stated that the Military Directorate by its own vote goes out of existence upon the publication of this decree which takes place today.
816.00 Revolutions/221 : Telegram
The Secretary of State to the Minister in El Salvador (Curtis)
WASHINGTON, December 5, 1931-1 p. m. 60. It appears from your telegrams that the revolution was organized and carried out by younger army officers. You also mention, however, that General Martínez, who is presumably identical with Vice President Martínez, is assisting actively in the movement.
Please report fully by telegraph as to part played in the revolution by the Vice President and by the three designados and whether any of the latter are still in San Salvador, or whether they accompanied President Araujo to Santa Ana.
816.00 Revolutions/22: Telegram
The Secretary of State to the Minister in El Salvador (Curtis)
WASHINGTON, December 5, 1931—2 p. m. 61. Press reports indicate that Salvadoran Congress may be called in session at once “to ratify the new military government” and that elections will be called within 48 hours. It is obviously highly desirable that no precipitate action be taken tending to throw the cloak of congressional approval over a government which the other Central American governments and the United States might possibly find themselves unable to recognize under the terms of the 1923 treaty. You should, if you believe such action imminent by the military leaders of the revolt, informally point this out and indicate the wisdom of proceeding with caution and after due study of the situation in the light of the Constitution and the 1923 treaty.
Please telegraph your views and recommendations as to the steps necessary to be taken in Salvador to bring about a government on a constitutional basis which could be recognized under the 1923 treaty. Do not discuss this question with the military leaders.
816.00 Revolutions/26 : Telegram The Minister in Guatemala (Whitehouse) to the Secretary of State
GUATEMALA, December 5, 1931–4 p. m.
[Received 8:11 p. m.] 67. As the Minister of Foreign Affairs told me Thursday it had been reported here that the United States was on the side of the revolutionists in Salvador I thought it not only polite but advisable to leave a card on President Araujo at noon today. The Minister of Salvador telephoned me later asking to see me so I went to his Legation and he introduced me to President Araujo.
The latter is naturally bitter against General Martínez whom he considers headed the movement against him; for the rest he talked generalities and said that he counted on the United States to secure justice not for him personally but for Salvador; that the whole affair is nothing but a military coup which will lead to anarchy and that he still has the people with him. He added that he had not resigned the Presidency but merely deposited his powers with Olano as the constitution gave him the right to do. He told me he had sent you a long cable but asked me also to report my conversation with him.
Repeated to Salvador.
816.01/6: Telegram The Chargé in Costa Rica (Werlich) to the Secretary of State
San José, December 5, 1931—6 p. m.
[Received 9:25 p. m.] 56. Department's 40, December 4,5 p. m.,' received via Tegucigalpa 3:30 p. m. today. Minister for Foreign Affairs of Costa Rica informs me no recognition has been requested of Costa Rica by new Salvadoran authorities but President of Costa Rica has received and not answered telegram from Martínez informing him of assumption of power; also that Costa Rica will take no step in respect of recognition until request has been received. He refused to commit himself
See footnote 8, p. 173.
to me in respect of eventual Costa Rican attitude but stated his complete knowledge of stipulations 1923 treaty.
Antonio Alvarez Vidachengre, Salvadoran Minister to Costa Rica, has informed me that he has refused to communicate with new Salvadoran authorities. He states he has received assurances from Foreign Minister of Costa Rica that this country will not recognize new authorities.
The Minister in El Salvador (Curtis) to the Secretary of State No. 21
San SALVADOR, December 5, 1931.
[Received December 9.] SIR: Referring to my telegrams Nos. 97 to 104 of December 3 and 4,10 I have the honor to inform you that a revolution against the Government of President Araujo broke out in this city on the evening of December 2, and appears at this writing to have been successful.
Firing began at about 10:00 PM on the evening of December 2 and the President left his official residence, directly across the street from the barracks of one of the revolting regiments, almost as soon as the first shot was fired, leaving the city and establishing headquarters in the Government buildings of Santa Tecla, some 7 miles to the west of this city. Those armed forces in this city which had not joined the revolution in the beginning surrendered or adhered to the revolution in the course of the morning of December 3, but no move of any kind was made to attack the forces assembled by President Araujo in Santa Tecla until early in the evening of that day. By the time that the revolutionary forces reached Santa Tecla the President, with practically all of his men, had left that town for Santa Ana. At this place the troops proved loyal to the President to the extent that he was cordially received but on the morning of December 4, the Commanding officer and the President's friends appeared to have persuaded him that his position was hopeless and at about noon of that day he is reported to have left for the Guatemalan frontier.
CAUSES OF THE REVOLUTION
It is even now impossible to state with certainty what were the real reasons for the revolt or who were its real leaders.
An American tells me that he was informed by a young army officer that some ten days ago the army received 15 days pay out of more than 4 months pay which was due, but that the Government announced that it had been paid up to date, the result being that the life of all the officers was made miserable by their creditors and that a number of the younger officers of the artillery regiment at the fort of "El Zapote," the machine gun unit near that fort, and the first regiment of infantry with barracks across the street from the President's house, organized a revolution which was to break out at midnight of December 2 to 3. This story undoubtedly contains much truth although it is probably not the whole truth. President Araujo had become daily more unpopular with all classes, had shown great lack of capacity, and had neglected the first requisite for a President in such a country as El Salvador, that of seeing that the army was paid promptly. It is reported, none too reliably, that General Martínez, the Vice President and Minister of War, called upon the President on the evening of December 2 for the purpose of urging him to provide promptly all the pay due to the army; that the President was much angered by this and informed General Martínez that he was dismissed from his office as Minister of War and that the Sub-Secretary of War, General Menendez, was promoted to that Cabinet post. It hardly seems possible, however, that this could have had any real influence on the situation. The signal for the revolution was to have been certain shots fired by the different organizations concerned, but a few shots of unknown origin resulted in the revolutionary movement being begun at 10 o'clock.
** Telegrams Nos. 99, 103, and 104 not printed.
During the night of December 2 to 3 the machine gun unit moved in the Zapote fortress, blank shells were fired from the mountain guns of the fortress, machine guns sprayed certain streets within their reach, there was considerable rifle fire from the barracks of the Infantry regiment and men seem to have gone a short distance out from each of the two centers, but no attempt was made to seize the whole of the city.
Early in the morning of December 3, the members of the National Guard who were outside their barracks on patrol in the ordinary course of their duty joined the revolution; those in the barracks remained for some time loyal to the Constitutional Government. These and the police, who also remained loyal, controlled with rifle fire all movements within the immediate neighborhood of their headquarters. The result of all this was that there were some four different points from which firing radiated while no soldiers, police or guards were to be seen throughout the larger part of the city remote from those centers.
After several unsuccessful attempts made during the night to obtain reliable information by telephone, I made further attempts at dawn and finally succeeded in obtaining communication with the fortress of “El Zapote,” where I was informed that Captain Eugenio Palma was the leader of the revolution, and I informed him that I would come to see him at once. I was detained by a call from the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Doctor Arrieta-Rossi, but left the Legation at about 7.00 AM.
Upon arrival at the fort I found that there was no one leader but that the fort was controlled by a Directorate composed of some seven very young officers. I talked with these in the presence of some fifteen other officers, received contradictory answers from half a dozen officers speaking at once and only with much difficulty and after much delay succeeded in learning what were the demands of the revolutionists; all willingly, though not promptly, agreed to my request for an armistice to last until 11.00 AM in order to avoid unnecessary bloodshed. Here I met for a moment General Martínez, who had been made a prisoner the previous evening.
I now proceeded to the police headquarters where I found General Calderón and quickly obtained his assent to the armistice. After taking a messenger almost to the fort for the purpose of notifying them of the acceptance of the armistice, I drove to the barracks of the 1st Infantry which, I found, had no communication with the fort. In the barracks I found the control exercised by a group of officers entirely similar to that in the fort and had the same difficulty in making myself heard and in obtaining an answer; I found also that the infantry's demands were different from those of the artillery, but while I was there a delegation from the artillery arrived. It was now about 8.45 AM and I was promised that I would be given at 10.15 AM the terms of the revolutionists as agreed upon by the two bodies; no urging on my part could obtain a promise of an earlier answer but it was agreed that the truce should continue for two hours after the terms were brought to me.
I now learned also that the statement made to me in the fort that the Cavalry regiment was participating in the revolution was false, so I had to go to the camp of that organization in order to make sure that it also would agree to the armistice; the commanding officer assured me that his regiment was loyal to the President, but there was a marked lack of enthusiasm on his part and that of the several officers with him and I felt that the President could not expect any real assistance from this regiment.
Returning to the Legation, I received one caller after another and prepared my telegram No. 98.11
" December 3, 11 a. m., p. 169.