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to any person who is likely to be a Presidential candidate, but until the names of these candidates are known it appears useless to study this matter closely.


President Araujo showed great incompetence, becoming even more unpopular than he deserved to be, and was easily overthrown by a revolution organized by a group of youths of whom many had not yet reached their majority. The Revolutionary Government promises much but there is little reason to suppose that it will be appreciably better than the Government that is overthrown. The Army has once more shown that it is the final arbiter concerning any Salvadoran Government, and it easily expects to control the new Government which it is establishing. Even if there should be any material improvement, there will yet be a decided moral retrogression. Fortunately, though no reliable figures are obtainable, the loss of life appears to have been very small. Finally, a period of some length must probably elapse before the Central American States or our Government recognize a new Government in El Salvador, Respectfully yours,


816.00 Revolutions/23 : Telegram

The Minister in El Salvador (Curtis) to the Secretary of State


SAN SALVADOR, December 6, 1931–9 a. m.

[Received 8:30 p. m.] 108. Your 60, December 5, 1 p.-m. My statement that Vice President Martínez took an active part in the revolution was not, I believe, based on unreliable evidence. He must, however, have had some knowledge beforehand and have refrained from action. Wednesday night, December 2, he was arrested and detained in the artillery barracks but was the choice of this regiment for the Presidency. He was well treated and still remains in the barracks. He conversed much with the officers leading the revolution, but I have absolutely no real proof that he advised them. I have been reliably informed that he gave orders Friday morning, December 4, before President Araujo had left the Republic, but when my informant was told that, President Araujo was in Guatemala. I cannot believe him to be innocent, but I have no real proof that he was involved.

The first designate is Salvador Lopez Rochak. He was chief of police. He is a brother-in-law of the President, whom he accompanied throughout these days. He is now in Guatemala.

The second designate, Emeterio Oscar Salazar, is rector of the University. He was chosen by the Military Directorate to be adviser to President Martínez, and he was there when I went to the artillery barracks on the morning of Thursday the 3d. He is now in San Salvador.

The third designate is Maximiliano Olano, President of the Legislative Assembly. He appears to have been, and to be now, out of the city, and to have taken no part whatsoever in the events of this week. According to every report, he has little strength, prominence, or popularity, and could not be expected to maintain himself in office, if he should become President.


816.00 Revolutions/25 : Telegram

The Minister in El Salvador (Curtis) to the Secretary of State


SAN SALVADOR, December 6, 1931—10 a. m.

[Received 8:50 p. m.] 109. Your 61, December 5, 2 p. m. Yesterday afternoon Martínez informed me that only he as President could call an extra session of the Legislative Assembly; that he had not done so, and that the Assembly will not convene until February as usual, with new members elected about the middle of this month.22

The treaty of 1923 requires constitutional reorganization of El Salvador by the freely elected representatives of the people. If the elections must be subsequent to the revolution, members of the Legislative Assembly are to be elected in a few days, but they will be unable to meet constitutionally until the first of next February. If Presidential elections must be held, there is no way by which these can be held constitutionally before those for the term beginning March 1, 1935, since the Vice President has succeeded constitutionally for the Presidential term which expires on that date. (This is according to a very positive statement made to me yesterday morning by Arrieta Rossi.)

See summary of decree in my 106, December 5, noon. Apparently, constitutionally, valid Presidential elections could be held earlier, however, by a constitutional amendment; to accomplish this the Legislative Assembly would have to adopt the amendment in two successive years by a two-thirds vote of all its members, after which a Constitutional Assembly would have to meet and approve them. Such an amendment, it will be observed, could not go into effect until March 1933 at the earliest. Article 148 states that the article on the length of the Presidential term cannot be altered, but it seems to be generally agreed that a Constitutional Assembly is supreme and can disregard all existing constitutional provisions and even adopt an entirely new constitution.

2 In his No. 110, December 7, 2 p. m., the Minister in El Salvador telegraphed : "My telegram 109, December 6, 10 a. m. Please correct last words first paragraph to read about the middle of next month, that is January. The second sentence of the next paragraph should also be corrected accordingly." (816.00 Revolutions/29)

The exact meaning of the treaty is not clear to me, and I am not in possession of the text of the reservations which the Government of El Salvador is said to have made when ratifying the same, but I recommend that recognition be delayed because of certain indications that Martínez is as yet little more than a mask for the Military Directorate.


816.01/7 : Telegram

The Chargé in Honduras (Higgins) to the Secretary of State

TEGUCIGALPA, December 7, 1931—noon.

[Received December 7-10 a. m. (p. m.?)] 188. Legation's telegram No. 187, December 5, 11 a. m. Minister of Foreign Affairs has formally requested me that he be advised, as soon as the Department decides, whether it will recognize the Martínez regime in Salvador as he states the action of his Government will be in conformity with that of the United States.

He showed me a telegram from the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Martínez regime which considerably twisted the facts concerning recent events making it appear that Araujo has resigned voluntarily and that the transfer of Executive power had been effected properly and constitutionally and making a strong bid for Honduran recognition.


816.00 Revolutions/31 : Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Minister in El Salvador (Curtis)


WASHINGTON, December 7, 1931.-5 p. m. 63. Your telegram No. 109, December 6, 10 a. m. Reservations to treaty of 1923 by Salvador at time of ratification have no bearing on this matter. As the Department has previously informed you, this Government has adopted, in accordance with the principles of the treaty of 1923, the policy of nonrecognition of Central American Governments which come into power by revolution. Please inform the Department of the necessary steps which should be taken by Salvador for the formation of a constitutional government which can be accorded recognition by the United States, and by the other Central American Governments under the provisions of the treaty of 1923.

The question of the constitutionality of the present regime is not affected by the elections for the Legislative Assembly. In this connection the Department does not understand the significance of your statement that these elections will be held in a few days. The Department's understanding is that elections for the Legislative Assembly will be held the second Sunday in January. Please clear up this point.23

An examination of article 2 of the General Treaty of Peace and Amity of 1923 will make it clear that the treaty does not necessarily require that elections be held subsequent to the revolution.

What the Department now wants to know is the part the Vice President took in the revolution. You are requested to make careful inquiry into this essential point and advise the Department of your conclusions, giving your reasons therefor. This is a matter of importance and should have your very careful attention.

Under the constitution, the Vice President succeeds to the office of President in the President's absence; but if the Vice President was a leader in the coup d'état or revolution, under the terms of the treaty of 1923 he could not be recognized.

It is the understanding of the Department that the President did not resign, but left the country after his palace was bombarded. As the Department cannot decide upon a course of action until it has the necessary facts to go on, will you please furnish a detailed statement of the President's departure, including all the facts and actions connected therewith.

If the Vice President is implicated in the revolution and therefore cannot be recognized, what about the designates? It is indicated in your telegram No. 108 of December 6, 9 a. m., that the second designate may have been involved. Inquire into the facts regarding him also.

Was the revolution caused by popular feeling against President Araujo personally or against his administration? If the latter, was the Government actually badly administered, or was it the desire for power of certain of the military leaders?

If it appears that the Vice President was implicated, what obstacles are there, if any, in the way of the Government's being turned over to the First Designate?

23 See footnote 22, p. 186.

The Department is concerned for fear the situation may get out of control, and requests, in addition to the answers to the above inquiries, that you report in full the results of your efforts, in accordance with instructions in Department's 56, December 4, noon, to make the revolutionary leaders understand its policy in support of the 1923 treaty.


816.00 Revolutions/38
Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State (White)

[WASHINGTON,] December 7, 1931. The Salvadoran Minister called and showed me telegrams from the Provisional Government in El Salvador asking him to have recognition accorded it. The telegrams stated that President Araujo had resigned and that the Vice President had succeeded to the office in accordance with the Constitution. He also showed me telegrams from Guatemala from Señor Araujo saying that he had not resigned and that the revolutionary movement was really directed by Señor Martínez, who was both Vice President and Minister of War. .

The telegram from Señor Araujo referred to paragraph 4 of Article 68 of the Constitution saying that the attributes of the legislative body are to install in office the President and Vice President of the Republic, to administer to them the oath of office, and to take cognizance of their resignations and to accord them permission to leave the country. Señor Araujo therefore maintained that only the Congress could act on a resignation should he present one. The telegram from Salvador referred to paragraph 4 of Article 91 of the Constitution which states that the President is authorized to convoke extraordinary sessions of the legislative body as a Council of Ministers when the supreme interests of the nation demand it, and saying that the Vice President could do this if necessary.

I told the Minister that we were studying the situation most carefully in all its aspects and that I was not yet in a position to tell him what definite course we would take until we have further information regarding the happenings in San Salvador.


816.00 Revolutions/30 : Telegram

The Minister in El Salvador (Curtis) to the Secretary of State

SAN SALVADOR, December 7, 1931–6 p.m.

[Received 9:05 p. m.] 111. Everything quiet, conditions apparently becoming steadily more settled.

591381-46--VOL. II-20

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