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816.01/11 : Telegram The Chargé in Honduras (Higgins) to the Secretary of State

TEGUCIGALPA, December 8, 1931–11 a. m.

[Received 3:35 p. m.] 190. Reference first paragraph my telegram No. 188 of December 6 [7], noon, Minister of Foreign Affairs has twice again requested me to ascertain as soon as possible if Department will recognize present government in Salvador. He is impatient for early information as his Government's action will be in conformity with that of the United States and he is being strongly pressed to announce his Government's decision.


816.00 Revolutions/36 : Telegram

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


SAN SALVADOR, December 8, 1931–1 p. m.

[Received December 9—11 a. m.] 113. Your 63, December 7, 5 p. m. The following is a preliminary report. Every day I am assured that the Military Directorate will immediately dissolve. When this takes place I believe the new government will satisfy all the technicalities of the constitution.

The following facts might indicate that Vice President Martínez did participate in the revolution:

1. The revolutionists did not harm him.

2. During the revolution he was in the artillery barracks and still has his office there.

3. He did not fight against the revolutionists. 4. President Araujo had just dismissed him as Minister of War.

The following information indicates that he did not take part in the revolution:

1. He was confined to the barracks. 2. At 7 a. m. Thursday he was unable to talk privately with me.

3. The leaders of the revolt did not consult him on such important questions as to whether or not there would be an armistice, the duration of the same, or the conditions to be laid down.

4. The leaders of the revolt in the infantry barracks did not want him for President at 8:30 a. m.

5. During the three interviews which I had with the leaders on December 3 he was not present and was not referred to in any way as having a voice in decisions.

6. He was not a member of the Military Directorate.

7. Until almost the last moment he was Minister of War. He would have a high sense of duty and may well have been kept in ignorance of the plot.

All of the above numbered statements except the last are facts verified by my personal observation.

President Araujo was in the Presidential Mansion when, shortly after 10 p. m. of December 2, shots were fired at the Mansion from the infantry barracks across the street. After spending 2 or 3 hours in various places in San Salvador he drove 7 miles to Santa Tecla. I conferred with him there at noon December 3 regarding an armistice and told him the conditions of the revolutionists. These he declined. The principal one was his resignation as President. At 3 p. m. that same day he departed for Santa Ana, about 35 miles distant, accompanied by 200 armed men, where he arrived safely and was received loyally. About 11:30 [a. m.?] on December 4, he left for Guatemala and crossed the frontier at about 1:30 p. m. President Araujo left behind a document depositing the office of President with Third Designate Olano.

The immediate cause of the revolt was the failure for some months to pay the Army, but strong criticism of President Araujo and his immediate entourage had been common for some time. Bankers and others whom he had called in for advice on financial matters had become disgusted with the management of the Government finances. Yesterday the managers of the three local banks emphatically stated to me that if Araujo had remained in office 3 months longer there would have been currency inflation and consequent destruction of Salvadoran credit at home and abroad. His failure to carry out any of his pre-election promises and his lavish personal expenses caused the common people to become severely critical and impatient. It was with difficulty that Government salary certificates could be cashed ...

Salazar, the Second Designate, was in the artillery barracks when I was there the morning of December 3, on which day he accepted the appointment of civilian adviser to the revolutionary government.

The obstacles to turning the Government over to the First Designate, Salvador Lopez are (1) his absence in Guatemala and (2) as a brother-in-law of President Araujo he would be absolutely unacceptable to the country at the present time.

What effect the recognition of the government of General Martínez would have on future revolutions in El Salvador or other Central American countries I do not know. However, I believe that the great majority of the people of El Salvador want him as President at the present moment. Only after he had been informed that President Araujo had left the country did he assume authority, and it will probably be impossible to obtain any proof that he participated in the revolution, although I shall continue to investigate this. Unless the Minister of War is “a high military command” or a "Secretary of State”, his government can probably be recognized under the treaty of 1923.

My efforts to make clear to the leaders of the revolution the policy of the Government of the United States in support of the treaty of 1923 have resulted in repeated statements that the Directorate will be dissolved immediately. But until its dissolution has been clearly shown to be a fact, I strongly recommend that recognition be not granted.


Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State (White)

[WASHINGTON,] December 8, 1931. Mr. Jules Henry, Counselor of the French Embassy, called to ask whether we have recognized the present Government in El Salvador. I told him that we have not; that we are still awaiting further information regarding the situation down there, especially the part, if any, played by the Vice President, Mr. Martínez, in the revolution, in order to know whether or not he is debarred from recognition by the provisions of the Treaty of 1923. Mr. Henry said that the French Government of course would like to follow our lead and asked if I would let him know when we had determined upon our course of action. I told him I should be glad to do so.


816.01/11 : Telegram The Secretary of State to the Minister in Guatemala (Whitehouse)

WASHINGTON, December 8, 1931–6 p. m. 35. For your information and discreet use.

The Department is giving the most careful consideration to all aspects of the situation in connection with the recent revolution in Salvador, but is not yet in a position to determine its course of action in relation to the present regime until the receipt of further reports which it is now awaiting from Salvador.

As soon as the Department has reached a decision it will instruct you to communicate with the government of the country to which you are accredited, since the Department desires to act in harmony in this matter with the signatories of the Treaty of Peace and Amity of 1923. Repeated to Managua [as No.] 214 and San José [as No.] 41.


816.01/11: Telegram The Secretary of State to the Chargé in Honduras (Higgins)

WASHINGTON, December 8, 1931–6 p. m. 90. Your 188, December 7, noon, first paragraph, and 190, December 8, 11 a. m. You may assure the Minister for Foreign Affairs that as soon as the Department is in a position to determine the course it will follow it will communicate with the Honduran Government and with the other Central American Governments concerning the matter. The Department is giving the most careful consideration to all aspects of the situation but cannot determine its course of action until the receipt of further reports which it is now awaiting from Salvador.


816.01/13: Telegram The Chargé in Honduras (Higgins) to the Secretary of State

TEGUCIGALPA, December 9, 1931-1 p. m.

[Received 4 p. m.] 191. Department’s telegram No. 90 of December 8, 6 p. m. On informing the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the sense of the Department's telegram he readily expressed his willingness to await the Department's decision and reiterated that his Government's decision would conform with the Department's. He stated, however, that he could not see how the Department could recognize the present regime as he was positive from the information he had received that Martínez had been in the conspiracy for the coup d'état and had betrayed his chief, Araujo. I believe that the majority of officials here, as well as political leaders of both parties, think and feel as he does in this matter.


816.00 Revoluti 9: Telegram

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


SAN SALVADOR, December 11, 1931—2 p. m.

[Received December 12—2:16 a. m.] 115. My 113, December 8, 1 p. m. The only additional information of any value I have been able to obtain is the following:

Arrieta Rossi told me that on the night of December 2 General Martínez was fired upon as he approached the artillery barracks and was held in close custody throughout that night. Of course, this comes from a source strongly prejudiced in favor of Martínez. An observer said ... that it was the original intention of the young organizers of the revolution to shoot General Martínez because he stood in their way as constitutional Vice President. I believe this informant to be wholly reliable and I consider the information to be of value because General Claramount certainly still has Presidential ambitions and cannot be suspected of any desire to strengthen the position of General Martínez. The same person also said that a young lawyer .. (if desired, I can obtain his name), stated that he had been consulted by a number of young officers who were friends of his and had advised them to follow constitutional forms by putting General Martínez into the Presidency as their puppet. I should add that before I left for the artillery barracks on the morning of December 3 I was told over the telephone from there that the revolutionists proposed to make José Maria Peralta Lagos President.

All other information obtained with regard to the participation of General Martínez has been of one of three kinds:

1. Absolutely favorable to General Martínez from his friends and adherents.

2. Absolutely unfavorable from the few friends of Señor Araujo.

3. Usually culpatory from persons who, when pressed, admitted that they had no real first-hand knowledge but only hearsay evidence. I believe that he is entitled to a verdict of not guilty of participation in the revolution.

El Salvador is entirely quiet. Practically all of the business and responsible elements exhibit satisfaction, and even pleasure, at the departure of Señor Araujo and confidence in the new government, although without exception all express anxiety for the dissolution of the Military Directorate. The number of dissatisfied in labor circles appears to be extremely small. The press, in order to alienate Araujo's remaining adherents, has made much of Araujo's alleged appeal to the Department of State to return him to the Presidency.


816.01/17a : Telegram

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


WASHINGTON, December 11, 1931–7 p. m. 67. As you have already been informed, the Department supports the treaty of 1923 concerning the nonrecognition of governments in Central America coming into power through a revolution.

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