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815.00 Revolutions/103: Telegram The Acting Secretary of State to the Minister in Honduras (Lay)

WASHINGTON, May 17, 1931–6 p. m. 42. Referring your telegram number 100 May 17 1 p. m. approved.


815.00 Revolutions/111: Telegram

The Minister in Honduras (Lay) to the Secretary of State

TEGUCIGALPA, May 19, 1931–8 p. m.

[Received May 2044:19 a. m.] 102. Rebels under Ferrera reported as well disciplined, number estimated between 700 and 1,000 with about half armed with rifles and balance with machetes and pistols with 5 machine guns and 150 to 200 mules moving rapidly from west to east. Arrived Progreso Sunday noon. Although Government believed Tela would be attacked by Monday and had there 500 troops, Ferrera's main body reported unofficially to be proceeding toward Yoro or in easterly direction. Government troops following. Marblehead at Tela Monday and returned Puerto Cortes this morning.

Majority of people behind the Government but are discouraged and fearful. Business at a standstill. Those with knowledge of Ferrera's tactics in former years say that unless the Government can decisively defeat him in the next 10 days he will be victorious. In spite of superiority in number of the Government forces and munitions, the mobility of Ferrera's forces and his ability to outwit them has enabled him to avoid risking a decisive engagement with his limited munitions but has enabled him to gather supplies, attract adherents, rout and harass Government troops occasionally. This strategy is weakening the Government. Government is much concerned by its lack of funds to pay its troops especially as Ferrera is reported to be paying his soldiers well and regularly and that Government troops are deserting to his ranks. Government is making strong effort to secure funds.


815.00 Revolutions/118: Telegram

The Minister in Honduras (Lay) to the Secretary of State

TEGUCIGALPA, May 20, 1931–11 a. m.

[Received 2:20 p. m.] 105. Department's 41, May 15, 6 p. m. The President of Honduras expressed much appreciation for Department's permission to publish statement in question. He requested Associated Press representative

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of the United Fruit Company, and the Foreign Minister did not so intimate. Small vessels engaged in "gun running” from Belize to Honduras or Nicaragua probably clear from that port under one name and flag and change both at sea. The Legation has suspected for some time that “gun running” vessels from Belize may have brought arms and munitions for Sandino to the Mosquitia delta district, unloaded them in small boats, and transported them in canoes up the Segovia or Coco River to Sandino forces. But without an efficient coast guard or a few hydroplanes it is futile to expect the Honduran Government to prevent arms and ammunition being smuggled into Honduras in the manner above indicated. About eight months ago the Naval Attaché at this Legation was informed by a reliable person at San Pedro Sula that Ferrera had in his possession 200 rifles in boxes marked "Ministerio de la Guerra, Mexico", which were probably smuggled from Mexico via Belize.

With regard to the use of a United States naval vessel to patrol the Bay of Fonseca in 1927 to prevent “gun running” into Honduras, Minister Summerlin raised the question in the following telegram to the Department;

“No. 18, March 29, 1927, 10 AM. In connection with the report that Ferrera has left Mexico City and is now in Chiapas President Paz suggested to me last evening that one of our naval vessels patrolling the Gulf of Fonseca might prevent gun running into Honduras".

In the Department's telegram No. 11 of April 1, 1927, 7 PM, to Minister Summerlin 8 in reply to the above, it seems to be indicated that the Department considered the use of naval vessels for patrolling Honduran waters under certain conditions in case "gun running" into Honduras was attempted, but in Minister Summerlin's telegram No. 19 to the Department of April 4, 1927, 12 Noon, he states that reports [are?] that the Nicaraguan revolutionists are not using the waters and territory of Honduras and therefore the vigilance originally suggested apparently is not necessary. These three telegrams are the cnly reference to this question to be found in the files of this Legation. There is no record of conversations on the subject that may have taken place between the President of Honduras and Minister Summerlin. From these telegrams however, it is possible that the Department had in mind at the time the use of one of our naval vessels to assist in preventing arms and ammunition being smuggled through Honduran ports on the Bay of Fonseca for Sandino. Respectfully yours,


*Not printed.

815.248/20 : Telegram

The Minister in Honduras (Lay) to the Secretary of State

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TEGUCIGALPA, June 3, 1931- 3 p. m.

[Received June 42:55 a. m.] 113. Reference Department's telegram No. 26, April 20, 6 p. m.,

American citizen owner and pilot of a Wilson three-place monoplane, United States license number . has landed here and made yesterday a contract with the Honduran Government for services of self and plane in military operations for 15 flying days. Provisions in contract include bombing operations. ... is a decent appearing young man who is regularly engaged in the barnstorming flying business and undertook the present rather hazardous job because of the need of funds. He made his first reconnaissance flight this morning over the country in which Ferrera operating.

Although the Honduran Government as the result of conversations regarding use of United Fruit Company planes for military operations was fully cognizant of Department's disapproval of American pilots engaging in military operations, it rushed ... into [apparent omission] very secretly and without consulting with the Legation nor did [he] . consult Legation until after signing contract.


815.00 Revolutions/163: Telegram

The Minister in Honduras (Lay) to the Secretary of State

TEGUCIGALPA, June 4, 1931–2 p. m.

[Received June 5–2:05 p. m.] 114. No important engagements between Government and rebel forces for 10 days. Government demobilizing about 2,000 men. President informs me Ferrera yesterday at Dulce Nombre with about 300 poorly armed men and possibly heading for Nicaraguan border pursued by Government forces. Other authorities opine Ferrera will join Sandino. This opinion prompted by a desire to have American Government declare Ferrera an outlaw like Sandino whereas Ferrera has respected noncombatants. Many persons would not be averse to Ferrera's gaining control of the Government because of their belief in his integrity and ability to govern. I deem it unlikely that Ferrera would jeopardize this general good repute by joining forces with a common bandit.

Greatly reduced income, inability to meet pressing obligations and obtain funds, acute business depression seriously embarrassing Govern

Post, p. 590.

ment which may eventually collapse. United Fruit Company has discontinued operations Cuyamel district further increasing unemployment.

Repeated to Legations, Salvador, Guatemala and Managua, for Comsperon.


815.248/25 : Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Minister in Honduras (Lay)

WASHINGTON, June 5, 1931—2 p. m. 48. Legation's 113, June 3, 3 p. m.

1. Please endeavor to ascertain and report by telegraph through what agency ... was approached in the United States; what arrangements if any were made here with respect to his enlistment and military service in Honduras; and from what point did he depart with his airplane from the territory of the United States.

2. Your attention is invited to Section 5282 of the Revised Statutes, the substance of which you may, unless you deem it inadvisable, communicate to ... You may likewise say to him that the obvious intent of the neutrality laws of the United States is to discountenance the enlistment of American citizens in foreign armed forces.

3. [Paraphrase.] You may orally inform the President of the substance of paragraph 2 of this telegram and add that the Government of the United States would much prefer that no citizen of the United States should be employed on active military service in Honduras. You may tell him that in addition to the objections to such action as they may concern the relations of a citizen of the United States to his Government is the further objection of the possibility of serious injury to unoffending civilians and to foreign as well as Honduran property which might result from aerial bombardment by an untrained civilian aviator. [End paraphrase.]


815.00 Revolutions/165 : Telegram

The Minister in Honduras (Lay) to the Secretary of State

TEGUCIGALPA, June 5, 1931–4 p. m.

[Received 9:10 p. m.] 115. Information just received from United Fruit Company agent Castillo that Ferrera reported advancing northerly direction toward point on railway 50 miles southeast of Puerto Castillo. Company concentrating railroad rolling stock Castillo. Above repeated to Salvador, Guatemala and Managua for Comsperon.

Company has been obliged to deliver at Castillo gasoline and oil for plane mentioned in my telegram 113, June 3, 3 p. m., under orders from the President. I am flying tomorrow to Castillo thence if situation favorable in U. S. S. Richmond to Ceiba and Tela returning here probably June 12.


815.248/27 : Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Minister in Honduras (Lay)

WASHINGTON, June 6, 1931—6 p. m. 49. Legation's 115, June 5, 4 p. m. The Department has been advised by the United Fruit Company that much uneasiness is felt by the Company's authorities and employees at Puerto Castilla over the basing of ... bombing plane in that district.

If you consider it advisable to do so you may repeat to President Mejia Colindres the objection of this Government to the employment of American aviators for military activities involving bombing operations and say to him that it is expected that adequate precautions will be taken to prevent injury to American lives and property. If you have the opportunity to do so while in Puerto Castilla you should warn ... himself against indiscriminate bombing where such action might imperil noncombatant lives and foreign property.



815.248/29 : Telegram
The Minister in Honduras (Lay) to the Secretary of State

TEGUCIGALPA, June 10, 1931–4 p. m.

[Received June 11–10 a. m. 122. Department's telegram No. 49, June 6, 6 p. m., and Legation's 120, June 8,5 p. m.10 Some aerial bombs of type dropped on Tegucigalpa in 1924 of English manufacture and weighing about 7 pounds each have been found in Ministry of War ... was instructed today that tomorrow he would load these bombs and fly over Ferrera forces on which bombs would be dropped by Honduran engineer as his passenger . . . at once informed the Legation. It thereupon appeared opportune and advisable to communicate verbally to the President of Honduras the Department's objection to the employment of Amezican aviators in aerial bombing. The personal opinion was als ca. pressed to the President of the futility of attempting to bee a small body of enemy troops in a country where the concealmers ges

10 Latter not printed.

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