No. 64.
Mr. Hall to Mr. Bayard.

No. 586.]

Sir: * * * I have the honor to inclose herewith an article, with a translation, recently published in the newspaper La Nacion, of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, entitled the “Projects of Soto, Zaldivar, and Barrundia.”

The writer of the article, who is well known in Central America, asserts that he has information that the persons referred to still persist in their purpose to subvert the present Governments of Honduras, Salvador, and Guatemala.

In the note of Señor Batres, accompanying my dispatch No. 524, Ex-President Zaldivar was reported to be in Mexico, Ex-President Soto [Page 77] was in Costa Rica, where Zaldivar joined him later, and subsequently the two went, to Nicaragua, where, at last accounts, it is said, Zaldivar remains and Soto has returned to New York. There is reason to believe that Ex-Minister Barrundia has not been in Central America since his departure in April, 1885.

With reference to these revolutionary projects the writer of the article says that although there is peace in Central America, there is neither tranquillity nor confidence as to the future, and that this state of uncertainty is due solely to the projects of the persons before named to recover their lost power. He is confident, however, that their plans will fail, as did the Delgado expedition in Honduras, which was the first part of the programme of their operations.

I am, etc.,

Henry C. Hall.
[Inclosure in No. 588.—Translation from La Nacion of Tegucigalpa, Honduras.]

Dark Clouds.—The projects of Soto, Zaldivar, and Barrundia in the light of history.

At this moment Central America is at peace; there are no battles, no hostilities; there are no armies on the frontiers of the five Republics; there are no enlistments; the arsenals are idle, and there are no orders for arms.

If this is peace, then Central America is at peace, and is progressing tranquilly by constitutional paths.

But if peace means the tranquillity and confidence of every one that the present state of things will not be altered, and that every one can dedicate himself, without apprehension, to his special enterprises, then Central America is not at peace.

As a romancer would say, dark clouds obscure the horizon; the atmosphere is heavy; the lightnings flash at short intervals; thunder is heard; the fresh breeze, forerunner of the storm, stirs the leaves of the trees and plays upon our cheeks; soon the lightning will strike and the rain will come down in torrents. In such metaphorical language a Gongorian romancer, impressed with the political situation in Central America, might express himself; but I, who make no use of metaphors, and often sacrifice grace for the sake of perspicuity and truthfulness, must express myself in another way and call things by their right names.

In Central America elements are at work to produce discord, a general convulsion from which the promoters expect to reap great advantages. According to the information in my possession, the promoters of this projected revolution are Marco Aurelio Soto, Rafael Zaldivar, and Martin Barrundia. The two first named are ex-Presidents of Honduras and Salvador, and the latter, ex-minister of war of Guatemala in the time of General Rufino Barrios. It is asserted that these three individuals are closely leagued together and are making efforts in common accord, to scale the heights of supreme power in Honduras, Salvador, and Guatemala.

It seems impossible that these three should be leagued together; when they were in power, deep hatreds, jealousies, and rivalries existed among them, notwithstanding a common misfortune (for such it is for them to be deprived of power) has brought them together, and has made them combine their personal efforts and material resources in a common cause to carry out the beautiful plans they have plotted and caressed in the imaginations of their demented brains. I speak in this way because I can not conceive how men of intelligence, of common sense, can have the effrontery to set up such pretensions.

It is not my intention to do injustice to either of them, nor do I propose to excite the odium of these people against them, as is to be expected from those whose interests it is to oppose them. I have no interest in these western Republics (Honduras, Salvador, and Guatemala) and I am scarcely bound to the President of Honduras by the ties of friendship. Thus I am under no obligations to any of them; my opinion responds to no countersign; I expect nothing from those who are in power, and I fear nothing from those who aspire to it; I have given proofs also that the caciques of Central America inspire me with no apprehensions. Having made this declaration, I shall speak my convictions in regard to projects of the persons to whom I have referred.

Don Marco Aurelio Soto attained to the presidency of Honduras, as every one here and many abroad well know. I deem it needless to repeat that history. He was sustained in the presidency during seven years by the moral and material aid that General Barrios gave him, and during those seven years he did whatever his own royal pleasure dictated; he banished, imprisoned, flogged, shot, and he enriched himself by taking [Page 78] possession of the treasures of the country. Don Marco Aurelio Soto in Tegucigalpa was, like the Sultan in Constantinople, master of lives and estates. But a day came, a sad one for him, in which Barrios became aware of the treachery of his protégé; he made no mystery of his discovery; he knit his brow and scowled furiously at his pupil; the latter filled with consternation, like a frightened paltroon, conceived that Honduras was no longer a safe place for himself; from all sides he saw the apparitions of approaching armies; he fled secretly, and from a foreign land exchanged humiliating letters with Barrios; from there, also, he sent his resignation as President of the Republic, basing it upon declarations which to-day he denies having made.

With all impartiality it may be said of him that he did not attain to power by popular vote nor by his own valor; that ho was sustained in power by foreign forces, and in all that time reviled and robbed his people; that he abandoned his power through pure fright, and in attempting to recover it has made use of others, whom he has sent to death without doing a thing to save them. If one who has done all that can pretend to accomplish anything more than to organize fruitless expeditions (for he has not the courage to place himself at the head of any expedition in which there is personal danger), he will find no sane persons willing to take upon themselves the risks that Delgado assumed, to be like Delgado, abandoned to his fate; neither will he find, nor did Delgado find, any one to join him in his mad undertakings.

Dr. Zaldivar, with slight variations, is the counterpart of Soto. Zaldivar attained to power by lending himself to the humiliation of his country, which, bloodless and lifeless, lay at at the feet of the conqueror. The junta of notables, the scorn of a free people, gave him the presidency of Salvador; it belonged to him by no title whatever. The voice of patriotism was silenced, and the Salvadorians, notwithstanding their manhood, their valor, their undeniable democratic spirit, tolerated that inexplicable government during nine years.

And what was the government of Zaldivar during those nine years? It was a government of corruption, of plunder, of fraud—a real Byzantine government. The administration of Zaldivar left as its legacy seven millions of debt. If these are titles to the gratitude of the peoples, then Dr. Zaldivar has many titles to the estimation of his fellow citizens. No one will dispute the post with him; there is not nor can there ever be a Salvadorian who can do as much harm to his country as this man, who again aspires to its presidency, has done.

Martin Barrundia was minister of war in the time of General Barrios. I have no desire to disparage the memory of the dead, but those who knew Barrios can appreciate Barrundia by taking into consideration the fact that Barrios was in the practice of alarming his people by threatening to resign and to leave Barrundia in his place. What kind of a man must he have been whom President Rufino Barrios could make use of as a bugbear to frighten the citizens of that Republic? I need say nothing. Every Central American can give an answer.

To return to the subject, neither Soto, Zaldivar, nor Barrundia can lay any claim to the places to which they aspire. I have given but a sketch of each. I could write a history if they should desire it.

Notwithstanding that Messrs. Soto, Zaldivar, and Barrundia imagine that they possess influence, the fact is that they have none, nor is it possible that they should ever have any. Were it otherwise, I should say of the Central American peoples that they are lost; that they are destitute of all moral conscience, and that good or evil are the same to them.

But will it be sot I believe not. Providence has impenetrable secrets which He withholds from simple mortals. Perhaps those men may come to surrender themselves and to expiate their crimes. If it is not so, then there is reason to doubt Providence; but no, that would be blasphemy. Providence exists. Let Central American patriots have faith and wait.

Carlos Selva.