File No. No. 763.72112Am1/54
The Chargé in Honduras ( Curtis) to the Secretary of State
[Received February 16, 3.26 p.m.]
Referring to my cable of February 14, 10 p.m.1 Minister for Foreign Affairs took me this morning to see the President who insisted that Department’s telegram of February 6, 7 p.m., permitted absolute freedom of traffic between Amapala and San Lorenzo. He declared also that he now forbade all transportation of freight between those places except by the National Agency, at least for the present but probably for the duration of the war. He said that this was a step taken because of the existence of martial law and was just what our Government had done as to the ships and railroads of the United States. I pointed out to him that in view of the orders of the United States Government this would cause the immediate closing of the port of Amapala to American vessels, to which he assented defiantly. He complained rather violently that our Government had consented to purchase of the German lightens by De Hart but that it would not permit their use by the Government after it had confiscate them. I attempted in vain to get him to delay his decision as reported above until that of the War Trade Board was known.
As to the Fairhaven the President said that according to title 22 of the customs code it could not obtain clearance until it had [discharged] all its cargo for this country, but that it would not be molested if it chose to leave without clearance, although it would be fined if it returned to a Honduran port.
U. S. S. Yorktown is warning all American vessels not to enter Honduran waters.
It is most important that you should cable me immediately any decision of the War Trade Board which is to be effected.
Unless it has already rendered a decision, I recommend urgently that the Government of the United States assume a very strong attitude.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs seemed greatly disappointed at the attitude of the President. I elicited from the President a direct denial of the statement reported in my February 14, 10 p.m.,1 that the Government paid for the lighters.