File No. No. 763.72112Aml/80
The Chargé in Honduras ( Curtis) to the Secretary of State
[Received May 2, 6.35 a.m.]
Your April 29, 6 p.m., was received at 4 p.m., and at 6 I saw the President, who refused to see any reason to discontinue operating the seized lighters notwithstanding the assurances reported in the Legation’s January 18, 12 p.m.,3 and January 27, 6  p.m.,4 he maintaining that the necessities of Honduranean commerce still required their operation in order to avoid a monopoly on the part of the Pacific Mail agency. I did not feel at liberty to disclose to him any part of the confidential portion of your cable, but in reply to his inquiry as to what objection the United States could have to those continuously operating I suggested that the lighters would have to be returned to the Germans after the war and that the business would go with them. He replied that the Government intended to prevent this by buying the lighters or others at that time and [Page 394]to continue in the business, so I suggested that it could probably buy those of the Pacific Mail now; he said that for various reasons the Government could not do this now, but that he would try to persuade some of the merchants to do so; however, he would like to know what he was to do with the seized lighters, and when I said to lay them up, he declared that the Germans would immediately complain, and that he had already received a telegram from the Spanish Minister in Guatemala transmitting a message from the German Government to the effect that Honduras would be held strictly accountable for its acts regarding the lighters, to which he had replied by a mere acknowledgment.
The President has shown considerable interest recently in the success of the National Agency and I feel sure that our placing it on the enemy trading list will result in his forbidding the operation of any but its lighters and the consequent total closure of the port of Amapala. If these results can be avoided at all it seems to me that an attempt should be made to arrange for the purchase by the Honduranean Government of the lighters of the Pacific Mail agency; however, the owners may not be willing to sell and the Government has no money except what it has borrowed, which it does not wish to touch.
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