The Chargé in Honduras ( Belden ) to the Secretary of State

No. 656

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge receipt of the Department’s cablegram No. 30 of May 15, 4[5] pm, regarding the relations existing between the Republics of Honduras and El Salvador, and to make the following report.

The Department’s cablegram was received late on Sunday the 16th instant, the day I assumed charge of the Legation. On the following day I had a conference with the President of the Republic and the Minister for Foreign Affairs at a country house a short distance from the Capital, at which time I conveyed to the President the portent [purport?] of the Department’s instructions. The President expressed his appreciation of the offer of the United States Government to assist the Governments of Honduras and Salvador in solving in a peaceful manner any problems which may exist between the two countries. He protested, however, that his Government has only endeavored to show all possible good will towards that of Salvador in overcoming the difficulties which have presented themselves as an aftermath of the late revolution in Honduras and the recent uprising in Salvador headed by Dr. Arturo Araujo, and that everything possible [Page 735] had been done and would be done on his part to prevent the emigrates [sic] from Salvador who have escaped into Honduran territory from fomenting a revolutionary movement against the Government of Salvador. From what I can learn and in accord with the opinion of Mr. Lawton, recently in charge of this Legation, I am inclined to put faith in the expressions and sincerity of the President.

Since first seeing the President, official word has been received of the capture and detention of Dr. Araujo and a large number of his adherents at Santa Rosa de Copan. The captured persons are being held by this government, which is considering the expulsion of Dr. Araujo and the principal leaders. Last evening I received a telegram in Spanish from Dr. Araujo from Santa Rosa, as follows:

“I come to you as representative as you are of the great nation which has fought so much for the liberty of peoples that you may interpose your valuable influence for us who are fighting for the liberty of our fatherland to the end that we be permitted to leave Honduran territory en route to Guatemala and the United States which we believe to be our right and [as] free and honorable men.”

To the above telegram I have thought it best not to reply, simply limiting myself to showing it to the Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Last evening the Minister for Foreign Affairs called at the Legation to inform me that the President had received a telegram from the Honduran Minister at Salvador in which the latter expressed the opinion that, because of the exacting attitude of the Government of Salvador, the relations between Honduras and Salvador were still in a very uncertain, if not critical, state.

This afternoon, accompanied by Mr. Lawton, I called upon the President with reference to the capture of Dr. Araujo and the situation relative to Salvador. The President explained that the Government of Honduras would probably expulse [sic] Dr. Araujo and the principal leaders of the movement against Salvador from Honduran territory but that he felt that, should his Government do so, the Government of Salvador should reciprocate by expulsing [sic] from Salvador the leading Honduran emigrates [sic] actually in that country. There appears to be no doubt but that the President feels that the Government of Salvador has not and is not at the present time showing a spirit of good will in desiring to maintain friendly relations with Honduras.

On the 17th instant a short article appeared in El Cronista, a daily newspaper of this city, edited by Paulino Valladares, an openly avowed friend of the United States, a translation of which is enclosed,6 stating that Honduras may rest assured that its peace will not be disturbed either on the frontiers of Salvador or on those of [Page 736] Nicaragua, “for the friendly mediation of the Government of Washington, for sheer humane reasons as well as for the sake of pan-American advantage, will avoid the useless shedding of blood.”

In reply to this article the Minister from Salvador, Dr. E. Arrieta Rossi, to whom reference was made in Mr. Lawton’s despatch No. 651 of the 13th instant,7 addressed a letter to the editor of El Cronista, a translation of which accompanies this dispatch,7 in which appears a paragraph stating that “the friendly mediation of Washington has nothing to do with the matter” and that “this influence, or as it is referred to in El Cronista, ‘this friendly mediation’, ultimately would succeed in reestablishing peace, but somewhat tardily and when …8 the blood of our brothers already would have been unnecessarily spilled.” It is needless to say that the Minister’s letter has been most adversely criticized as a diplomatic blunder, containing, as it would appear to do, a “veiled threat” and a scarcely politic reference to the United States at a time when that Government is prepared to assist the Governments of Honduras and Salvador in overcoming any difficulties which may exist between them.

I further enclose translations of two editorials from El Cronista of the 18th and 19th instant,7 in reference to the above mentioned letter of the Minister from Salvador.

In my two conversations with the President he referred to the great expense to which his Government is being put in maintaining the necessary military forces on the frontiers of Salvador and Nicaragua. In my first conversation both the President and the Minister for Foreign Affairs expressed anxiety regarding the danger of trouble from Nicaragua.

The President showed pleasure when informed that the Department had instructed the Legation at Salvador to take proper steps to induce the Government of Salvador to withdraw the ultimatum which was substantially a demand that the President of Honduras insist upon the resignation of the Minister of War. He repeated with a show of force that the Government of Honduras could not and would not concede this demand unless the Government of Salvador presented full and compelling proofs of the complicity of the Minister of War in the Araujo movement.

The President has stated to me that, ever since assuming the duties of Chief Executive, he has been constantly harassed by the situation on the frontiers of Nicaragua and Salvador to such an extent that he has been hindered in and prevented from devoting his full attention to serious internal problems which he feels it his bounden duty to give. The President, as can be appreciated, is in a most [Page 737] difficult position and the period of reconstruction needs his entire devotion and study. I cannot but feel that instructions should be conveyed to our Legations in San Salvador and Managua to watch most carefully any activities on the part of the Government of Nicaragua and Salvador directed towards disturbing the Government of Honduras which appears to be endeavoring to bring the country once more to a state of internal peace and future prosperity.

I may add that there is a growing tendency on the part of Honduras to look to the United States and a possible adoption of a treaty which would guarantee the protection and neutrality of this country.

I have [etc.]

Perry Belden
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  4. Omission indicated in the original despatch.
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