825.00/284: Telegram

The Ambassador in Chile ( Collier ) to the Secretary of State


56. Tonight Alessandri and family depart for Buenos Aires with Europe as their ultimate destination. I shall accompany them to Mendoza, returning Friday evening. I am taking this course at the request of the family and with the full permission of the Government. On two occasions Alessandri tendered his resignation but each time it was rejected by Congress. The latter, however, under the Constitution has granted him a leave of 6 months. He stated to me that he intends again to resign when he crosses the frontier, inasmuch as he believes it to be inconsistent with his self-respect and dignity to remain in office when he is not permitted by the military junta to perform the duties of his office. In a sense his resignation is absolutely voluntary although his departure from Chile is a result of his knowledge that if he did not depart he would be forced to by the junta. The junta wants him to accept the leave granted and not resign. In keeping with the Constitution General Altamirano as Minister of the Interior assumed full power as Acting President. The Cabinet offered to send in their resignations but the members have all been retained. No other faction or party claims to be the Government. Thousands of people throughout Chile undoubtedly do not approve of what has happened. However, I have learned of no protests, especially by organized factions. Everything has been done according to constitutional forms. The exertion of pressure has been by intimation rather than by direct threats. No act of violence has yet occurred, but if compliance had not been given force would undoubtedly have been used. The nation as a whole seems inclined to accept the present Government at least until a new Constitution is adopted or until new elections bring about a change. The legality of the Government is not challenged by the press. Under the existing situation I believe that the new Cabinet must be recognized as legal and General Altamirano as constitutionally selected. I believe most and possibly all members of the diplomatic corps hold this view. It is practically certain, however, that the present Congress will be done away with. … It cannot be constitutionally [Page 359] dissolved but the junta will certainly ask its members to resign and if necessary dissolve it by force. Please instruct me concerning the recognition of the new Government.