The Minister in Honduras (Summerlin) to the Secretary of State

No. 563

Sir: I have the honor to report that a convention of the Liberal Party, called to nominate candidates for President and Vice President, has been in session here for the last two weeks. Prior to the meeting of the convention the Directive Board of the local branch of the party endeavored to come to some kind of an agreement with General Vicente Tosta, with a view either to nominating him as the Liberal party’s candidate for President, or to refraining from nominating a candidate, but supporting General Tosta in the presidential campaign. It is reported that an agreement was reached and actually signed, only to be repudiated by General Tosta, on the following day. It is said that these tactics of General Tosta have caused the leaders of his own party—the National Party—to withdraw all offers of patronage and office formerly made to him. General Tosta has stated repeatedly that he would not be a “third” candidate—that should the National Party and the Liberal Party each nominate a candidate, other than himself, he would withdraw from the race.

In the meantime, the Liberal Convention appears to be marking time, awaiting, so it is stated, the arrival at Tegucigalpa of other prominent Liberals from outlying departments.

It is evident to the Legation that the Liberals appreciate their weakness and lack of political organization, and it is generally believed they will resort to any means—even violence—in an endeavor to prevent the elections from being held in October next. In this connection, it is being whispered in Liberal circles that Gregorio Ferrera is preparing to lead a movement against Honduras from Guatemala and that no obstacles will be placed in the way by the Guatemalan Government. In my personal opinion General Ferrera is an element of genuine danger in the situation. There is no doubt that the badly organized and badly disciplined Liberal Party contains many desperate elements, particularly in the Northern Departments, [Page 70]who, having nothing to lose and being without scruple, will be only too glad to start trouble later in the year. The fact that they cannot ultimately succeed will not, I believe in any way deter them. These elements will rally to General Ferrera. It is not to be supposed that the latter will for his part, remain inactive, nor judging, by past events, is one encouraged to believe that the Government of Guatemala will interpose any serious and effective obstacles to his activities in that country, directed toward aiding and cooperating with disaffected groups in Honduras. The consequences of an uprising of violent Liberals, aided and in fact led by General Ferrera, would be very serious and the eventuality of such a catastrophe is entirely in the realm of possibility. I therefore venture respectfully to suggest for the Department’s serious consideration, the advisability of conveying to the Guatemalan Government, in unmistakable terms, that it will be considered to be responsible for any and every endeavor of General Ferrera, while he is on Guatemalan soil, to overthrow the Government of Honduras, directly or indirectly, or to interfere in any illegal manner with the elections to be held in Honduras in October. If the Guatemalan Government does not wish to assume this responsibility, it might be suggested that the expulsion of General Ferrera would be an evidence of good faith, and it might further be suggested to that Government that ignorance of the presence of General Ferrera, which probably would be alleged, could not relieve it of responsibility in the premises.

I am fully aware of the unusual character of the suggested procedure, but the consequences of a revolution this year in Honduras would be so grave and irremediable, from every point of view, that I cannot escape the conviction, reached after mature consideration, that drastic measures of prevention will be fully justified. It is a situation in which nothing should be left to chance or to depend on eventual circumstances.

I have [etc.]

George T. Summerlin