Press Release Issued by the Department of State on June 30, 1930 5
The Department has received a telegram, dated June 27, 10 a.m.,6 which was delayed in transmission from Mr. Frederick P. Hibbard, the American Chargé d’Affaires at La Paz, to the effect that on Wednesday night, June 25, at 9 o’clock, the cadets of the military college revolted against the Government following the receipt of the news of the successful revolt in Oruro. There was heavy street fighting all during the night and Thursday morning in which other elements opposed to the Government joined and during which the military college was bombarded. The Government troops were able to put down the uprising temporarily, although the majority of the cadets and their sympathizers had not yet surrendered and were barricaded on the outskirts of the city. Several members of the Diplomatic Corps appealed to General Kundt in the interest of humanity to halt the firing, which he did. The telegram adds that the Army has taken control of the Government and a military junta of six ranking colonels is in charge. Most of the members of the cabinet and the nationalist leaders have taken refuge in foreign legations. Ex-President Siles and his family are in the Brazilian Legation. However, the Nationalist Party still refuses to concede control to a military regime, and Mr. Hibbard stated that until this was settled there might be further trouble. Oruro, Cochabamba, Sucre, and Potosi are all in control of military juntas. Everything is quiet in those cities, although there has been street fighting. They are prepared to join La Paz in temporary Army control of the country, but insist that the Nationalist control of the country be broken and that Siles be exiled. Their program is to maintain the present constitution and, when tranquillity is established, to hold the elections in a normal manner. The telegram added that the atmosphere in La Paz was still tense, that shops and public utilities were closed, and that, although the American Legation was in the direct line of firing, no damage had been done to it or to any American property.
The Department has received a further telegram, dated June 28, 1 p.m., from Mr. Hibbard, stating that the cadets, students, and other elements opposed to the Government, who were barricaded on the Altiplano Thursday were joined by the aviation forces and several regiments. Meanwhile, there were continued demonstrations against the Government at La Paz, the crowds demanding the release of political prisoners. The Prefect, Colonel Julio Sanjines, also a member of the military junta, was eventually forced to resign, and the prefecture, [Page 421] as well as all other Government offices, was taken over by the mob. All political prisoners were released amid a wildly enthusiastic reception. The cadets, aviation troops, line regiments, and armed civilians marched into La Paz where they were joined by the crowd and other military units. During the day there was spasmodic firing. Mr. Hibbard adds that for the time being the Government is controlled by Colonel Pando as military chief, Otero as prefect, with Bustamante, President of the Banco Central, and Elio, former Minister for Foreign Affairs, as advisers. They are awaiting the arrival of military representatives from the other provinces when a new military junta will be formed to govern until constitutional elections can be called. The telegram adds that Friday afternoon the houses of ex-President Siles, Taborga, Romecin, Sanjines, Vega, Kundt, and other Nationalist leaders were sacked and the contents destroyed. Ex-President Siles’ grand piano was burned in the street before the Brazilian Legation. The telegram adds that the battle cries have been for the constitution without mention of individual names and that a white flag is carried with the Bolivian flag. The Army has turned against General Kundt, and he has taken refuge in the German Legation along with the other German military instructors. The majority of the Army is being concentrated at La Paz. Except for enthusiastic street parades with bands, the city is quiet, although many shops are closed and rail and wire communications are irregular. Those in control are taking every measure to prevent further reprisals.
Mr. Hibbard adds that every legation excepting the American and the Italian have political refugees and that it is presumed that arrangements will shortly be made to take them out of the country, or else guarantees will be given them. On Wednesday and Thursday of last week, Bustamante, President of the Banco Central, was in the American Legation. Mr. Hibbard adds that the fact that the American Legation is next to the military college and has been in the center of the trouble, with troops surrounding it, has prevented it from being the asylum of other refugees.
Walter I. Gholz, an American teacher in the American Institute, was slightly wounded in the leg by machine-gun fire during the night of Wednesday, June 25, but no other Americans or American property have been injured.
A telegram, dated June 28, 4 p.m., from Mr. Hibbard, states that the following junta will govern the country for the present: Colonels Osorio, Pando, Lanza, González Quint, and Bilbao, with Doctor Bustamante as adviser.
The telegram states that the junta declares that it will respect the constitution of the nation calling shortly for free elections for deputies and senators and the consequent formation of a constitutional cabinet, [Page 422] and furthermore that it will comply strictly with the internal and external obligations of the Republic. The telegram added that everything was quiet during the afternoon of June 28, although the people were enjoying a holiday and all shops and offices remained closed.