814.001Ch 34/17: Telegram

The Chargé in Guatemala ( McCafferty ) to the Secretary of State


95. The Foreign Minister just called me to the President’s residence where he informed me that President Lazaro Chacon had a cerebral hemorrhage, that his present condition is serious, and that eight physicians have signed a statement declaring him incapacitated. This morning the Cabinet met and decided to name the Second Designate, Baudilio Palma, to act as President for the period of Chacon’s incapacity. The Foreign Minister assured me that everything would be carried out legally, that the constitutional guarantees would not be suspended, and that the Cabinet’s action would be presented to the Legislative Assembly for its approval today at 5 p.m.

It has already been stated by several deputies that Congress would insist that the elections be called within the time prescribed by the Constitution, as they believe that the decision of the Cabinet to name Baudilio Palma for the period of Chacon’s incapacity is an attempt to keep him in power illegally for an indefinite period. There is much unrest and the political situation is extremely serious.