814.00 Revolutions/61: Telegram

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

111. From Wilson. Reference Department’s telegram No. 74, December 17, noon, and the Legation’s 106, December 17, 2 p.m. I am in entire agreement with McCafferty that things have quieted down for the moment and that there is no immediate danger for American interests. The situation however is very serious. Regardless of whether Palma had taken office legally (and I think there is a reasonable argument that he had) there is no doubt that the Orellana coup was unconstitutional and should not be countenanced under the Washington treaty. To recognize Orellana would be tantamount to scrapping that treaty and inviting revolutionary movements in other Central American countries.

[Paraphrase.] Some plan must eventually be worked out under which Orellana would resign, thereby leaving Congress free to appoint a temporary President who was not connected with the recent movement and who could call an election for a constitutionally qualified President. Chacon, who is apparently entirely incapacitated, could resign of his own volition or Congress could declare him incapacitated.

The present Government has no funds and cannot maintain itself long without recognition. Realizing this, they sent a delegation to the Legation today to ask for support. It is my opinion that they might be induced to work out some such plan as that outlined above if they were informed that they could not be recognized under the treaty of 1923. [End paraphrase.]

You will, of course, want to await Whitehouse’s3 arrival Sunday and his recommendations before instructing the Legation to take any action, but I think some indication of our views should be made as soon as possible in an effort to be helpful in the present situation.

[Page 181]

I venture to submit the foregoing merely as my personal views based on a series of conversations today with well-informed people. I may add that I am in full accord with all that McCafferty has done and think he has handled the situation admirably. [Wilson]

  1. Sheldon Whitehouse, Minister in Guatemala.