814.00 Revolutions/66: Telegram
The Chargé in Guatemala ( McCafferty ) to the Secretary of State
[Received December 20—9:55 a.m.]
114. With reference to my telegram of December 18, 8 p.m., No. 111, yesterday a delegation from General Orellana came to see me to ask for support and to explain the reason for their overthrow of the established government. Their contentions are the following:
- Mauro de Leon should have been called as First Designate to take charge of the Presidency because, although he had sent his resignation to Congress, it had not been accepted.
- The Cabinet was wrong in accepting the opinion of doctors who were not sent by Congress to examine Chacon’s health.
- In calling Palma to take charge of the Presidency, the Cabinet had acted illegally as this should have been done only by Congress.
- That Congress was compelled by threats to vote for Palma.
In reply to these contentions, the Government’s argument is as follows:
- Mauro de Leon, when he accepted the post of Minister of War, automatically ceased to be First Designate and therefore the acceptance by Congress of this resignation was not necessary.
- The physical incapacity of Chacon brought about a very serious situation and it was necessary for the Cabinet to act quickly so as not to leave the country without a chief executive.
- That the Cabinet complied with the law by immediately calling Congress into session and it chose Palma.
- The five physicians who signed the statement regarding Chacon’s incapacity were highly reputable men and would not have signed a false declaration and moreover Congress accepted the statement of these physicians when they declared Palma in charge of the Presidency.
[Paraphrase.] I think that there is a reasonable argument that Palma obtained office in a constitutional manner and that his government was a legal continuation of the Chacon administration. The arguments of the revolutionists are based on petty technicalities. [End paraphrase.]
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