816.00 Revolutions/25: Telegram

The Minister in El Salvador ( Curtis ) to the Secretary of State


109. Your 61, December 5, 2 p.m. Yesterday afternoon Martínez informed me that only he as President could call an extra session of the Legislative Assembly; that he had not done so, and that the Assembly will not convene until February as usual, with new members elected about the middle of this month.22

The treaty of 1923 requires constitutional reorganization of El Salvador by the freely elected representatives of the people. If the elections must be subsequent to the revolution, members of the Legislative Assembly are to be elected in a few days, but they will be unable to meet constitutionally until the first of next February. If Presidential elections must be held, there is no way by which these can be held constitutionally before those for the term beginning March 1, 1935, since the Vice President has succeeded constitutionally for the Presidential term which expires on that date. (This is according to a very positive statement made to me yesterday morning by Arrieta Rossi.)

See summary of decree in my 106, December 5, noon. Apparently, constitutionally, valid Presidential elections could be held earlier, however, by a constitutional amendment; to accomplish this the Legislative Assembly would have to adopt the amendment in two successive years by a two-thirds vote of all its members, after which a Constitutional [Page 187] Assembly would have to meet and approve them. Such an amendment, it will be observed, could not go into effect until March 1933 at the earliest. Article 148 states that the article on the length of the Presidential term cannot be altered, but it seems to be generally agreed that a Constitutional Assembly is supreme and can disregard all existing constitutional provisions and even adopt an entirely new constitution.

The exact meaning of the treaty is not clear to me, and I am not in possession of the text of the reservations which the Government of El Salvador is said to have made when ratifying the same, but I recommend that recognition be delayed because of certain indications that Martínez is as yet little more than a mask for the Military Directorate.

  1. In his No. 110, December 7, 2 p.m., the Minister in El Salvador telegraphed: “My telegram 109, December 6, 10 a.m. Please correct last words first paragraph to read about the middle of next month, that is January. The second sentence of the next paragraph should also be corrected accordingly.” (816.00 Revolutions/29)