816.00 Revolutions/36: Telegram
The Minister in El Salvador (Curtis) to the Secretary of State
[Received December 9—11 a.m.]
113. Your 63, December 7, 5 p.m. The following is a preliminary report. Every day I am assured that the Military Directorate will immediately dissolve. When this takes place I believe the new government will satisfy all the technicalities of the constitution.
The following facts might indicate that Vice President Martínez did participate in the revolution:
- The revolutionists did not harm him.
- During the revolution he was in the artillery barracks and still has his office there.
- He did not fight against the revolutionists.
- President Araujo had just dismissed him as Minister of War.
The following information indicates that he did not take part in the revolution:
- He was confined to the barracks.
- At 7 a.m. Thursday he was unable to talk privately with me.
- The leaders of the revolt did not consult him on such important questions as to whether or not there would be an armistice, the duration of the same, or the conditions to be laid down.
- The leaders of the revolt in the infantry barracks did not want him for President at 8:30 a.m.
- During the three interviews which I had with the leaders on December 3 he was not present and was not referred to in any way as having a voice in decisions.
- He was not a member of the Military Directorate.
- Until almost the last moment he was Minister of War. He would have a high sense of duty and may well have been kept in ignorance of the plot.
All of the above numbered statements except the last are facts verified by my personal observation.
President Araujo was in the Presidential Mansion when, shortly after 10 p.m. of December 2, shots were fired at the Mansion from the infantry barracks across the street. After spending 2 or 3 hours in various places in San Salvador he drove 7 miles to Santa Tecla. I conferred with him there at noon December 3 regarding an armistice and told him the conditions of the revolutionists. These he declined. The principal one was his resignation as President. At 3 p.m. that same day he departed for Santa Ana, about 35 miles distant, accompanied by 200 armed men, where he arrived safely and was received loyally. About 11:30 [a.m.?] on December 4, he left for Guatemala and crossed the frontier at about 1:30 p.m. President Araujo left behind a document depositing the office of President with Third Designate Olano.
The immediate cause of the revolt was the failure for some months to pay the Army, but strong criticism of President Araujo and his immediate entourage had been common for some time. Bankers and others whom he had called in for advice on financial matters had become disgusted with the management of the Government finances. Yesterday the managers of the three local banks emphatically stated to me that if Araujo had remained in office 3 months longer there would have been currency inflation and consequent destruction of Salvadoran credit at home and abroad. His failure to carry out any of his pre-election promises and his lavish personal expenses caused the common people to become severely critical and impatient. It was with difficulty that Government salary certificates could be cashed …
Salazar, the Second Designate, was in the artillery barracks when I was there the morning of December 3, on which day he accepted the appointment of civilian adviser to the revolutionary government.
The obstacles to turning the Government over to the First Designate, Salvador Lopez are (1) his absence in Guatemala and (2) as a brother-in-law of President Araujo he would be absolutely unacceptable to the country at the present time.
What effect the recognition of the government of General Martínez would have on future revolutions in El Salvador or other Central American countries I do not know. However, I believe that the great majority of the people of El Salvador want him as President at the present moment. Only after he had been informed that President Araujo had left the country did he assume authority, and it will [Page 192] probably be impossible to obtain any proof that he participated in the revolution, although I shall continue to investigate this. Unless the Minister of War is “a high military command” or a “Secretary of State”, his government can probably be recognized under the treaty of 1923.
My efforts to make clear to the leaders of the revolution the policy of the Government of the United States in support of the treaty of 1923 have resulted in repeated statements that the Directorate will be dissolved immediately. But until its dissolution has been clearly shown to be a fact, I strongly recommend that recognition be not granted.