825.00 Revolutions/85: Telegram
The Ambassador in Chile (Culbertson) to the Secretary of State
[Received 3:50 a.m.]
82. I wish that I might in some way convey to you the tragic uncertainty of the situation in Chile tonight. Dávila resigned as member of Junta this afternoon—the climax of differences between those favoring a military junta and those favoring extremist civilian government.
On the one hand are the extremists, the Communists, under the leadership of Lafferte. They have burrowed into the Government and into the armed forces. The extent of their influence and power cannot be measured. They hold meetings in the main avenue and their orators demand arms for the masses and threaten to burn and kill. Yesterday they wrecked the interior of the University including works of art. The emotions of the poor classes are being aroused and mob violence is possibility. The American community has stores of food in Santiago College and has taken measures for self-protection in case the authorities lose control.
On the other side are the Conservatives. They are without effective leadership. They nurse their respectability behind the barred doors of the Union Club. The hope of intervention by the United States is often expressed in their conversations.
Anything can happen in Chile. The course of events depends on unknown factors especially on human emotions. The Junta has played with mob desires too much and even the speech of Grove, referred to in a recent telegram, which the leaders of the Army insisted [Page 441]that he deliver, has not cheeked the tide of subversive propaganda. The city is covered with posters proclaiming communism and four or five irresponsible newspapers are pouring violence into the ready ears of the unemployed.
Opinion is divided on the outcome. Conservative tendencies seem to conserve the Navy, such as it is. The friends of Ibañez in the Army and Air Service are with Dávila but there are other elements with Grove. Rumor is Hidalgo, former communist Senator but not member of Third International, will replace Dávila on Junta. The morning is awaited with great concern. Perhaps the better elements will check the flood and establish a government of order, but we can only say “perhaps.”
If and when the crisis comes I may call you by telephone.