816.00/872: Telegram

The Chargé in El Salvador (McCafferty) to the Secretary of State

86. Late yesterday the Ministers of War and Gobernación called on me, presented the greetings of General Martínez and then talked at length on general topics. After much hesitation the subject of the political situation was broached and I asked them how things were going along. They said that there had been no new developments.

They spoke of latent communism but I told them I had reliable information that communism was a dead issue at the present time and that the feeling of the farm laborers was now very strong against the radical leaders who fooled them but not against the government. It was evident that they felt that their red argument was not very convincing. I then mentioned to them the two interviews of Justice Guerrero with Secretary of State Stimson in which the former stated General Martínez had consented to turn over the Presidency to the First Designate on June 1st, he assuming the Ministry of War, also that of the representative of the de facto government in Washington with the Under Secretary of State which indicated the same thing. They made it appear as if they knew nothing of these interviews and evaded any comment on them. They then said that the military officers were insisting that Martínez remain and that they would not permit any of the present Designates to assume the Presidency. I said that it was unfortunate that before the naming of the Designates the military were not consulted and an agreement reached. They said that the Army indicated its preference for General Castañeda, Colonel Valdes and Colonel Menéndez as First, Second and Third Designates respectively but that they had not been chosen because they would have been barred by the 1923 treaty. I told them that unfortunately they themselves would be barred from recognition because they were Secretaries of State within 6 months prior to the election of Designates but surely I could not find anything in the treaty which would bar Colonel Menéndez. They volunteered the information that Colonel Menéndez would be acceptable to the Army and to them and that if the present Designates voluntarily resigned he could then be named First Designate but that this presented difficulties. I made no comment.

I then reiterated to them that we had no animus against General Martínez or anyone else in the de facto government and that we neither favored nor opposed any person for the Presidency. I emphasized the fact that our only interest was that we were most anxious [Page 601] to see a constitutional reorganization of the government in accordance with the provisions of the treaty of 1923 so that it could be recognized. I pointed out to them that without recognition the government could not be strong and firmly established and that the unsettled political disturbances were preventing a normalization of the serious economic situation. They agreed and said that it was very important that the situation should be normalized. They and General Martínez are undoubtedly concerned regarding nonrecognition. They said that they would talk to General Martínez regarding our conversation and would come back shortly. While the interview gave me no new information I obtained the impression that they had been sent by General Martínez to say that he could not turn over the Presidency at the present time to the First Designate but they left apparently without having the courage to say this definitely.