815.00/4543: Telegram

The Minister in Honduras (Lay) to the Secretary of State

85. Department’s telegram No. 46, October 19, 6 p.m.6 Considering that elections are only 10 days off Honduras is remarkably tranquil and there has been no material change in the political situation since the Legation’s air-mail despatch No. 636 of October 14th was written. Nevertheless the belief is general and well founded that a revolution will certainly occur sometime between elections and inauguration [Page 718] February 1st. A few believe that it will break loose on election day or night. My opinion is that the elections will be peaceable except for a few sporadic incidents in places other than Tegucigalpa.

With respect to the last sentence of the Department’s telegram under reference I have been under the impression from a study of the Legation’s records relating to the last revolution which touched Tegucigalpa that the Department would as it did in 1924 authorize the sending of a naval force to the capital if American lives should be in imminent peril. There are in and about Tegucigalpa 75 Americans and several hundred other non-Latin American foreigners who would as in past look to the Legation for protection. Even if their lives were in danger a good many Americans and other foreigners would find it impossible to go to Amapala. If Tegucigalpa should be attacked the danger might easily be greater to foreigners than it was in 1925 [1924] because of Communists now here and the possible intervention of Sandinistas. Day before yesterday 60 of the capital police mutinied because of pay arrears. The mutiny was quelled but there are now only 20 policemen for the protection of this city of over 35,000 and lawlessness has become almost epidemic. Moreover recent landslides have rendered the only road to the South impassable to wheeled transport for the next fortnight or more. In view of the foregoing the Department will appreciate the necessity of my knowing in advance if it is intended that under no circumstances and no matter how great the peril to American lives a United States naval force will not be sent to Tegucigalpa. Americans hereabouts desire to know how much more protection they can count on in an emergency and I believe that it is only fair that I should be able to inform them in advance.

  1. Not printed.