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

No. 651

Sir: I have the honor to refer to my despatch No. 648 of October 28, 1932,7 and to report that nearly a week has passed since elections with continued peace and tranquillity and rapidly returning public confidence. The commercial planes which sought safety in neighboring countries have returned and resumed their accustomed runs. It is probable that prominent refugees will also begin coming home, as the danger of revolution seems definitely past.

This extraordinary turn of events is due, I think, primarily to six factors, five tangible and one intangible but perhaps more efficacious than all the rest. First, the pacific proclamations of the two candidates on October 27, as described in my despatch referred to. Second, the sale of all alcoholic beverages was effectively prohibited three days before elections thus preventing last minute stocking up. Third, stricter enforcement of the President’s decree forbidding the carrying of weapons. Fourth, the prompt action of the President in dealing with reported cases of imposición during elections. Fifth, the sweeping, countrywide victory of the Nationalists which convinced the Liberal candidate that opposition would be useless and would only compromise his future political fortunes. Sixth, the fear of American intervention and non-recognition in case of a revolution.

Connected with the latter factor was an event that at first blush must appear trivial but which in a country as small and primitive as this and with a population so impressionable and credulous may have been of real importance. I refer to the showing of a moving picture at the largest local theater a few days prior to elections which had for its subject the maneuvers of the American fleet in the Pacific. At any rate, a persistent rumor circulated among the people [Page 721] that the United States airplane carrier Saratoga was in the Gulf of Fonseca waiting events and that other United States naval vessels were in North Coast waters, which rumors had an undeniably salutory effect. Since the elections good will toward Americans has been marked and the belief appears to exist that the United States in some way was responsible for the fact that the expected revolution did not take place. The first call paid by the president-elect was to this Legation in the early morning of the day following elections. He afterwards called upon the President to thank him for his efforts towards a peaceful election and later received the congratulations of the defeated candidate.

On the night following elections, October 31, a street fight occurred in Tegucigalpa between a Liberal and a Nationalist in front of the Liberal Party headquarters. Doctor Zuñiga Huete, defeated Liberal candidate for President, and General José María Reina, who is recognized as being the military leader of the Liberal Party, exerted a calming effect on the crowd and permitted the police to control the situation. Later a delegation of disappointed Liberals called at the residence of Doctor Zuñiga Huete and urged him to take up arms and not to submit to “dishonest elections”. Doctor Zuñiga Huete replied that he did not consider the elections dishonest and that he desired his party to accept their defeat and to work for victory in the next elections four years hence. I believe that the attitude of Doctor Zuñiga Huete will insure a peaceful transfer of power in February.

I have offered my personal congratulations to the President on the way the elections were conducted and to Doctor Zuñiga Huete on his subsequent behavior.

Respectfully yours,

Julius G. Lay
  1. Not printed.