The Chargé in Guatemala (Lawton) to the Secretary of State

No. 889

Sir: I have the honor to report that the Minister for Foreign Affairs today asked me to convey once again his views regarding the Martínez régime to the Department. He said that he desired to make known to the incoming Secretary of State the willingness of the Guatemalan Government to co-operate in any policy with respect to General Martínez that might be decided upon by the new Administration.

I asked Mr. Skinner-Klee how the relations of Guatemala with El Salvador were at the present time. He replied that they were very unsatisfactory; but did not mention any specific new occurrences. He referred to the continuance of bad feeling and the alleged machinations of General Martínez in connection with his shipment of arms to Honduras and Nicaragua. I asked if it was not possible to improve the feeling between the two Republics even though the diplomatic situation remained as at present. Mr. Skinner-Klee said that such an improvement could not be looked for under existing conditions, but that, on the contrary, he expected things to go from bad to worse if the present policy were maintained. He said that in his opinion there were only two ways of laying the basis for a permanent understanding: either Martínez should be recognized, or he should be forced out. I asked him how he thought he should be forced out. He said that Guatemala alone could do nothing; but that full severance of diplomatic relations and an economic boycott on the part of the non-recognizing powers would force him out in no time. I did not comment on this; but asked him more about his desire to co-operate with the incoming Secretary of State.

Mr. Skinner-Klee continued by referring to a speech made by Mr. Stimson at the Pan-American Unión on February 20th last,2 in which he advocated upholding the sanctity of treaties. The Foreign Minister [Page 679] expressed himself as very much in accord with that statement. He said, however, that any policy decided upon by the Department would be faithfully accepted by Guatemala. If Washington wanted to leave matters as they are, Guatemala would do nothing. If Washington wanted to recognize Martínez, Guatemala would do so too. If Washington wanted to force him out, Guatemala would very gladly co-operate. And I gathered that it was this last course that Mr. Skinner-Klee favored.

In concluding our conversation I said that I would be glad to convey his views to the Department. Naturally I had nothing to say about the policy of the incoming Administration. With respect to our relations with El Salvador, I said that I had heard of no new developments.

My reaction to the remarks of the Foreign Minister was that the sooner he could be informed of the Department’s views the better. He is apparently hoping for a stronger policy against Martínez; and until he is assured that the Department does not contemplate any change in its policy, his Government is unlikely to settle down to making the best of things as they are.

Presumably Mr. Whitehouse will have discussed much more fully the above matters with the officials of the Department while on his present leave of absence. However, it is possible that the latest comments of Mr. Skinner-Klee on the Salvadoran situation may be helpful in those discussions.

Respectfully yours,

Edward P. Lawton
  1. See Department of State, Press Releases, February 25, 1933, pp. 130–131.