The Ambassador in Mexico (Daniels) to the Secretary of State

No. 230

Sir: I have the honor to refer to my despatch number 157 of June 2, 1933, reporting an informal conversation which I had with the Minister for Foreign Affairs on that day with regard to the desire of the Minister of El Salvador in Mexico, Doctor Juan Ramón Uriarte, that Doctor Puig Casauranc use his friendly offices to bring about the recognition of El Salvador by the United States.

[Page 681]

On the morning of June 15, prior to my calling on Doctor Puig on his regular diplomatic reception day in connection with other matters, I received a letter from him, dated June 14th and marked “Personal and Unofficial”, setting forth in detail the conversations which he has had with Doctor Uriarte and offering to mediate between the United States and El Salvador; but expressing the wish not to take any official action without first learning my opinion as [to] the possibility of success thereof. During the conversation which I had with Doctor Puig on June 15th, I told him I had just received his letter and would be glad to transmit it to the Department for its information and instructions.

Doctor Puig has told me on two occasions that his opinion regarding President Martínez and his administration of El Salvador has undergone a complete change since the conversations he had in Washington with the Honorable Francis White, then Assistant Secretary of State (see my despatch number 157 of June 2, 1933, and the Department’s instruction number 539 of February 17, 1932,6 file 816.01/94), and that he was convinced that President Martínez had done an excellent job in El Salvador. He said that, under the circumstances, he hoped we would see fit to recognize him.

Doctor Puig said there are, in his opinion, two important reasons for our recognizing the régime of President Martínez: (1) the necessity of having the greatest possible harmony among all American States prior to the Seventh Conference of American States at Montevideo in December of this year, and (2) the desirability of preventing revolution in El Salvador and other Central American countries.

As to point No. 1, Doctor Puig referred to the action of Mexico in agreeing to renew diplomatic relations with Nicaragua, Peru, and Venezuela, in accordance with the intention expressed in the message of President Rodríguez in reply to President Roosevelt’s circular telegram sent to heads of governments, and said that Mexico did not wish any blame to accrue to her because of lack of harmony which might result at Montevideo as a consequence of her not being on the most friendly terms with the other nations of this continent. He expressed the opinion that if the United States should see fit to enter into diplomatic relations with El Salvador, not only would we have, obviously, better relations with that country, but we would by our action discourage intrigues against El Salvador on the part of other Central American nations desirous of pleasing us by endeavoring to show approval of our policy of non-recognition of General Martínez. He said that he had information that relations between El Salvador and Guatemala were strained and he expressed the opinion that these [Page 682] relations would be materially improved were we to extend formal recognition.

As to point No. 2, Doctor Puig said that a few days ago he had received a visit from Señora de López Gutierrez, who, he said, is the widow of a former President of Honduras, and who was proceeding to the United States with a view to securing financial and armed assistance from private parties to foment an insurrection in Honduras. Doctor Puig said that she had failed to obtain assistance in Mexico. He said that political conditions in Central America were sufficiently unsettled as to bring about revolution in some or in all countries should an insurrection start in El Salvador. He said that if we should recognize the present government of El Salvador, this danger would be averted.

I have the honor to transmit herewith a copy and a translation of Doctor Puig’s letter to me of June 14th, together with copies and translations of the enclosures thereto, a copy of my reply to Doctor Puig, and a copy of a memorandum7 prepared by Colonel Moreno of the Embassy staff setting forth the situation regarding the relationship between the United States and El Salvador, as it appears to us in Mexico. The enclosures to Doctor Puig’s letter are tabulated as follows:

Copy: 1–A Translation: 2–A
1–B 2–B
1–C 2–C
1–D 2–D
1–E 2–E
1–F 2–F
1–G 2–G

—Memorandum regarding the legal status of the Government of President Martínez and regarding the present status of the efforts to secure recognition.
—Clipping from the newspaper El Dia of El Salvador, of May 22, 1933, reproducing an article from La Información of New York City.
—News item from the newspaper Patria of El Salvador, of December 31, 1931, regarding the visit to that country of Mr. Jefferson Caffery.8
—Copy of a cablegram sent by the Salvadorean Foreign Office to the Legation in Paris, June 7, 1933.
—Memorandum regarding the renewal of the service of the foreign debt of El Salvador.
—List of the countries which have recognized the Government of El Salvador.
—List of the courtesies and exemptions extended to the American Legation in El Salvador during the Martínez régime.
[Page 683]

I venture to add my personal comments to the material mentioned above, which I am transmitting herewith:

In order that there may be no misunderstanding of the attitude which I have assumed in my talks with Doctor Puig, I desire to clarify the statement which appears on page 2 of the translation of his letter of June 14 (Enclosure No. 2), reading as follows:8a

“Without indicating to Doctor Uriarte that the opinion originated with you and with Counselor Lane, I told the representative of El Salvador the other day that in my opinion the sole technical difficulty in the way of the Department of State lies in the Treaties signed in Washington—advancing, moreover, as just my own opinion, the suggestion that perhaps the easiest course would be for El Salvador to secure the denunciation of those Treaties by the signatory countries, thus removing the legal and moral [the moral and not the legal] obstacle which the White House may have encountered for the recognition.”

While it is true that Mr. Lane and I indicated that in our opinion the existence of the Treaty of 1923,9 which we supported even though we are not a party thereto, constituted the greatest difficulty to our recognition of General Martínez, we did not suggest, as might be inferred from Doctor Puig’s letter, that El Salvador should secure the denunciation of the Treaty by the signatory countries.

I am in agreement with Doctor Puig that it would be highly advisable in the interest of harmony among American nations for us to maintain the friendliest possible relations with all countries represented at the forthcoming Conference at Montevideo. Such friendly relations would, it seems clear, be more easily maintained should we have normal diplomatic relations with all the attending States.

In view of what has been the policy of the Government of the United States with respect to the recognition of new governments (see paragraph E on page 7 of Colonel Moreno’s memorandum—Enclosure No. 4 of this despatch), and in view of El Salvador’s having apparently complied with the conditions which have been required for our recognition,—and having in mind the emphasis placed by President Roosevelt in his broadcast of May 7, 193310 on “a re-establishment of friendly relations and greater confidence between the nations” (see paragraph F of Colonel Moreno’s memorandum), would it not be well, unless the Department sees some insuperable objection, to agree to Doctor Puig’s taking such steps as he wishes with a view to restoring the friendly relations which previously existed between the United States and El Salvador?

Respectfully yours,

Josephus Daniels
  1. Not printed.
  2. None of the enclosures is printed.
  3. Special representative of the Department in El Salvador, 1931–32.
  4. This letter was marked “personal and not official.” (711.12/8–3148)
  5. Treaty of peace and amity between Central American countries, signed February 7, 1923, Conference on Central American Affairs, Washington, December 4, 1922–February 7, 1923 (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1923), p. 287.
  6. Department of State, Press Releases, May 13, 1933, p. 333.