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

No. 97

Sir: The receipt is acknowledged of your strictly confidential despatch No. 230, dated June 16, 1933, regarding Dr. Puig’s offer of mediation in order to bring about recognition by the United States of a Government in El Salvador. Please say to Dr. Puig that your Government appreciates his friendly offer. Please repeat to him (for it is assumed that you have already fully and sympathetically explained to him the policy that this Government has consistently followed for the past several years) that it is the policy of your Government as regards recognition of Governments coming into power in Central America through a revolution, to be guided by the principles established by the Central American states themselves in the Treaty of 1923 in their effort to achieve stability and discourage revolutionary disturbances in their countries. Please say to Dr. Puig that your Government has, ever since the revolution of December, 1931, been desirous of being in a position to recognize a Government in Salvador consistently with the obligations your Government has assumed toward the other Central American states. The Government of General Martínez is, of course, barred [Page 686] from recognition by the 1923 Treaty, as is evidenced by the unanimous refusal of recognition to it on the part of the other four Central American states. If Dr. Puig therefore desires to bring about a state of affairs under which the United States Government could extend recognition to a Government in El Salvador, he might wish to consider the advisability of counseling General Martínez to step aside from the presidency in order that one of the Designates might assume that office who would be eligible for recognition under the principles of the 1923 Treaty. You may, if you judge it advisable, mention this to Dr. Puig.

I am at a loss to understand the statement at the foot of page 5 of your despatch—“… in view of El Salvador’s having apparently complied with the conditions which have been required for our recognition”. In this connection please refer to the Department’s telegram No. 22 of February 4, 1932.12

I also have some difficulty in appreciating the exact significance of Dr. Puig’s statement in his letter to you “that it may not be possible in all cases among us to be excessive sticklers for institutional rules”. After all, when there is a commitment by one Government to other Governments, assumed at their request, to support their policy in an effort to realize for themselves the benefits of peace and stability, such a commitment cannot frivolously be put aside. Such action would, to say the least, cast some doubt upon the reliance which could in the future be placed upon the good faith of the Government in question.

The memorandum attached as enclosure No. 1 to Dr. Puig’s letter states under part 2: “Dr. Paz Baraona, Ex-President of Honduras, and Minister Plenipotentiary of his country in Washington, solemnly promised the Salvadorean Chancery to undertake active measures in favor of recognition. This, then is a factor upon which we can count”. As of possible interest I quote herewith from a memorandum of a recent conversation between Dr. Paz and the Chief of the Latin American Division of this Department:

“Dr. Paz then said that he was instructed by his Government to state that his Government supported fully the 1923 Treaty of Peace and Amity and hoped to have it continued in force. He said that Honduras had been traditionally the battlefield for Central American wars. The treaties of 1907 and 1923 had put an end to this, and Honduras regarded the 1923 treaty as its salvation. He said that during his own presidential term he could never have held the free and fair elections that were held and have turned over peacefully the Government to his successful opponent of the opposing party without the influence exerted through the existence of the 1923 treaty and the moral support given to it by the United States.

[Page 687]

“I inquired whether Honduras found any embarrassment in the situation growing out of the non-recognition of Martínez. Dr. Paz said he did not think so. He said that Carias had friendly sentiments regarding Martínez, since the latter had supplied arms and ammunition to put down the revolution shortly before Carias assumed the presidency, and when Carias was in charge of the Honduran troops. I inquired whether the Honduran Government had any plan in mind to deal with this general situation arising out of the non-recognition of Martínez and the fact that the 1923 treaty had been denounced by both Costa Rica and El Salvador. Dr. Paz said he did not know. I said that our policy was, as it had been, to do whatever we appropriately could to assist the Central American republics, if they so desired, in their own efforts to promote peace and stability.”

Furthermore, my information is to the effect that the Governments of Guatemala and Nicaragua also desire to maintain the treaty in force. In view of this, Dr. Puig’s suggestion mentioned in his letter to you in the following terms

“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.”

hardly seems sound advice. The Department was relieved to note from your despatch that you did not, as might have been inferred from Dr. Puig’s letter, make this suggestion to him.

Enclosure No. 3 to Dr. Puig’s letter, an article from La Patria of San Salvador, dated December 31, 1931, states that Mr. Jefferson Caffery, then in San Salvador, “categorically stated—that the Government of the United States will recognize El Salvador” (meaning, presumably, the Government of General Martínez). Obviously this statement is false.

If there is any doubt in the Embassy as to the Department’s position in this matter, reference to the Department’s No. 22 of February 4, 1932, 6 p.m., and to instruction No. 881, of December 16, 1932,13 with which was enclosed copy of telegram to the American Legation at Guatemala dated November 22, 1932,14 should make the Department’s position amply clear. This position has not been changed.

Very truly yours,

William Phillips
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