The Minister in Guatemala ( Hanna ) to the Secretary of State

No. 401

Sir: Supplementing my despatch No. 396 of October 25, 1934,22 I have the honor to report that in conversation with the Minister for Foreign Affairs he informed me that President Ubico was pleased with the Department’s offer of cooperation in building the Inter-American Highway and desired to take advantage of it. He stated that he had asked the Minister of Agriculture for his recommendation with regard to the route, although he did not anticipate any desire on the part of the Government of Guatemala to make more than minor changes.

The Minister said that this Government would be interested mainly in road-building machinery and bridge material, and he seemed to be interested in devising some practical procedure for starting work on the Highway. I told him this might be facilitated and hastened if his Government could submit some concrete proposal concerning what it is prepared to do in the way of cooperation. He indicated the possibility that there might be a desire here to commence operations on that section of the Highway leading from Guatemala City to the Salvadoran frontier rather than the section from the capital to the Mexican [Page 482] frontier. I told him that if this plan or idea should develop his Government might wish to prepare a project for carrying it out which would be the basis for a specific request for the machinery and bridge material desired.

With reference to the foregoing, I venture to add that should the project for the construction of the highway to the Salvadoran border materialize it would be one which would be essentially beneficial to this country and which might encourage the other governments of Central America to take action upon the highways in these countries. Last April, just prior to the rainy season, I made the trip from San Salvador to Guatemala City by motor in about ten hours running time. I believe that, with the building of bridges and a reasonable amount of improvement of the roadbed and surface, the road would be opened to year-around traffic and the time between the two capitals would be reduced to from six to seven hours.

One of President Ubico’s special interests is the improvement of roads in Guatemala and he as well as many local officials are rapidly becoming conscious of the value of the tourist traffic. Approximately one hundred tourists are landed at San José by each north and south bound vessel of the Grace Line for a hurried visit to Antigua and Guatemala City. The United Fruit Line is about to offer special inducements to increase its tourist traffic through Puerto Barrios to the capital. The tourists generally are highly satisfied with the experience and many of them express regret that they cannot remain longer in the country. I feel quite certain that if and when the road linking the capitals of El Salvador and Guatemala is completed the number of tourists who would visit the two countries, as well as remain in them a more appreciable length of time than at present, would be greatly increased, and that their visits would prove of value in furthering and cementing the friendly sentiments which those countries now entertain for the United States, and would be of great economic and social benefit to Guatemala and El Salvador.

Respectfully yours,

Matthew E. Hanna
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