816.01/344a: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Secretary of State 2

2. We have in mind a plan for dealing with the abnormal situation in Central America arising out of non-recognition of the Martínez regime which we would like to submit for your comment and suggestions in the light of any talks you may have had at Montevideo. If you approve we will take it up with the President and, subject to his authorization, broach it in Central America.

As you will recall, Martínez came into power in December, 1931, following a revolution. Having been Minister of War at the time of the revolution he was clearly barred from recognition under the terms of the Central American 1923 General Treaty of Peace and Amity.3 The other four Central American states declined to recognize him, and the United States, while of course not a party to the Treaty, nevertheless declined recognition, in line with our policy of supporting the efforts of the Central American states to discourage revolution in their countries. Salvador and Costa Rica both denounced the Treaty, their denunciation taking effect January 1 of this year. The Treaty, under its terms, remains in effect among the other three states. We are now advised that Costa Rica has recognized Martínez as of January 1.

The plan we have in mind to deal with this situation is as follows: That agreement be reached between the Presidents of Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua providing in effect that, in view of the denunciation by Costa Rica and Salvador of the Treaty, and pending a revision of that Treaty, the three Presidents declare that their Governments, [Page 217] while regarding the Treaty as being in force with respect to the relations maintained by the three states with each other, do not regard it as being in force with respect to the relations of those states with Costa Rica and Salvador. Following the signature of such an agreement, the three Governments in question would extend recognition to the Martínez Government; the United States would extend recognition simultaneously. The agreement between the three Presidents would also provide for the calling at a later date of another Conference of the Central American states to consider a revision of the General Treaty of Peace and Amity and such action relating to the other treaties signed in 1923 as might appear appropriate. It is our idea that this subsequent Conference should not be held in Washington. If the Central American states desired us to be present unofficially as observers, we would of course be willing to do this and to assist in any way we appropriately could.

Our thought is to broach this plan informally to President Sacasa of Nicaragua through Minister Lane, with the suggestion that Sacasa, if the idea appeals to him, either might put it forward as his own initiative with the Presidents of Guatemala and Honduras; or, if Sacasa preferred, Mr. Lane could visit Guatemala (Minister Hanna is absent) and suggest to President Ubico that he take the initiative in the matter.

It would be our consistent purpose throughout the suggested negotiation to have the initiative taken by the Central American States and to have any suggestions emanating from us regarded as strictly confidential. Our participation in the matter, consequently, would be strictly behind the scenes. If the plan is carried out, the obvious advantages are the possibility of immediate recognition of the Government of Salvador by our own Government after such action had been taken by the other Central American Governments and subsequently the amendment of the principal treaties and conventions of 1923 in such a manner as experience has shown to be desirable to those of the Central American Governments as wish their continuance.

Please cable your views.

  1. The Secretary of State was at Santiago, Chile, returning from Montevideo, Uruguay, where he had served as Chairman of the American delegation to the Seventh International Conference of American States, December 3–26, 1933.
  2. Conference on Central American Affairs, Washington, December 4, 1922–February 7, 1923 (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1923), p. 287.