The Minister in El Salvador (Corrigan) to the Secretary of State

No. 243

Sir: Referring to Department’s instruction Numbers 38 of October 17, 1934,28 77 of February 15, 1935,29 and 94 of March 30, 1935,30 and accompaning correspondence, I have the honor to report that Mr. E. W. James of the Bureau of Public Roads of the United States accompanied by Mr. George Curtis Peck of the Panama office of that Bureau arrived in San Salvador May 14. They were put in touch with the Subsecretary of Public Works, Manuel López Harrison, who has charge of all highway construction in this country. Mr. López Harrison arranged an interview between these gentlemen and President Martínez the following morning at 10.00 a.m.

Following this interview Mr. James reported to me how completely surprised he was by the President’s attitude. President Martínez unequivocally refused to consider a tentative offer of material for a bridge across the river Lempa in the path of the proposed inter-American highway. He said that Salvadoran public opinion would not permit the acceptance of anything in the nature of a gift from the United States. He did however indicate that credits for materials for highway construction or a loan at a low rate of interest would be acceptable.

I am not surprised at the attitude assumed by President Martínez. The recent very acrimonious newspaper agitation with regard to the readjustment of the Foreign Loan Contract has aroused a spirit of nationalism characterized by asseveration of ability to go it alone and by opposition to anything that seems to impugn sovereignty.

Therefore acceptance of what amounts to a gift from the United States would result in unfavorable public reaction at this time. This is not necessarily a symptom of unfriendliness as it is not discriminatory [Page 255] but it is a state of feeling that might easily develop elements of discord. The matter can be re-opened later under more favorable conditions.

Respectfully yours,

Frank P. Corrigan
  1. See Foreign Relations, 1934, vol. iv, p. 476, footnote 11.
  2. See footnote 12, p. 245.
  3. See footnote 22, p. 250.