The Chargé in Guatemala (O’Donoghue) to the Secretary of State

No. 943

Sir: I have the honor to refer to the Department’s telegram No. 20 of March 26, 5 p.m. instructing me to enter into informal conversations with the Government of Guatemala with reference to the possibility of the United States donating a second bridge to Guatemala along the route of the Inter-American Highway. The Department stated that after being informed of the desires of the Government of Guatemala with regard to the bridge which it would like to have constructed it would, upon the return to Washington of Mr. E. W. James of the Bureau of Public Roads, instruct me with reference to the specific assistance to be offered.

In connection with the foregoing, I have the honor to report that on March 24, Mr. James called at the Legation and discussed the matter with me, after which he also informally consulted with Dr. Guillermo Cruz, the Minister of Agriculture, with respect thereto. In a letter from Mr. James dated March 26, he advised me that in his opinion it would be more practical to carry out certain bridge work “from Asunción Mita by way of the proposed Tamasulapa bridge to [Page 162] the Salvadoran line”. He added that he had discussed this latter work with Dr. Cruz and felt that the Minister was disposed to request that it be done.

On March 30, I called on the Guatemalan Foreign Minister and brought the subject matter of the Department’s telegram under reference to his attention. The Minister expressed himself as being very much pleased with the possibility of the United States donating a second bridge to Guatemala and stated that he would immediately consult with the Minister of Agriculture as to his desires with regard thereto. I then went to see Dr. Cruz who told me that he would be glad if the United States could construct a bridge over the Panajachel River near the village of Tzanjuyú (Lake Atitlan). While the river is not on the projected line of the Inter-American Highway, it is I believe an alternative route to be proposed by the Government of Guatemala instead of the route over the mountain pass at Tecpan to Los Encuentros and is considered a more direct route than the one suggested in the reconnaissance survey. Dr. Cruz stated that he had already discussed this bridge work with Mr. D. Tucker Brown of the Bureau of Public Roads, who, according to the Minister of Agriculture, had indicated his approval of the plan.

In my personal opinion the road through Godines, Tzanjuyú, Solola to Los Encuentros is more practicable than that over the Tecpan pass which latter at times rises as high as ten thousand feet above sea level and is often covered with fog and the road itself dangerously slippery.

The Panajachel River is narrow but in the rainy season is quite disturbed and strong often causing numerous wash-outs and interrupting communication along that section of the highway. According to the Minister of Agriculture a bridge sufficient to withstand any stress from the river could be constructed there for about $20,000 to $25,000.

I shall await the Department’s further instructions with regard to the above.

Respectfully yours,

Sidney E. O’Donoghue