The Chargé in Bolivia (Muccio) to the Secretary of State

No. 563

Sir: I have the honor to refer to my despatch No. 529, dated February 28, 1936, transmitting the Presidential Decree of February 27, 1936, convoking national elections for May 31st, next, and to enclose a newsclipping from Ultima Hora of April 27th, and translation, giving the text of a Presidential Decree dated April 27, extending the period of registration to May 15, 1936, “so that the number of [Page 224] citizens (concurring) may increase in view of the transcendency of this plebiscite.”

It is the consensus of opinion that there will be no national elections on May 31st. None of the political parties in Bolivia has selected or presented candidates and none has yet publicly stated that it will concur. The President of the Republic has been having a series of feverish conferences with the various party leaders urging them to consent to go to the elections, without success. In announcing that he was still endeavoring to convince party leaders to take part, the President is quoted in the Ultima Horn of May 7th as stating, in translation:

“Facing the gravity of the national problems, I am intimately convinced—of which I have already informed the nation—that only by constituting a legal government can Bolivia remain capable to handle the grave international questions that she has pending and to resolve the disquieting internal problems. It is for this that I shall not cease recommending to the nation that it retemper its patriotism and concur in an election to constitute public authority (power) on the basis of the consent of the public, in such form that whoever may accede to the government will be supported by national opinion, task which may be assured beforehand will be confronted with difficulties of all orders.”

The President is reported to be prepared to postpone the elections provided all parties consent thereto.

The Liberal Party, in its recent convention, decided to abstain from the coming elections. In a public statement, dated May 2 (text of which as published in El Diario of May 3rd, and translation, is enclosed5), Doctor Tomás Manuel Elío, leader of that party, explained that the liberals had decided not to take part since they had submitted definite proof to the President that the “Army would not recognize the results of the elections, for it had the intention of intervening directly in politics, imposing a new regime.” To this the President is reported to have replied that the government possesses moral recourses only to make the Army consider respecting the results of the elections.

It is persistently rumored that Doctor Elío has even suggested to the various parties that they agree to endorse a united candidacy of Doctor Bautista Saavedra (Republican Socialist) for President and Señor Enrique Baldivieso (Socialist) for Vice President in order to avoid the inevitability of an Army regime.

It would be exceedingly rash to endeavor to predict the course of events in Bolivia in the near future. Only a miracle might pull the country out of its present chaotic condition and establish a constitutional government.… united action is out of the question. The direct intervention of the Army appears inevitable.

Respectfully yours,

John J. Muccio
  1. Not printed.