Memorandum of Telephone Conversation, by the Assistant Chief of the Division of Caribbean and Central American Affairs (Cochran)

Under Mr. Warren’s17 instructions, I telephoned Ambassador Messersmith to state that Mr. Rockefeller had had a further talk with the Guatemalans. Guatemala is not prepared to recognize El Salvador before March 1. However, they will send a delegation to Mexico City, even though recognition be extended to El Salvador by other countries, although it would be easier to make this concession—and they might even extend immediate recognition—if the Salvadoran delegates were named by the new President, Castañeda Castro. We therefore feel we should go ahead with our recognition plan because of our commitment to 14 countries18 on the principle of recognition and consultation and because Salvador is one of the United Nations and has cooperated in the war effort.

The Ambassador said that he had just talked with Padilla, who said that he could not take the risk of not having Guatemala at the meeting; he thought he had considerable responsibility in connection with the meeting, and the Guatemalan Ambassador had yesterday informed him not only that Guatemala was not prepared to recognize El Salvador at this time, but also that it would not send a delegation to Mexico City if El Salvador were represented. Padilla seemed to feel that there was a possibility that Costa Rica might similarly refuse to attend, and that if we recognized El Salvador there was a risk of Guatemala’s staying away and the possibility that Costa Rica might abstain. Padilla had stated that he was prepared to go along on the recognition of El Salvador provided that we would give him absolute assurances that Guatemala and Costa Rica would be at the meeting. Otherwise, he could not recognize and invite El Salvador and run the risk of losing Guatemala and Costa Rica. I pointed out that as far as we were concerned, we could see no connection between a conference of nations which had collaborated in the war effort and the question of recognition of El Salvador, but Ambassador Messersmith pointed out that this was not Padilla’s attitude. Ambassador Messersmith further said that he had yesterday had his Tegular conference with the representatives of American newspapers, 16 men, and that they had asked several questions which he had not answered. However, it had been apparent that none of them had the slightest intimation that El Salvador would be recognized before March 1. He felt that this might be taken into consideration.

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Ambassador Messersmith’s exposition of Padilla’s attitude was conveyed to Mr. Warren, and after discussion with Mr. Rockefeller, Ambassador Messersmith was informed that we would undertake to deliver both Costa Rica and Guatemala to the conference, and that we would go ahead with our plans for recognizing El Salvador on February 15. He was asked so to inform Padilla.

W[illiam] P. C[ochran]
  1. Avra M. Warren, Director of the Office of American Republic Affairs.
  2. The Department had received 14 affirmative replies from the 16 American republics consulted.