The Ambassador in Venezuela (Corrigan) to the Secretary of State
[Received July 20—1:05 a.m.]
366. Mytels 364 July 19, 7 p.m. and 365 July 19, 8 p.m.12 Dawson and I this evening at Miraflores gave Betancourt and Vargas account of former’s conversation with López Contreras.
Betancourt remarked that López’s utterances did not jibe with events of yesterday when 7 persons were arrested locally and one in San Cristóbal suspected of involvement in revolutionary plot. Vargas then interposed that Junta had no evidence connecting López with plot.
Junta members said 2 Copei13 leaders, Fleury Cuello and Asa Sánchez, 3 others and Father Moncada, Catholic priest ex-army chaplain, had been involved in plotting locally with Picón Lares acting as intermediary for Rangel Lamus now in Cúcuta and other exiled Lopecista leaders; man arrested in San Cristóbal was young son of Rangel Lamus acting as courier.
Vargas volunteered that Caldera and Lorenza Fernández of Copei were opposed to violence and had consequently left country at this [Page 1303] juncture to avoid possible appearance of responsibility but that some other Copei leaders wanted violence.
Betancourt and Vargas both asserted that revolution would have no chance of success and that they were sure of Army from which disloyal elements have been gradually eliminated. Both commented that city was quiet, which seems to be true.
Betancourt informed me that decree setting elections for either September 22 or October 5 would be issued tomorrow by Junta and that Constituent Assembly would meet October 18.
Betancourt said he would think over possibilities of a gesture toward López and talk to me on subject again after return from his trip. He stated that review of jury of civil and administrative responsibility cases was being considered to be undertaken whether by Junta itself or group of distinguished nonpartisan men.
He expressed interest in seeing Lleras Camargo in Barranquilla (Lleras intimated to Dawson that he would probably go there and press today confirms this). Betancourt also intimated Eduardo Santos might meet him in Barranquilla. This would be desirable because of Santos equanimity, close friendship with López and respect in which Betancourt holds him.