The Ambassador in Costa Rica ( Johnson ) to the Secretary of State

No. 1587

Subject: Elections Take Place with Comparative Freedom and with only very Minor Instances of Violence.

Sir: …

President Picado did his utmost personally to secure free elections and this fact has been noted even in the Opposition press. At an informal interview with the President this morning he hold me that he was very pleased with the result of his efforts to perpetuate democratic processes and to have free elections without violence. He [Page 691] added that he was very grateful to me for the moral strength I had given him in personal conversations regarding honestly conducted elections. He also thanked me for the informal suggestion I made to him a week ago regarding the possibility of a “fireside chat” over the radio with the people of Costa Rica regarding his intentions of maintaining the freedom of elections and his desire to avoid violence of any kind. (The President did speak over the radio on the evening before election day, my despatch, February 11, 1946, No. 158623)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

I have been most careful not to give even the semblance of interfering in internal politics, but within this principle and within the instructions of the Department I have done what little was possible to encourage free elections and a peaceful solution of political difficulties. My suggestion to the President regarding radio speech appears to have been helpful in obtaining the desired results. It will be recalled that several months ago upon my return from leave of absence I gave a press conference with the express authority of the Department in which I touched upon freedom of elections. I have also taken occasion to talk informally and personally with the leaders of all the political parties and have emphasized the great respect with which Costa Rica is regarded in the United States and in Europe, because of the stability of its Government and truly democratic processes maintained in Costa Rica.

A week before the elections I caused to be published in the local press the radio conversation in which Mr. Ellis Briggs24 was quoted as saying that we feel a greater friendship toward those governments which are based upon the approbation, freely and periodically expressed, of the governed. In the preamble to the quotations contained in the article it was stated that the American people heartily believe in peaceful and democratic processes.

I believe that within the very definite bounds of what diplomatic officers may say, this Embassy has contributed something to the continuance of democratic processes in Costa Rica as exemplified in yesterday’s elections.

Few and minor incidents of violence took place and while there will be a considerable number of specific accusations regarding fraud, there is no doubt that the elections were conducted in a comparatively honest manner.

An analysis of the results of the elections will be forwarded immediately.

Respectfully yours,

Hallett Johnson
  1. Not printed.
  2. Director of the Office of American Republic Affairs.