Memorandum of Conversation, by the Chief of the Division of Central America and Panama Affairs (Newbegin)

Participants: Sr. Francisco de P. Gutiérrez, Costa Rican Ambassador
Mr. Paul C. Daniels, Director for ARA
Robert Newbegin—CPA

Ambassador Gutiérrez called this afternoon to leave a memorandum explaining the legal angle of the congressional annulment of the recent [Page 492] Costa Rican election in which Ulate was declared the victor. He explained briefly the subsequent political developments touching specifically upon Ulate’s determination not to seek asylum, his temporary detention in the military barracks, and finally the action of Archbishop Sanabria and Ambassador Davis in accompanying Ulate on his release. He said that Ambassador Davis’ role had been gratifying to the Costa Rican Government and was, of course, beyond reproach.

Ambassador Gutiérrez stated that, according to information which he had received in a telephone conversation with his daughter in San José, a meeting was being held this afternoon in the Archbishop’s residence participated in by Ulate, Calderon Guardia, and Mora,1 the leaders of the three political parties. He expected an agreement to arise from this meeting in which a first designate to the presidency would be selected2—a man agreeable to all parties, and one who could act in the best interests of Costa Rica. He expressed the opinion that no further election would be held since there was insufficient time to do so before April 1 which was the legal date. Accordingly, when a new administration came into existence, the first presidential designate would take office. Ambassador Gutiérrez apparently discounted any disagreement in the selection of a first designate.3

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R[obert] N[ewbegin]
  1. Manuel Mora Valverde, Secretary General of the Vanguardia Popular party.
  2. In despatch 105, March 5, not printed, Ambassador Davis noted that while Congress invalidated the presidential elections, it did not call for new ones, hence, the course of action most likely to be followed would be the election of three alternates at the opening session of Congress on May 1, and, in absence of a “legally elected” president, it would then become incumbent upon the first alternate to assume the presidency on May 8.
  3. In despatch 105, March 5, Ambassador Davis stressed the concurrence of opinion that something had to be done soon to break the deadlock; the Calderon–Vanguardia group, he said, was definitely known not to be averse to a compromise and that attempts to reach such a compromise through the mediation of prominent citizens were known to have been under way since shortly after the elections; Mr. Ulate, however, and the group immediately surrounding him, remained adamant, believing that by just biding time they could eventually achieve their objective.