Memorandum by Mr. R. Kenneth Oakley of the Division of River Plate Affairs1


The situation in Paraguay as of this morning at 10 a.m.

On the afternoon of February 26, another bloodless coup was staged and Dr. Felipe Molas López, Education Minister, became Acting President without reference, thus far at least, to the Constitutional processes followed by his immediate predecessor and by the successor last year of President Morínigo. The new government promises to go through with the elections scheduled for April 17. Dr. Molas Lopez was expected to have been the candidate for the Colorado Party, the only Party which would have been allowed to have a candidate.

Molas and his confederates in this coup are the same ones responsible for the ousting of President Morínigo in June 1948. His most powerful confederates in the present coup were responsible for the unsuccessful revolt in October 1948, after which they went into exile, returning secretly to aid in the latest maneuver. (It now appears Molas too may have been involved in the October revolt.) Molas was the principal figure in the January 30 overthrow of President González.

The one party allowed to function in Paraguay is the Colorado Party which is split into various factors [sic]. The biggest question mark at present is the position of the majority known as the “Democratic” or Chavista Colorados. One plausible explanation is that the “Democratic” Colorados were planning, together with President Rolón (just overthrown), to double-cross Molas; and that Molas and his confederates beat them to the double-cross. That would mean that the Colorado majority is out. Molas would be governing with just half the Guión Rojo, the minority of the Colorado Party, although the majority had, publicly at least, sponsored him for the Presidency.

It is still nothing more than a personal struggle for power. Military men still hold the key to the situation. There has been no indication of foreign intervention.

  1. The memorandum was drafted by Mr. Oakley and initialed by Mr. Daniels; it was addressed from the Office of American Republic Affairs to the Offices of the Secretary of State and the Assistant Secretary of State for U.N. Affairs (Rusk).