The Officer in Charge of Central America and Panama Affairs (Leddy) to the Ambassador in Honduras (Erwin)
Dear Mr. Ambassador: An important part of the problem created by Communist influence in Guatemala is the need to strengthen other Central American countries economically so as to increase their capacity of resistance to subversive infiltration. We have long been in total agreement with this principle, and taken many steps to implement broad programs in Honduras. At the present time, we are faced with a review of possibilities for enlarging and making more effective such programs in the economic sphere.
It is natural to think of TCA as the existing organization to carry out these objectives. The Department desires, however, to consult with you informally in order to obtain your advice as to specific lines along which we could propose increases to the present TCA program, on a significant scale. The subject of Honduran economic needs has received study by various agencies. What is now desired is an expression of your views, based on the overall picture which you have seen from your own observation and experience.
As a concrete suggestion, it appears to me that the road construction would probably be the primary channel of increased assistance. No industrial development appears feasible, and the field of technical assistance seems limited necessarily to agriculture, public health, education and government service. TCA has proposed a budget for fiscal year 1955 at $1,048,200 as against the 1954 budget of $855,900; and a corresponding increase to 38 American technicians as against 29. This does not represent an increase on the visible scale which is an objective of the present inquiry.
I hesitate to propose any precise project but in discussions here have come across the following possibilities: (1) aid in present construction of a highway from Tegucigalpa to a junction with the Inter-American Highway at Jicaro Galan on the western coast; failure to route the Inter-American to the capital city has so far blocked Honduran accession to the Inter-American Highway Agreement, so that aid on the present job might bring Honduras into the fold on this project. (2) Aid on the proposed road from Salvadoran border near Nueva Ocotepeque in Honduras to Santa Rosa de Copan, present terminus of the Honduran Western Highway, to provide a western road link with Puerto Cortes. In addition, it might be possible to interest El Salvador in extension of the road across the border and to run on to the Pacific side, so as to provide a cross-isthmus highway.[Page 1303]
It is my understanding that President Galvez has been interested in the Western Highway. This might be a factor assuring Honduran cooperation on any extensive assistance the United States might be able to offer, which is now purely tentative.
As you will see from the foregoing, the purpose is not only to produce results economically beneficial to Honduras, but of such significance and tangible proportions as to be noteworthy by Guatemala. I have been directed to present this inquiry to you in these broad terms in the hope that your own observations and experience, as well as those of your staff, might be synthesized for suitable presentation by the Department. Any enlarged program of economic assistance will of course require substantial special appropriations, probably apart from TCA. If the Embassy should recommend specifically what projects might be undertaken by Honduras with United States financial assistance, with as exact as possible an estimate of the cost involved, the Department would be able to work out a “package plan” when, in the near future, an opportunity may arise for a high level review of our Central American problems.1
- No reply to this letter was found in Department of State files.↩