715.00/9–2454

The Ambassador in Honduras (Willauer) to the Department of State 1

top secret
No. 125

Attention: Under Secretary Smith; Assistant Secretary Woodward

Ref:

  • Deptel 53, September 23, 6:00 p.m.;2 Embtel 77, September 24, 1954.3

Subject:

  • Honduran Electoral Situation.

Until this morning it appeared likely that a coalition would be formed between Reformists and Liberals. This is the latest in a series of possible coalitions which I have been actively encouraging in an attempt to prevent serious troubles concurrent with or after the October 10 Presidential and Congressional elections in Honduras. As of the moment negotiations have completely broken down but the on-again-off-again history of the last few weeks makes it possible to continue to have some hope, although I must admit that my hopes are currently at their lowest ebb.

The Carías Nationalists, the Williams 4 Reformists and the Villeda Morales 5 Liberals for the moment seem determined to proceed to the elections without coalition. Almost all Honduran and dipomatic sources continue prophesies of serious trouble. These range in degree of gloom from creation of the groundwork for a Guatemala-type ultimate Communist domination, through a Galvez “golpe de estado”, to armed uprising by dissident Cariistas or Liberals or at the very least a chaotic situation with bloodshed and general disruption of politics and economics. For reasons stated below I am personally becoming less pessimistic than the average opinion.

I have been extremely active along two lines: First, I have been privately propagandizing for peace, pointing out affirmatively the opportunities for Honduras’ growth in a peaceful atmosphere and negatively, the dangers of a flight of capital which might possibly include a decrease of the fruit companies’ operations and would certainly mean that the incoming regime would inherit a world of headaches. Second, I have had extensive and frequent personal and frank talks with all three candidates and the principal leaders of their parties. These men have sought my advice and good offices in discussing various forms of coalition. All of the foregoing has been done at the direct request of [Page 1314]President Galvez and has been coordinated with him and Foreign Minister Valenzuela.6 I believe that at the very least the net result of these efforts has been to decrease the likelihood of the most serious of the results prophesied above but my forecast for the future is still gloomy. The inherent selfishness of all three candidates and their cohorts and their very narrowness when it comes to considering their own political future makes the situation inherently one where a completely desirable result is impossible.

In exercising the influence of the United States in these discussions I am doing my utmost to conduct myself in a manner so that we can preserve sufficient good will among all political elements for the purpose of curative measures in any future troubles. I have been facilitated in this by having been called into negotiations involving every possible combination of coalition, and thus have prevented any truthful accusation of taking sides.

The latest possibility of a Reformist–Liberal coalition still appears the most likely of any but I repeat that the chances are not too good. The Reformists and Liberals are mainly kept apart by the personal stubbornness of candidates Williams and Villeda Morales and, indeed, all three candidates and their inner circles appear hypnotized by their own overstated predictions of sweeping success at the polls.

I believe most probably all three parties will go to to the polls and no party will achieve the absolute majority required by the Constitution. This will force the election into the new Congress which meets December 1. However, the Congress can only act if it has a two-thirds quorum. The decision before the Congress will be the choice of a President and Vice President from two out of the three candidates who poll the most popular votes. This requirement, plus the then known relative political power of the parties will tend to promote a coalition between the deputies representing the third candidate and one of the two other candidates. This will be especially true because the alternative to finding a quorum and deciding the matter in Congress is the choice of President by the Carías-dominated Supreme Court (presumably between the first and second place candidates) or Galvez’ continuance in power. Galvez could possibly do this legally by declaring that the electoral laws prohibiting fraud, etc., had been violated.

Galvez is still privately considering a “golpe de estado” before or after the elections but he is personally profoundly averse to this course and will act only in the most extreme circumstances. I believe, however, that his continuance would receive great popular acceptance. Galvez, the man, as President would be more desirable than any of the other three candidates. However, his continuance would cause a [Page 1315]period of uncertainty and of intense political activity before the permanent form of leadership could emerge. Thus, my preference is for a Reformist–Liberal merger. Among other things I feel that this would present the best possible climate for destruction of Communist elements. I believe this first because the Reformists and many good Liberal elements have avowed their intention to root out Communism and, second, because if the Liberal Party achieves partial participation in the Government it will be less likely to welcome Communist support than if it is left out in the cold completely.

Whiting Willauer
  1. Drafted by Ambassador Willauer.
  2. The referenced telegram requested the Embassy’s latest evaluation of the domestic political situation in Honduras (715.00/9–2354).
  3. Not printed (715.00/9–2354).
  4. Abraham Williams Calderón.
  5. Ramón Villeda Morales.
  6. J. Edgardo Valenzuela.