731.00/12–552

Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs ( Miller ) to the Secretary of State 1

secret

Subject:

  • Venezuelan situation.

Elections were held on Sunday, November 30, for a Constituent Assembly which will meet January 10 to review the acts of the governing Junta during the past four years, to draw up a constitution, to establish the procedure for election of a President, and to choose a provisional President to serve in the interim. Voting (by colored cards for party slates) was compulsory for all persons twenty-one years of age or above regardless of literacy, and elections took place in an orderly, quiet manner under the supervision of the Armed Forces. Early returns showed URD (leftist, non-Communist, rather nationalist) leading more than two to one. Principal Army officers then decided they would not under any circumstances turn over the Government to URD. Accordingly, the elections have evidently been rigged so that later returns, still incomplete, show the Government party, FEI, well in the lead.

The three-man governing Junta presented its resignation December 3 to the Armed Forces which appointed it in 1948 and which has now named Col. Marcos Pérez Jiménez (strong man of the Junta) provisional President. The only Cabinet changes were the replacement of [Page 1636] the Minister of Interior2 (who was also a member of the Junta) and the removal of the Junta Secretary3 who was suspected of plotting with the opposition. The Foreign Minister on Tuesday evening requested our continuance of relations in accordance with Bogota Resolution 35,4 and Ambassador Warren recommended this action. We feel the question of recognition is not involved, and have instructed him to continue relations through a routine call if satisfied that no influential group of American republics are planning to raise this question or delay action.

It is not yet clear whether Pérez Jiménez will succeed in maintaining the support of the Armed Forces or in making a deal acceptable to the principal legal opposition parties, URD and COPEI. Nevertheless, the opposition called a general strike for noon December 4 claiming that the Government failed to recognize its victory at the polls. Scanty reports thus far received indicate that the general strike has not met with much success. We may expect criticism of the U.S. Government both from elements in Venezuela and in the U.S. for any action which may be interpreted as support of the military government’s apparent overriding of election results. However, there is no other course to follow than the continuation of normal relations under present circumstances.5

  1. Drafted by Bainbridge C. Davis of the Office of South American Affairs, and initialed by Director of the Office Atwood.
  2. Luis Felipe Llovera Páez, who was succeeded by Laureano Vallenilla Lanz.
  3. Miguel Moreno.
  4. For text, see Ninth International Conference of American States, Bogotá, Colombia March 30–May 2, 1948: Report of the Delegation of the United States of America With Related Documents (Department of State Publication 3263, Washington, November 1948), p. 271.
  5. No record of the Secretary’s action on this memorandum was found in Department of State files; diplomatic relations with Venezuela, however, were continued without interruption.