73. Letter From the Ambassador in Honduras (Willauer) to the Acting Secretary of State1
Dear Mr. Hoover: I am writing you personally despite the fact that I know you are snowed under by the international problems you are so ably handling. I am doing this because on numerous occasions you have personally shown me consideration for my own problems in running the job down here and also I know that in your former civilian capacity you had much experience in Central America.
We are at a critical juncture in the affairs of Honduras and if things don’t go right here I prophesy they won’t go right in the rest of Central America. I don’t say there will be Guatemala to do all over again but I do submit that there will be a real mess, and as you know, messes in Honduras, the center of Central America, traditionally slop over into other countries.
What has happened in essence in Honduras is that a group of the finest men in the country have taken over. This is the Junta and their supporters, military and civilian, that staged a bloodless coup on October 21. They all appear to be dedicated patriots, and most of [Page 166] them are civil leaders who have never been in politics, have gotten sick and tired of all the mess caused by personalized political ambitions in the last several generations and have “thrown out the rascals.” This, of course, they had to do with the aid of the military who to date have shown themselves to be not such a bad lot.
Through regular channels I shall be submitting next week a request for a small amount—not to exceed five million dollars—of Smathers Amendment long-range loans and/or grant-aid.2 I hope some real attention will be paid to this request because I feel that unless the economy moves forward—and this money is required for that purpose—the good civilian elements in the Government will lose ground and we will be headed for a tough, tight dictatorship which will inevitably tend to align itself with the politicos who have just been thrown out.
Let us not forget in our deliberations that we really owe Honduras something for the part she played in the overthrow of Arbenz. Incidentally, the Hondurans themselves feel this very keenly. I hasten to add that they are not making any demands but when they view all that is being done for Guatemala they are a little hurt at our apparent neglect of Honduras during its past and present crises. You will recall that at great peril to themselves they gave a home and base to Castillo Armas without which he could not have overthrown Arbenz. You will also recall that most of their current economic ills can be directly traceable to the disastrous strikes which the Communists organized and financed from Guatemala as a counter-measure to prevent the Castillo Armas attack.
Perhaps because of its size, perhaps because of its previous tranquil history, but in any event for some cause or other there has been a tendency to push the problems of Honduras into the background, in comparison to the treatment given to more dramatic problems of Guatemala or of Costa Rica and Nicaragua. I cite you two instances: On October 10, 1955 then Chief of State Lozano unsolicited walked into my office and presented me with a check for $25,000 for aid to the distressed area of Connecticut after our floods in 1955. This was in appreciation for what we did at the time of Honduras’ floods in 1954. I asked the Department for maximum publicity at home but very little was done. When I was in Connecticut visiting such a well informed man as my friend Roy Larsen, President of Time, at his farm I discovered that neither he nor his farmer had heard of this.[Page 167]
On November 12, 1956 Honduras was one of the first to offer to take Hungarian refugees. They sent a telegram directly to President Eisenhower, not knowing any other channel. Proportionately, the 100 they offered to take represented twice what the United States appears to be doing and was very early in the game. To date no acknowledgment of this gesture has been received and in the first list of the United Nations Relief Commission Honduras’ name was left off.3 There is a long list of similar apparent neglect such as in the cash purchase of planes.
For all of the foregoing reasons and for the additional reason that after all Honduras’ vote in the United Nations (which has always until now followed the United States) is important to us these days, I earnestly request a few minutes of your time to see what we can do for this very deserving Government.
With warmest personal regards, I am,
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 715.00/11–3056. Secret; Personal.↩
- The amendment to the Mutual Security Act of 1956, named after Senator George A. Smathers (D–Fla.), provided for the use of a portion of the defense support funds authorized in the Act for health, education, and sanitation projects, and for land resettlement programs in Latin America. For text of the Mutual Security Act of 1956, (Public Law 726), enacted July 18, 1956, see 70 Stat. 555.↩
- A handwritten note, “Done”, appears at this point in the source text.↩