83. Memorandum From the Deputy Director of the Office of Middle American Affairs (Stewart) to the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Rubottom)1


  • Honduran Political Situation

Ambassador Willauer reports an upsurge of political activity in Honduras following the announcement that Constituent Assembly elections are to be held September 21. He feels that the holding of free elections is of great importance but he fears that a plot may be hatched by the military to prevent this. He recommends that he come to the Department in a few weeks for consultation on the situation.

The attached Memorandum2 discusses the information in Ambassador Willauer’s Despatches 309 and 312 of May 31 and June 3.3 The political background and outlook are also discussed along with recommendations for U.S. action. The principal points are: The possible re-emergence of General Carias’ political power through an alliance with the Military. The recent Velasquez’ “plot” may give the military an excuse to arrest “suspects”. Villeda’s popularity and confidence in his ability to become President were evident during his recent visit to Honduras; he is seeking a deal with the Nationalists. The Ambassador has suggested the importance of drafting a good electoral law and the possibility of using the Civil Defense structure and the emergency fund to supervise elections. The Junta’s authority is not believed strong but it may continue to govern on sufferance. Political rivalries are so deep-seated that a compromise between parties in the national interest may be difficult. The role of the military in the political struggle is still undefined but Minister of Defense Lopez is being watched with increasing concern by those who fear a military dictatorship. An analysis of the political parties shows that the Liberals have the greatest popular support but the least potential military support. The Nationalists have the greatest potential military support but are a poor second in popularity. The present atmosphere of uncertainty favors the Communists who have increased their potential under the Junta but who still are not a decisive factor. Honduras’ fundamental political problem is how to [Page 183] achieve responsible, constitutional government along democratic, representative lines and whether this can be achieved through free elections.


The U.S. inform Villeda that our policy of non-intervention precludes an announcement that we will not recognize a government which is not freely elected.
We should scrupulously avoid statements or actions which could be interpreted as intervention in Honduras’ internal affairs.
We should maintain regular contact with all political elements and take occasion to express our interest in democratic, responsible government and our policy of non-intervention.
We should concur in Ambassador Willauer’s request for consultation, his visit to be timed for early or mid-July.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central America Files: Lot 61 D 110, Chronological File. Confidential. Initialed by Rubottom indicating his approval.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Neither printed. (Department of State, Central Files, 715.00/5–3157 and Ibid., 601.1511/6–357)