141. Telegram 657 from Tegucigalpa, March 131

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Embassy telegrams 652, 653.

President this afternoon listened quietly to recital of concern re threats to stability GOH from Hondurans, many militant oppositionists to government but many also sincere anti-communists who fear what they consider to be government’s toleration or even encouragement of communist and Castrista activities. I emphasized danger of this anti-communist crusade becoming identified as an anti-Villeda Morales crusade and suggested moment had arrived for action to be taken which would make clear to any observer the anti-communist, anti-Castro position of his administration.

President indicated full awareness of problem and of sincere concern many people as well as of campaign being waged by enemies. Said action is being taken and will be continued against illegal communist activities; referred specifically to closure of Tribuna Popular and planned closure of other similar publications which he said will be forcibly maintained despite cries in name of freedom of press which he assumes will arise from leftist quarters. He referred to temporary haven being offered Cuban refugees through issuance visas in Havana by Honduran Ambassador and said demands of those who are calling for expulsion these refugees on grounds their anti-Castro activities will be ignored. Other steps will be taken which will make clear his government’s position and which will satisfy true anti-communists; these steps will be short of driving PCH underground, which he considers ineffectual move in country like Honduras.

When I asked Villeda Morales about Cuban consulate in Puerto [Facsimile Page 2] Cortes he reflected surprise; telephoned acting foreign minister who verified consulate functioning on provisional exequatur with 11 employees; and instructed immediate (this afternoon) withdrawal exequatur. Said no Cuban consulate has legitimate business in Honduras and expressed determination ascertain how exequatur issued without his knowledge.

I spoke of uniforms which have been seen here (Embassy telegram 652) and which are being used to “prove” communist infiltration. Presi[Typeset Page 349]dent again demonstrated surprise but said he assumed they came from Cuba and if this could be established he would break relations immediately.

President expressed belief no division in armed forces. Said Colonel Lopez had told him of report GOES was concerned re situation in Honduras and was planning corrective action. Villeda Morales had called on highly-placed Salvadoran friend for report on this and had received today coded message which he read me denying any such concern or planned move by GOES but repeating reports Nicaraguan money passing through Salvadoran hands for use with Honduran military for subversive purposes. Message also conveyed warning re activities in Puerto Cortes which VM associated with news I had given him re Cuban consulate that place.

President’s attitude today was in contrast, his usual relaxed dismissal of problems as of no importance. Although nothing was achieved in terms of break in relations with Cuba, closure of consulate in Puerto Cortes, largest official Cuban establishment in Honduras, would be first concrete action against Castro.

  1. President Villeda Morales informed about threats to stability of his government. Secret. 2 pp. DOS, CF, 715.00/3–1361.