142. Telegram 705 from Tegucigalpa, April 31

[Facsimile Page 1]

Department telegram 415.

Although it may be possible President Villeda Morales is simply putting on as good a show as he can to impress us without going so far as to alienate completely his leftist friends, I believe he is sincere in his anti-communist protestations. In any case our tactic should be to accept his statements with open confidence they will continue to be followed by action.

Must be recognized he does have problems and does not have undivided support from any group. Thus his own Liberal Party while supporting him as President contains elements who are actively concerned with their own candidacy for next election, as well as some of those very leftist elements against whom President would like to move. [Typeset Page 350] Armed forces thus far honors its commitment to defend constitutional regime but feels no personal loyalty to Villeda Morales, some would even like to see him in trouble with Nationalists and leftist members his own party. Nationalists while pressing for action against Castro, at same time and for purely political reasons question government seizure communists literature and harassment “intellectuals.”

Under these circumstances, and assuming sincerity of his motivations, President must move cautiously and along what must seem zig-zag course. Likewise, I feel US, rather than exerting [Facsimile Page 2] inflexible constant pressure, should step into breaches as they appear, pressing government to take action appropriate to moment, but keeping in mind possible counter-productiveness of too much pressure at wrong time. Villeda Morales could be toppled from either the right or the left and I fear the one nearly as much as the other.

I would hope that during the next three to six months we shall see a continuation of the hardening process which has already begun in the stance of GOH against Communism. I would hope also that the government’s political opponents of the right may be brought to the realization that whatever Villeda Morales does in this direction is to the benefit of all and that he should receive the support of all loyal Hondurans in at least this program. Their political attacks should not be designed to deflect him from anti-Communist course in order that they may continue to attack him as pro-Communist.

I would hope that Villeda Morales will continue to separate well-known Communists and leftists from their government positions. This has been begun and the President assures me he intends to continue; recognition should be given his actions, even from his political enemies and insofar as possible the Embassy will endeavor to elicit such recognition.

We can hope to see continuing progress toward an openly anti-Castro position, with perhaps even a rupture of diplomatic relations. In regard to this last, however, we must keep in mind the moral influence of Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Mexico as well as the near hero-worship of Villeda Morales for Betancourt [Facsimile Page 3] and Lleras Camargo. It would be difficult although I believe not impossible for Honduras to break with Castro in advance of at least one of these more influential LA colleagues.

I feel that the near future calls for an alert and unremitting awareness of our goals in Honduras but at the same time an ad hoc approach to action. We must be prepared to counsel, needle and press; we must also be prepared to accept at times what may appear to be dangerous vacillations. Whatever is obtained in the way of action will strengthen the moderate Liberals position and reinforce armed forces support for the Villeda Morales administration if they (and the nationalists) can [Typeset Page 351] be brought to recognize the constructive nature of those actions. At the same time, of course, Villeda Morales must be brought to realize the danger that is present in the armed forces belief that they are being destroyed by the Liberals in favor of the Guardia Civil. This I shall keep clearly in mind in any conversations I have with the President and leading members of his party.

Above represents present analysis of situation; changes or refinements will be conveyed to Department as developing situation may require.

  1. Embassy assessment of President Villeda Morales’ anti-Communist position. Secret. 3 pp. DOS, CF, 715.00/4–361.