155. Telegram 84 to Tegucigalpa, 134 to Guatemala City, 69 to Managua, 143 to Panama, 111 to San Jose, and 81 to San Salvador, September 301
INFO: POLAD CINCSO. POLAD CINCLANT.
Re rumors impending coup Honduras.
Department extremely concerned recent reports that Chief Honduran Armed Forces Lopez planning coup, and desires bring all feasible pressure on Lopez and civilians and military pushing him toward coup. If possible, neighboring countries especially Nicaragua and El Salvador should be persuaded disavow promise any support for Lopez. Though Guatemalan regime least likely disavow Lopez fact remains Peralta [Typeset Page 375] and his followers have recently given indication of wish return to some form of constitutionality and normal political activity. President Rivera should be aware that military coup in Honduras would not, repeat not, necessarily strengthen his hand in El Salvador. If report Managua 115 correct President Schick is prepared state publicly his support of constitutionally elected presidents. Presidents Villeda and Orlich have sent President Kennedy telegram expressing their concern regarding overthrow Bosch and their hope that upcoming declaration of Central America would strengthen support [Facsimile Page 2] of constitutionally elected regimes. Reply is being prepared and effort will be made obtain permission Orlich and Villeda to publish exchange unless declaration, which Department understands not yet agreed to, comes out in meantime and provides suitable public peg for further press statements here in Washington.
Department believes another key to situation is meeting, (Tegucigalpa’s 145, September 26) of Villeda, Rodas, Lopez, OAS Electoral Commission and President Electoral Council which was scheduled but has been put off. Anything that can be done to get this meeting to take place would be useful. Such a meeting would, it seems, be more useful than meeting merely Villeda and Lopez. Coordinated use of army and Guardia Civil forces to guard elections as was done in 1962 municipal elections should be possible.
Another key to situation is to create doubt in Lopez’ mind that typical easy, bloodless Latin American coup possible; doubt regarding his ability to win prolonged, bloody coup; doubt regarding his own future in such situation; similar doubts in minds those military and civilians pushing Lopez toward coup.
Department getting in touch with Jorge Bueso and after discussion with him may suggest he return immediately Honduras attempt intervene between Lopez and Rodistas.
Department does not believe any OAS action possible. Department could keep major US interests in Honduras such as United and Standard Fruit informed [Facsimile Page 3] of its strong view of calamity we think would befall Honduras and these companies as well if coup were to occur. Can companies get to people who are pushing Lopez? Embassy Tegucigalpa comments requested. In its discretion Embassy Tegucigalpa should take action outlined and in addition impress on Villeda that his failure to control Lopez at this critical point could cause him lose respect of Betancourt, Orlich and other democratic forces in Central and South America as well as U.S. Government. Villeda close relationship with Lopez and hatred of Rodas being well known, Villeda must be persuaded to insist on constitutionality.
Embassies other Central American countries and Panama should, in their discretion, take steps outlined above.[Typeset Page 376]
Tegucigalpa wire soonest names those persons, especially civilians, pressing Lopez for coup. If coup occurs would any moderate nationalists be in government, or would civilian participation be limited mainly to PPP rpt PPP?
- Rumors about impending coup in Honduras. Secret. 3 pp. DOS, CF, POL 26 HOND.↩