158. Memorandum of conversation between Foreign Minister Perdomo, Finance Minister Bueso, and Ambassador Dávila, and Cottrell and other U.S. officials1

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  • Honduras


  • His Excellency Dr. Roberto Perdomo Paredes, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Honduras;
  • His Excellency Lic. Jorge Bueso Arias, Minister of Finance of Honduras;
  • His Excellency Lic. Céleo Dávila, Ambassador of Honduras to the United States;
  • Deputy Assistant Secretary Sterling J. Cottrell;
  • Mr. Ward P. Allen, Director, Office of Inter-American Regional Political Affairs;
  • Mr. V. Lansing Collins, Director, Office of Central American and Panamanian Affairs;
  • Mr. Edward M. Rowell, Officer in Charge, Honduran Affairs.

At his request, the Honduran Ambassador in Washington called at the Department at 10:00 a.m. October 3 on instructions from President Villeda Morales, with whom he had been in telephone communication [Typeset Page 379] over the Inter-American system. The Ambassador reported on the situation in Tegucigalpa saying that the Presidential Palace was surrounded, there were 50 dead, many wounded, and that considerable fighting and a blood bath could follow.

Pointing out that the United States had, at least in the press, declared in connection with the Dominican Republic coup [Facsimile Page 2] that military coups against constitutional governments were disastrous for the whole continent and that the United States backed constitutional and representative government, he hoped we could put pressure on Lopez to persuade him to stop the coup because Lopez probably believed that the State Department and the Pentagon had different policies. Mr. Collins pointed out to the Ambassador at this point that following our conversation several days ago several efforts had been made to make it clear to Lopez that there was no difference in United States policy. He said that the Army Attaché had called upon Lopez and delivered a message from the Pentagon and that yesterday General Bogart had flown up from the Canal Zone to talk to Lopez. We were forced to conclude that pressure on Lopez of this nature was not successful.

The Ambassador went on to note that there was an advantage in the Honduran situation that had not existed in the Dominican Republic, namely that Villeda Morales is still in the Palace, has not been given an ultimatum, has had no contact with Lopez, and is still President. The coup has not been completely consummated as yet. Asked for concrete suggestions, the Ambassador admitted that he had no instructions to work through the OAS. He said he had no confirmation of any interference by Nicaragua or Guatemala since Lopez had all the force that he needed. He said that since Villeda Morales was still President he hoped the United States could get out a declaration stressing our preoccupation with democracy and the tenets of Punta del Este, stating it would not recognize a military regime in Tegucigalpa if it were set up and that such a regime could not get any help from us of any kind. Reminded of the recent Central American Declaration the Foreign Minister pointed out that really all it meant was that the Governments agreed to consult each other before recognizing a regime established by military force. Mr. Cottrell told the Ambassador that it was very difficult to get a firm policy in a few minutes and that we planned to tell the press at noon only the facts of the take-over. He added we would consider this matter and be in touch with them later. The Hondurans then made two more points: 1. That further discussion regarding the Swan Islands scheduled for October 4 be postponed and 2. that since communication with Honduras through the Honduran Embassy might be cut off we keep the Honduran Embassy informed of events. Both points were agreed to.

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The Ambassador and Foreign Minister then left but Jorge Bueso remained behind. He told Mr. Collins and Mr. Rowell that the President [Typeset Page 380] had made it very clear to him on the phone that he expected the Ambassador to go through the motions mentioned above but that what he was really counting on was action by the United States. The President had said that he could hold out in the Palace for two or three days awaiting such action but that if it was clear that nothing was going to be done he would try and make an arrangement with Lopez.

  1. Request for U.S. assistance in holding back ongoing coup. Confidential. 3 pp. DOS, CF, POL 26 HOND.