651. Telegram 1727 From the Embassy in El Salvador to the Department of State1 2

[Page 1]

For USOAS/Jova from Ford and Poole


  • Salvadoran-Honduran Dispute


  • San Salvador 1714

Following are our thoughts on what we should try to achieve in upcoming Foreign Ministers’ meeting on Honduran-Salvadoran conflict:

1. At issue are not only restoration of peace between these countries and equitable settlement of their dispute, but also authority of inter-American system and its future effectiveness. Salvador not only occupies its neighbor’s territory but also stands in defiance of OAS—neither of which can be tolerated if inter-American system is to survive as an effective peace keeping mechanism.

2. Together with cease fire, withdrawal of troops and return to status quo ante bellum is an absolute and urgent [Page 2] requirement under Article 7 of Rio Treaty, as invoked in this case in operative paragraph 2 of Resolution I of COAS/OC. These are not negotiable factors, regardless of merits of other issues. (To permit otherwise would obviously set most unfortunate precedent for the hemisphere.) Hence we see no justification for extending period for withdrawal beyond absolute minimum for orderly physical accomplishment and even less for including withdrawal in package to be mediated, whether by new mediator or CA FonMins. (48 hours should be sufficient time for withdrawal, with OAS observers in place to supervise orderly turn-over.)

3. After GOES defiance COAS/OC “firm” decision and deadline for withdrawal, any further delay by Ministers themselves would present dismal picture indeed. In order to show that this time OAS means business and that further defiance will not be tolerated, there seems no alternative than to declare in MFM resolution that any defiance would be met by appropriate measures under Article 8—unless there if firm indication made in advance by GOES that it will withdraw immediately. We see no need for Ministers themselves to stipulate precise measures, as resolution could instruct COAAS/OC to adopt appropriate measures immediately upon indication non-compliance.

4. While GOES could be branded aggressor on basis defiance COAS/OC resolution, this could justifiably be deferred if firm indications are that GOES will this time come to heel. Depending on such indications, intermediate steps could be to state in resolution that non-compliance with MFM withdrawal requirement would ipso facto brand Salvador as aggressor.

5. If Salvador should then defy MFM decision (which we doubt), appropriate measures under Article 8 would have to be adopted. Probably most effective would be those economic [Page 3] sanctions that would least hurt Salvador’s neighbors and, if Salvador remains defiant, formation of ad hoc inter-American peace force manned by Latin American and supported by US transport and logistics. Probably mere creation on paper of IAPC would be sufficient to bring Salvador to terms.

6. Assuming GOES is reconciled to accepting MFM withdrawal order, there is nothing to prevent same or companion resolution from including elements more palatable to it, perhaps with proposal that mediators thereafter offer assistance in working out and implementing arrangements in such fields as:

(A) Refugee return (to be agreed in principle by GOH for categories to be determined, with expectation few would accept).

(B) Resettlement and integration displaced and internal Salvadoran nationals, perhaps with OAS assistance.

(C) Study of convention (perhaps for all CA) on immigration and reciprocal rights.

(D) Continued OAS presence for time being.

While AmEmbassies San Salvador and Tegucigalpa are far better judges than we, our view is that positive programs such as those above should be proposed rather than negative or punitive measures.

7. We do not like idea of changing date of status quo ante bellum from July 14 to June 15 since latter was clearly not “war” within meaning of Article 7. This would open up questions of fuzzy interpretation and tend to place blame for troubles on Honduras, which latter could hardly be expected to accept.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL EL SAL–HOND. Confidential; Immediate. Repeated Immediate to Tegucigalpa, and to San José, Guatemala City, Managua, Panama City, USCINCSO, USUN, and USCINCSO for POLAD. In telegram 127214 to Tokyo, July 30, the Department of State reported that at the July 29 OAS meeting, Salvadoran Foreign Minister Guerrero stated that El Salvador would withdraw its troops from Honduran territory. (Ibid.)
  2. The Embassy offered its thoughts on U.S. objectives for the OAS Foreign Ministers meeting on the Honduran–Salvadoran conflict.