360. Telegram From the Embassy in Honduras to the Department of State and the Embassy in El Salvador1

4454. San Salvador for Ambassador Bowdler. Subj: Interim Government: Trying to Get Liberals and Military Together. Ref: Tegucigalpa 4435 (Notal).2

1. (C-Entire text)

2. I followed up my morning session with Liberals (reftel) by meeting with General Paz evening of July 21. Paz said he is waiting for Liberals to call him, while latter are waiting on General. I did all I could to get Paz and Liberals together, short of hosting a meeting myself. I believe that Liberals and military actually met last night but do not yet know whether agreement was reached which would permit Assembly to name Paz as President today.

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3. I told Paz I met with Liberals to review rumors that Liberals were planning to name Suazo rather than Paz President. I reported to Paz that Liberals firmly denied that they are maneuvering in any way against Paz and are only waiting to hear from him on Cabinet, so that Paz may be elected.

4. I mentioned speculation that PINU might propose “civic-military” junta as alternative to Suazo as President. Paz felt that PINU itself was behind this rumor and may indeed have provoked alarm that Liberals are trying to elect Suazo.

5. In answer to my question, Paz replied that he is having no problem with his military colleagues. He is convinced that military would support his decision.

6. Paz said that the Liberals have not called him. He noted that Liberals are very worried about Cabinet positions, and admitted that National Party had benefitted greatly with jobs it received during military rule. Paz was concerned that Liberals do not want to define the timeframe for new elections. He was fearful that Liberals would try to provoke elections much earlier than might be possible and wise. (Military have proposed October of 1981.)

7. I informed Paz that the Liberals are anxious to know the names of key Ministers, particularly Finance, and Communications and Public Works, so that Paz may be elected July 22.3 Paz stated that he has not come up with names of apolitical, honest, wealthy individuals for these two key Ministries. Paz was also worried about change at Central Bank, which he felt would affect country’s financial standing.

8. I most strongly urged Paz to get in touch with Liberals, or use an intermediary to let Liberals know he is ready to meet at once. I had earlier underlined need for military not to appear responsible for failing to reach an agreement with Liberals, when it had appeared that Paz and Suazo had agreed days earlier. Paz confirmed impression that agreement had all but been reached (but it appears Paz is having trouble coming up with individuals for key posts). I stressed that no one would be able to believe that stability of country was being jeopardized because Liberals and military could not get together.

9. Paz appeared ready to make effort to meet Liberals promptly.

10. After seeing Paz, I talked to Liberal leader Carlos Flores and told him that I met with Paz who was equally anxious to meet with Liberals. I pushed strongly for Liberals to get in touch with Paz. Flores promised to try and said he would call me immediately if meeting did [Page 892] not rpt not take place. I assume therefore that Liberals and military got together last night. They will also have almost all day July 22, before Assembly convenes in late afternoon.

11. Comment: Reftel speculated that military, perhaps egged on by Ricardo Zuniga, might have spread rumors that Liberals might name Suazo as President. Paz suspects that PINU (Miguel Andonie) may have been responsible for rumors in order to resurrect PINU hopes that a junta be named which would include PINU.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800352–0271. Confidential; Immediate; Exdis.
  2. Telegram 4435 from Tegucigalpa, July 21, reported that the National Constituent Assembly “opened July 20 in presence all Deputies, the military Junta, Superior Defense Council and all Ministers.” The Embassy also noted that Suazo was sworn in as President of the Assembly and that Jaramillo also met with several Liberal Party leaders on July 21. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800350–0445)
  3. In telegram 4563 from Tegucigalpa, July 25, the Embassy reported that the Honduran Constituent Assembly elected Paz as interim President the afternoon of July 25. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800358–0100)