814.00/303: Telegram

The Chargé in Guatemala (Thurston) to the Acting Secretary of State

See my telegram of May 12, 3 [5] p.m. and May 5, 4 p.m. Last night and this morning groups of students and women called at the Legation reporting the arrest of Bishop Pinol and requesting the intervention of the Legation in his behalf because they fear he will be killed or brutally treated. They state that they appeal to the Legation because the United States stands for liberty and justice and is the only power to which President Cabrera will listen. In each case I have informed the petitioners that inasmuch as the bishop is a citizen of Guatemala the matter is one in which I can take no action. There is great indignation among the better classes and I have just [been] visited by more than a hundred women of the highest Guatemalan social element. I am advised other delegations will call during the day.

The newspapers have begun a series of obviously Government inspired attacks on the bishop, not disavowing any statements made by him, but seeking to discredit him personally.

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I am maintaining strictly disinterested attitude since any indication of sympathy with the bishop or the reform movement advocated by him would be at once construed by the general public opinion which is [agreed] secretly, but almost unanimously, in acquitting the bishop, as indicating tacit official approval of any movement they might start.

I do not believe the President will risk injury [to] Pinol, but that he will most likely deport him. In that event, I anticipate no further agitation here since, with the exception of the women, the people are abjectly afraid of the President.

Please instruct me immediately regarding any action I should take in the matter and if I am to grant asylum at the Legation should it be requested by anyone persecuted by the President in conjunction with this present political agitation.