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

No. 870

Sir: I have the honor to refer to my cablegram dated September 20, 10 a.m. reporting the organization of a new political party in Guatemala.

I am now informed that this party is completely organized; that it is called “The Progressive Party of Guatemala”, and that it will, under certain conditions begin its activities within a short time.

It appears that for some time past a number of important newspapers in the United States have been publishing articles similar to the one which I transmit herewith,4 and although President Cabrera exerts every effort to prevent the introduction into this Republic of such matter, the news invariably reaches here and is widely circulated.

Implicit confidence in the accuracy of these reports appears to exist—and many Guatemalans have expressed their pleasure over the prospect of the termination of Cabrera’s rule at the end of the present term.

That the commencement of the activities of the Progressive Party seems to be conditional upon confirmation of the reported attitude of the Government of the United States toward President Cabrera, or upon the receipt of assurances that members of the Party will be shielded from violence should they attempt to participate in the coming “elections “of Deputies to the National Assembly, is indicated by the following memorandum left at this Legation by one of the new party:

“The Progressive Party of Guatemala, based on the approval by Guatemala of the Treaty of Peace, and the League of Nations covenant, and the declaration made by the State Department of the United States of America to the Government of Guatemala, providing that the President of the Republic could not be a Candidate at the next elections and that honest and free elections will be held.

Judging that for the sake of our party, and for the result of the Presidential elections, the nominations of members of Congress to be held next December, is of the utmost and perhaps decisive importance on the final result of the Presidential campaign; our party [Page 269] asks from the American Government, if it can take an active part, for the elections of Congressmen, as a preparatory work of the presidential campaign and if the American Government would guarantee the compliance by the present Government, of the Laws of the Country, and the protection offered by the same laws to citizens who will take an active part in the campaign. Without this assurance it would be useless to attempt any work of this kind as all persons who would do so would immediately be imprisoned and tortured as has always been done. The laws of the country grant the freedom of speech and the press, and the Progressive Party of Guatemala asks the American Government if it can count on its support for the fulfillment of these rights”.

It was stated by the person who presented the foregoing memorandum that in December one half of the present Legislative body surrender office, and are replaced, in theory, by popular election; that in actual practice President Cabrera selects the men he desires to be seated in the Assembly and on “election” day, leads the voters of each district, under guard, to the polls where they are instructed to vote for the President’s candidate—who invariably is the sole candidate. The desire of the Progressive Party is to publish a newspaper and put forth suitable candidates for the Assembly, and endeavor to force free elections through giving publicity to any attempt to coerce the voters.

I have made no comment upon the matter.

I have [etc.]

Walter C. Thurston
  1. Not printed.