814.00/372: Telegram

The Minister in Guatemala (McMillin) to the Secretary of State

52. Department’s 26, March 26th, 5 p.m. The negotiations reported in the Legation’s 46, March 21st, 10 a.m., between the representatives of Government and Unionist were concluded and signed March 27th. Five of these were reported in the Legation’s 48, March 25th [24], 2 p.m. The remaining four are:

In the lawsuits or criminal trials which are initiated against the persons who are considered guilty of one or two events which took place on March 11th in this capital in front of the military academy, the Executive will be watchful to see that prompt, complete justice is administered, in whatever way he is empowered and whenever the circumstances demand.
With the end in view of giving occupation, justly paid, to honorable workmen, the public works which the Government have already commenced will be carried out and new works will be begun within the limit of the public purse, there being named (as has already been commenced) commissions of honorable persons who shall have control of the payments and inspect the works. The commission so named shall be amplified with two members of the Unionist Party, proposed by the latter. The members of this committee shall be properly paid.
Access shall be given to a representation from each of the political parties which so desires to the official deliberations which have for their object the discussion of everything which relates to the union of Central America.
Elections of deputies and municipal authorities shall be held in the districts which are now vacant, and orders will be given to the authorities who supervise to insure absolute guarantees to the electors, as is provided by law.

This agreement carried out would secure the rights the Unionist[s] seek but unfortunately both parties regard it as a parley rather than a settlement.

In my conference with President after receipt of Department’s 26 March 26th, 5 p.m. I told him the proclamation he sent me utterly failed to include the guarantees required for action by me; that [Page 735] two of the Department[’s] suggestions were not mentioned and the terms not clearly enough made and I had reported its insufficiency to my Government and would not act without further instructions. He asked me to inform Department he was willing to include Department’s points which he had received verbally, some time before, in his proclamation.

With reference to the last paragraph of the Department’s 26, March 26, 5 p.m., the situation is slightly more quiet and orderly. The two meetings of committees and release of some prisoners have had that effect. The determination of the Unionist[s] and laborers to oust the President however is as fixed as ever. They do not conceal this. They are considering the appointment of a strong committee to personally place the situation before him asking him to resign with security of life and property, or they will impeach him if, as heretofore reported, Congress is favorable. They are sounding the Army and claim considerable part of it. All else failing they will revolt if conditions are sufficiently promising. A vast majority uncompromisingly oppose President and his continuance in office. His long rule has been very autocratic. What authority he lacked under the law each succeeding Congress before adjournment gave by resolution or act. What are undoubtedly well founded complaints of the people are: that under this system the Executive and the officials have interfered with the judiciary, making arrests without due process of the law and imprisoning without trial; that jefes politicos, paid inadequately, have habitually levied unlawful tribute upon the people; that the press has been muzzled and lawful political meetings prevented; that in addition to lawful export taxes irresponsible Government favorites have been allowed to sell export licenses, collecting illegal fees therefor; that through solvency certificate requirements the Executive has prevented people from selling and mortgaging their property; that citizens are harrassed and punished unnecessarily under pretense of levies for military duty. These wrongs have produced such feeling as I never have seen elsewhere against an Executive. See my telegram number 50, March 26th, 7 p.m.

Such are the nature and environments of the Executive and the exasperation and determination of the people that I believe force would be required to uphold his Government and enable him to finish his term. Unaided as he is by an Army he will be compelled to surrender his Government. The Minister of War who has been a trusted friend of the President resigned last night and has been granted asylum by the British Legation. The President and his enemies, however, having agreed upon a settlement embracing all [Page 736] the guarantees of freedom of the citizens outlined Department’s 20, March 17th, 10 a.m. [5 p.m.] I strongly recommend that the matter be left with them for the present. Under existing conditions I think it injudicious and probably useless to conclude the arrangements contemplated Department’s 21, March 18, 5 p.m.