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United States Department of State / Papers relating to the foreign relations of the United States, 1919

Guatemala,   pp. 263-302 PDF (13.0 MB)

Page 263

Development of Opposition to President Estrada Cabrera-Criticism of the
Administration by Bishop Pifiol; His Arrest, May 16, 1919-Representations
of the United States in Behalf of Freedom of Speech-Release of Bishop
Pifiol, August 20-Organization of an Opposition " Unionist Party"
The Charge' in Guatemala (Thurston) to the Acting Secretary of
No. 754                         GUATEMALA, April 7,1919.
Strictly confidential                    [Received April 21.]
SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the Depart-
ment's instruction number 294 [unnwu'mbered], dated February 14,
1919,1 stating that inasmuch as it appears that the health of President
Manuel Estrada Cabrera is not good, the Department believes that
a thorough study should be-made of the conditions which are likely
to exist in Guatemala upon his death....
0 *   *   *   *   * S
Thus there exist in Guatemala two utterly conflicting elements:
that of the present and contemplated future dictatorship-and that
of an awakening people who demand emancipation from the intoler-
able burden of such a dictatorship.
It is but reasonable to foresee, then, that this latter element will
attempt to achieve its aims at the first definite sign of the end of
Estrada Cabrera's regime-and it is equally reasonable to assume
that those whose fortunes depend upon the continuance of such a
regime will violently oppose the change of system. I have already
heard, in fact, that a group of the President's staff generals have
formed a pact to support with their troops the man among them
chosen by the President as his successor.
The inevitable result of such a situation will be civil war. The
reality of the awakening I have just referred to is demonstrated
by the accompanying Open Letters to President Cabrera, the first
of which is signed by Sen-or Manuel Cobos Batres and the second
by Bishop Jose Piniol y Batres.' Sefior M. C. Batres, while not a
prominent citizen, seems to have placed his signature to this letter
more to encourage the people than to show any personal leader-
Not printed.          2Letters not printed.

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