The Director of the Office of American Republic Affairs (Warren) to the Ambassador in Nicaragua (Warren)
Dear Fletch: I have read with interest your letter of July 18 and am happy that President Somoza is feeling a little better about the general situation as a result of your talk with him.
I notice that in the third paragraph you state that it would be difficult to convince the President that we cannot supply him with arms and ammunition when others are receiving them or other commodities in large quantities. The fact of the matter is that no arms and ammunition have been shipped to Central America for some time.[Page 1206]
Both the War Department and the State Department, however, are anxious to show our good faith in connection with the Staff Conversations by supplying in the near future at least some of the military equipment necessary to training the armed forces of the other American Republics. Naturally, only some of the items which will be necessary, are surplus at the present time; but it is planned to begin at least token shipments in the near future. However, the political situation in Central America is such that implementation there may not be possible in the immediate future.
Furthermore, Somoza has placed us in a most difficult position through his recent announcement of his intention to run for reelection.26 Any arms which we might ship him at this time could only be taken by him, by the Nicaraguan public, and by the other Republics of Central America and of the hemisphere as a demonstration of our complete support of his plans. This impression would not only be erroneous but extremely embarrassing and this situation will have to receive further thought and study which will, of course, be affected by his reaction to Rockefeller’s27 recent talk with Sevilla-Sacasa, concerning which a telegram28 was sent you recently.
In passing let me mention also that any steps which we might take to extend a loan to Nicaragua at this particular time would have the same unfortunate connotations in the eyes of hemisphere public opinion, quite apart from the fact that neither the Embassy nor the Department sees any particular economic need or justification for such a loan at this time.
I quite agree with you that many of our troubles are due to the commitments made by the representatives of the War Department, who seem to be always traveling through Central America, and hope that this aspect of the situation can be worked out up here. I certainly share your opinion as to the desirability of a heart to heart talk with Colonel Bartlett’s replacement, so that his status vis-à-vis the Embassy may be entirely clear.
I have looked into the question of an agreement for a military mission. I find that the Nicaraguan Government was presented with the draft standard contract. Clearly, there must be some original basis for discussion, and the standard contract was prepared with that thought in mind. If the Nicaraguans have any comments, suggestions or changes to make, they will, of course, receive careful consideration. I consequently cannot understand where President Somoza got the idea that the contract was presented to him on a “take it or leave it” basis.[Page 1207]
It is true that there is no mention in the standard contract of the amount of money to be paid by the Nicaraguan Government to the members of the Mission, this being left to later negotiation. However, insofar as the Department of State has had any hand in the matter, the only basis suggested has been that Nicaragua pay them the amount which is paid to an officer of corresponding grade in the Nicaraguan Guardia. No one has mentioned either the sum of $5,000 or $6,000 to anyone in ARA29 or to the officer of FC30 with whom the discussions in connection with the standard contract have taken place. Consequently, the State Department knows nothing of the basis for Somoza’s discontent.
The standard contract does provide that the Nicaraguan Government shall pay for the transportation of the various officers, their families, household effects and automobiles. If Nicaragua is unable to do so, the War Department has borne this expense in certain cases. However, I do not believe that the Nicaraguan financial position is really such that it cannot afford to pay the expenses in connection with a Military Mission of the size essential to the proper training of the Guardia Nacional.
I have no idea where Captain Somoza could have obtained the idea that we are not friendly toward Nicaragua, for such is not the case. I feel that he is laboring under the misconception that if we do not give an immediate “Yes” to every request which is made, that means we are not friendly. It so happens that a number of Nicaragua’s requests have had to be weighed in the light of our overall policy, and the fact that immediate compliance has not been possible does not indicate any unfriendliness whatsoever. The Department has Nicaragua’s best interests very much at heart but does not feel that those best interests necessarily and invariably require us to accede immediately to every request which is made by its representatives in Washington. There is always the further possibility that Captain Somoza may confuse his father’s best interests with those of Nicaragua; and that we may not fully agree with his opinion.
With regard to Captain Somoza’s story of why Guatemala did not receive arms and ammunition, I can only say that it represents his own impression and interpretation of events which took place, and that it has no relation whatsoever to the facts. As you may remember from an instruction which was sent to Nicaragua early this year,31 the Department had decided not to send any further arms—or AT–6 planes—to Central America for the time being. It has adhered to this position. This decision affected Honduras, El Salvador and Costa Rica just as [Page 1208] much as it did Nicaragua and Guatemala, and any impression which the Nicaraguans and Guatemalans may have gotten to the contrary is completely erroneous.
I hope that the above will enable you to clarify any further misconceptions which may exist in the President’s mind.
[By an exchange of notes dated February 1 and September 20, 1945, not printed, the military mission agreement between the United States and Nicaragua signed at Washington May 22, 1941, and extended in 1943, was extended for an additional two-year period effective May 22, 1945 (817.20 Missions/2–145). For text of the original agreement of May 22, 1941, regarding the detail of a United States military officer to serve as Director of the Military Academy of the National Guard of Nicaragua, see Department of State Executive Agreement Series No. 217, or 55 Stat. (pt. 2) 1327. For text of agreement of 1943, extending the original agreement, see Department of State Executive Agreement Series No. 344, or 57 Stat. (pt. 2) 1109.]
- For documentation regarding the announcement of President Somoza’s reelection plans in August 1945, see pp. 1213 ff.↩
- Nelson A. Rockefeller, Assistant Secretary of State for American Republic Affairs.↩
- Telegram 288, August 7, p. 1213.↩
- Office of American Republic Affairs.↩
- Division of Foreign Activity Correlation.↩
- Instruction 1489, January 29, p. 1195.↩