Memorandum of Conversation, by the Chief of the Division of Caribbean and Central American Affairs (Cochran)

Participants: Sr. Dr. Don Guillermo Sevilla-Sacasa, Ambassador of Nicaragua,
Mr. Spruille Braden, Assistant Secretary of State,
Mr. William P. Cochran, Jr., Chief, Division of Caribbean and Central American Affairs.

The Ambassador stated that he had called to discuss the political situation in Nicaragua. He referred to the recent friendly conversations which President Somoza had had with Ambassador Warren and spoke of the pro-American attitude and policies of President Somoza. He stated that President Somoza had had no ambition to continue in the presidency. He then referred to the Guardia Nacional which had been organized under Somoza and which looked to him as a father from the lowliest private to the senior colonel and said that many of the members of the Guardia conveyed to Somoza their desire that he continue in office. Somoza had permitted this propaganda to continue, as he did not want to hurt the feelings of his friends and it had won the support of large sectors of the population. He said that there was soon to be a tremendous popular demonstration of support for President Somoza and that at that time, Somoza would announce that he would not be a candidate for reelection. He said that the President wanted him to convey to Mr. Braden his belief that there would immediately spring up a large number of candidates to [Page 1230] succeed him. Some of these would be within the National Guard, so that the President might have difficulty in controlling these ambitious candidates and some might come from leftist elements or from groups unfriendly to the United States. However, the President was hopeful that he could control the situation and maintain peace in the country.

Mr. Braden thanked the Ambassador for his frank message. He said that of course in view of our nonintervention policy he could not make any comments upon the statements made to him by the Ambassador but that that did not mean that we were lacking in interest in the welfare and progress of Nicaragua, which was necessarily tied up with political events. He said that we believe that the best way to practice democracy was to practice it and that sometimes the way was hard. If leftist or anti-American elements should become active, well, that was only a part of the difficult progress toward the democratic goal. He said that he felt sure that President Somoza, being apart from the presidency, being apart from the National Guard, being apart in general from an active political life, would as an elder statesman continue to exercise great influence upon the development of the political situation in Nicaragua along democratic and otherwise favorable lines, and thus write his name large on the pages of history.

W[illiam] P. C[ochran]