File No. 417.00/76.

The Acting Secretary of State to the American Ambassador to Great Britain.

No. 1593.]

Sir: In connection with previous correspondence on the subject of the Nicaraguan Claims Commission, a copy of an instruction to the legation at Madrid is inclosed for your information. Similar instructions have been sent to the embassies at Paris, Berlin, and Rome.1

I am, etc.,

Alvey A. Adee.

The Acting Secretary of State to the American Chargé d’Affaires at Madrid.

Sir: As you are probably aware, the Government of Nicaragua, with the advice of this Government and as a corollary of the general plan for the rehabilitation of the finances of Nicaragua, has established a Nicaraguan Claims Commission to adjudicate the claims of nationals and foreigners against the Government of Nicaragua. Most of these claims are on behalf of Nicaraguan citizens and are a result of the long and arbitrary administration of ex-President Zelaya Nationals of the United States, Germany, Great Britain, France, Italy, Spain, and other countries, however, also have claims against Nicaragua.

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By a decree ratified by the Nicaraguan Assembly on April 4 last, it was ordered that the commission should be composed of three members—one Nicaraguan and two Americans. Dr. Cuadra Pasos and Mr. Moffat were appointed by the Government of Nicaragua, and Judge Otto Schoenrich by this Government. Mr. Moffat has since been appointed consul general of the United States at Singapore, and his successor on the commission has not yet been designated. Judge Schoenrich, a lawyer of high standing, formerly a member of the Porto Rican district court, is the presiding commissioner. The commissioners are to be remunerated solely by Nicaragua.

The Department, in advising that the commission be so composed, sought only to assure the justice and impartiality of the tribunal and to make it one to which foreign Governments would be likely to look for the just consideration of the claims of their citizens.

It now appears, to the surprise of the Department, that some of the foreign ministers, notably the German, English, and French, have taken exception to this commission and have advised their nationals not to submit their claims to it.

You will explain to the Spanish Government that this commission is a purely Nicaraguan tribunal constituted by that Government to pass upon claims against Nicaragua; that in accordance with the general rule of international law regarding the exhaustion of local remedies before diplomatic representations can become appropriate, save under exceptional circumstances not appearing in the present situation, the Government of Nicaragua would appear to be within its rights in requiring that all claims should be adjudicated in the first instance by this commission; that in the very unlikely event of an actual denial of justice before this commission it obviously would be open to Spain or any other power to take up such a case diplomatically for final settlement by an international commission or otherwise; that it can hardly be supposed that Spanish or any other interests would be less safe before a Nicaraguan commission of three, two members of which are American citizens approved by this Government, than they would be before one of purely Nicaraguan personnel, which would probably have been established had not this Government secured the designation of two Americans.

This Government feels the more certain that the Spanish Government will raise no objection to this strictly Nicaraguan commission, since it is but a part of an apparently conscientious plan undertaken by the Government of Nicaragua in order to rehabilitate the finances of that country and to make its Government stable and responsible. Any disarrangement of this plan tending to defeat its purpose, which, under present conditions, seems reasonably assured, must be highly deprecated. Spain, as well as the United States, is commercially interested in the establishment of stable conditions and a responsible Government in Nicaragua and in adjacent countries.

The Department can not overemphasize the importance it attaches to the successful carrying out of the plans for the rehabilitation of Nicaragua, and it believes that all the countries commercially interested in Central America will best serve their own interests by promoting the realization of those plains.

The foregoing is for your information and guidance and anticipatory of future telegraphic instructions pending the receipt of which you will take no action in this matter.

I am, etc.,

Alvey A. Adee.
  1. Also to the legation at Guatemala.