File No. 817.812/320
The Nicaraguan Chargé d’Affaires to the Secretary of State
Washington, April 14, 1917.
Most Excellent Sir: I have the honor to inform your excellency that I have received from my Government a special instruction to lay before you the following statement:
On December 20, 1907, there was signed in this city by the representatives of the five Isthmian Republics a series of Conventions aiming to draw closer the relations between the Central American countries, the said series beginning with the General Treaty of Peace and Friendship, which establishes conditions favorable for unalterable peace and promoting the relations of those nationalities; it further recapitulates the matters that were the subject of special and independent conventions and fixes its term and the manner of terminating it, namely, through notice of one of the parties to the others one year before the expiration of the term of ten years, counted from the date of the exchange of ratifications.
One of these conventions is that which created the Central American Court of Justice, it having been concluded separately from the General Treaty of Peace and Friendship, and in the making of which all the requisites were observed that give it the character of a distinct convention, however much all of them may appear to spring from [Page 35]the original, lofty and noble idea which, in the first treaty of the series, embodied the various prerequisites for that mutual respect and reciprocal cordiality which ought to prevail among all those nationalities.
Article 27 of that Convention stipulated as its unquestionable object that “the high contracting parties will always consider in force during the term of ten years, counted from date of last ratification,” which term for the purposes of the denunciation expired on the 11th day of the month of March of this year, and which my Government had to observe in good time to give to the signatory Governments notice of its intention, which, furthermore, was unnecessary seeing that the clause just mentioned sets forth in an inevitable and conclusive manner the term of its life without other formality than that described, for instance, in the General Treaty of Peace and Friendship, which I have mentioned above and has been adopted by the Department of Foreign Relations in Nicaragua, both to settle elementary duties of courtesy and to avoid any objection that might be made on the erroneous assumption that the two treaties are inseparable.
There is so little doubt as to the distinct and complete nature of every one of these Conventions of various duration that the last one of the series, to save any of the argument concerning further Central American Conventions whose term was set at five years with a possible extension of six months when “one of the parties had notified the others of its decision to withdraw from it”, was denounced by the former Minister of Foreign Relations of Nicaragua, don Diego Manuel Chamorro, on December 16, 1913, without arousing any protest whatsoever based on the suggestion or recommendation which is made of it, as of the others, by the above referred to General Treaty of Peace and Friendship.
My Government wishes to impress your excellency with the assurance that Nicaragua is not in any way opposed to arbitration as the method par excellence recommended by civilization for the peaceful settlement of disputes among States, as is proved by its having contributed in preference to the maintenance of the Central American Court of Justice notwithstanding its harrowing economic condition, and the other fact no less eloquent that it lately sent the President of the Judiciary and of the Supreme Court of Justice to the said Court as Nicaragua’s counsel, who, although he carried instructions to deny the jurisdiction of that Court over the matter in dispute, proved by his mere presence beyond doubt, a patent and marked evidence of respect and consideration as also of brotherhood for that institution and the honorable justices, designated by the sister Republics, according to the justice loving words of the President of the Court, Doctor don Angel Bocanegra, in the special reception granted to our representative.
Nicaragua regards it as a matter of regret to put on record here the deplorable truth, that the Central American Court of Justice, far from responding to the lofty purposes of its creation, degenerated plainly after a long period of inactivity into a center of lively intrigues of the Central American Governments incited against Nicaragua in connection with the signing of the Chamorro-Weitzel Treaty which was not carried into effect, and more particularly the Bryan-Chamorro Convention of 1914.[Page 36]
Through this Convention entered into in the exercise of the sovereign and inalienable powers that belong to Nicaragua and of which it will never tolerate the slightest impairment, an action was brought against my Government first by that of Costa Rica on March 24, 1916, later by that of Salvador on the 28th of August of the same year, after a well known crusade for the preparation of the minds for concerted action by the capitals of the Isthmian Republics, the consequence being that both awards of the Court invariably adverse were given in plain violation of justice and on questions forbidden to its jurisdiction before first attempting conciliation between the Governments to which express reference is made in Article I of the Convention that created the Court.
It is a preeminent matter of self respect to maintain intact the sovereign rights of the State, the mere discussion of which would detract from the national dignity; on the other hand, the undisguised prejudices of the Court against most important international negotiations of Nicaragua in which not only its public and sovereign faith is pledged but that also is involved which it has believed to be since the beginning its high and natural destiny; a prejudice which, in all likelihood would give rise to new compromising situations, painful and unusual, with the other sister Republics of Central America and which does not fit in with “the purpose of effectively guaranteeing their rights and maintaining unalterable peace and harmony in their relations”, as set forth in the preamble of the Convention; and finally the motive, set forth in document of modification, which clearly is none the less sincere and compelling, forced my Government to arrive at that final decision as to the present organization and functioning of the Central American Court of Justice.
I shall not give any time, deeming it unnecessary in the presence of the papers already produced in both cases, to demonstrate the palpable injustice of the two judgments rejected by Nicaragua, in as much as with respect to the plea of Costa Rica, the provisions of the Jerez-Canas of 1858 and of the Cleveland Award of 1888 are definite; and with regard to that of Salvador, as it not only violates the rules of international law in its application to the Gulf of Fonseca but leaving intact the territorial rights of Honduras in the waters of the said Gulf, declares condominium with Nicaragua in the said bay, notwithstanding the fact that Honduras lies between Salvador and Nicaragua and the boundary between the first and last of those States was fixed by the said award.
It is fit to record here that when Salvador instituted its demand of condominium, it met with a vigorous protest from Honduras, which frankly stood against the claims of Salvador and that not long ago, a few days before the recent action was instituted, there was signed a Convention, which has not yet been ratified and of which I enclose a copy,4 between the representatives of the above cited countries under which Salvador gave a manifest recognition of the territorial rights of Honduras in the Bay of Fonseca, thereby granting full merit and justice to the firm ideas of the protest above referred to against the claims of condominium, which Convention won the praise of his excellency, the Minister of Foreign Relations of Honduras, as seen in [Page 37]the report of his Department of 1915–1916, which also contains the text of the said arrangement, which clearly amounts to the Government of Salvador rectifying its opinion.
It is, therefore, on the strength of the foregoing and from a sense of national dignity for the safeguard of the interests of the country and because the heavy contribution is manifestly inconsistent with the nature of the Courts agency that my Government, observing the unfortunate termination of its power, denounced altogether, rightfully and advisedly the convention on the subject, which while it leaves Clause I of the General Treaty of Peace and Friendship without force does not affect the remainder as a whole, as they have not been affected by the termination of Articles IV, V, XII and XIII of the same General Treaty.
Before closing this note, I must comply with the recommendation of his excellency, the Minister of Foreign Relations of Nicaragua to present to your excellency his personal compliments, and I avail myself of the opportunity of renewing [etc.]
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