Memorandum by the Secretary of State of a Conversation with the Nicaraguan Minister (Chamorro), September 28, 1923
The Nicaraguan Minister said that he was about to return to Nicaragua; that he hoped he would be able to come back to the United States, but he was not perfectly sure what developments might take place, and in case his efforts to induce an agreement upon a candidate for the Presidency were unsuccessful.
The Minister said that he would like to have the Secretary’s suggestions about conditions in Nicaragua and any recommendations that he would care to make. The Secretary said that he was on the point of addressing a note to the Nicaraguan Government with respect to the desire of the Government of the United States to withdraw the Legation guard. The Secretary referred to the enactment of the electoral law drawn by an expert employed by the Nicaraguan Government for this purpose, and that this might be regarded as the first step to assure the people of Nicaragua complete freedom of the elections. The Secretary said that after the new Government had come into office in January 1925 it was expected that there would be no further reason to maintain a Legation guard at Managua and the American marines would accordingly be withdrawn at that time. The Secretary further said that the marines would be retained in Managua during the approaching electoral period only if the Nicaraguan Government considered that their presence would assist the constituted authorities in securing complete freedom in the elections.
The Secretary then referred to the importance of a thorough understanding of the electoral law, and that the machinery of the law should run as smoothly as possible he suggested that it might be well to ask Mr. Dodds, the author of the law, to go to Nicaragua in advance of the election, so that he might assist the authorities of Nicaragua in putting the law into effect. The Secretary said that it might be well to have assistants travel through Nicaragua to give the local authorities aid in the installation of the new system. The Secretary also referred to the importance of establishing an efficient constabulary to maintain order after the marines had withdrawn and the desire of the Government to assist in any proper way in the establishment of a constabulary. The Secretary said that it was not at all intended that the constabulary should be organized so as to supervise the elections, but, on the contrary, to be able to maintain order after the marines had been withdrawn.
The Minister said that he understood the desires of the Secretary, but that he was fearful that if commissioners of the United States [Page 607] were in Nicaragua in connection with the electoral law it would be regarded as an attempt to supervise the elections and would cost the Conservative Party many thousands of votes. He hoped that nothing would be done that would interfere with the elections. The Secretary said that that was farthest from his purpose; that it was his desire that there should be a fair and free election. The Secretary said that he did not see that a few assistants of Mr. Dodds giving instruction to local authorities would constitute an interference or would prejudice any party. The Minister still demurred and after some discussion of the subject, in which the Secretary reiterated his position, the Minister said that it might meet the case possibly if these assistants were to withdraw before the election. The Secretary said that all those matters could be considered in proper time as it was the desire of the United States to aid the Nicaraguan Government in having an election which would be so fair and free that the people would be contented with the result.