817.1051/56: Telegram

The Chargé in Nicaragua ( Thurston ) to the Secretary of State

57. Your 204, February 17th. The amended constabulary plan outlined in the Department’s instruction number 26, February 10, 3 p.m.8 has not been presented to the Nicaraguan Government in the form of an official note to the Minister of Foreign Affairs but simply tendered as an unsigned memorandum direct to the Minister of Gobernacion.

It appears also that the Nicaraguan Government has been given to understand that the plan is not especially important or urgent and that the withdrawal of the Legation guard has not actually been decided upon.

The consequence has been that the unopposed efforts of the Government to vitiate the plan have been practically successful. I have requested the Government to withhold formal rejection of the present plan and to submit instead a memorandum indicating its objections. This memorandum indicates that it is not desired that the Legation guard shall have any participation in the formation of the constabulary because any plan or work effected by the marines would be provisional and because it might appear to other Spanish American states [that] although the Government of the United States desires to withdraw the marines the Nicaraguan Government is endeavoring to retain them under any pretext. Other minor objections relating to the accounting system are also pointed out.

These objections are specious. While the plan necessarily is provisional it is contemplated that the instructors mentioned [in] article 6 will arrive before the departure of the marines and such changes as they recommend could be made gradually. Latin American susceptibilities could be satisfied in brief statement by this Government of the fact that the Legation guard is leaving by September 1st and is only assisting in the organization of the constabulary in order to facilitate departure then. The other objections are points of form only and can be readily conceded. In fact amendments to articles 3, 5, 6, 7 and 8 were agreed to by Major Keyser two weeks ago.

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Major Keyser informs me that if the commencement of active organization of the constabulary is delayed until the permanent instructors arrive it will not be ready to replace the marines next September and that even operating under the present plan there is barely enough time to organize an adequate force.

I respectfully recommend therefore that I be instructed by radio to present the Minister for Foreign Affairs a note embodying the plan contained in the Department’s instruction 204, February 17th, with such modifications as Major Keyser and I agree upon. These changes tend to make clear the temporary nature of the participation of the marines and to adjust procedures to Nicaraguan methods and to delay the disbanding of the existing police and army forces. I should like also to be authorized to inform the President orally that the statements made in the Department’s instruction number 8, January 14, 4 p.m., are still valid and that the Legation guard only will remain until [September 1] provided satisfactory progress in the organization of the constabulary is made in the meantime.

  1. Telegram not printed; see text of plan, supra.