817.00/4902

President Diaz to President Coolidge78

Excellency: In order that the elections which under the constitution of Nicaragua are to be held in October, 1928, for the purpose of electing a President of the Republic and members of its National Congress shall be free, fair, and impartial and not open to fraud or intimidation practiced by any of the parties contending at such election upon each other, the Government of Nicaragua requests the President of the United States to lend to it its assistance and good offices in insuring such an election. To this end, the Government of Nicaragua requests the friendly assistance of the President of the United States in preparing a proper election law in Nicaragua, in securing supervision by impartial Americans over the actual conduct of the elections, in securing American assistance to train and direct an impartial and non-partisan force of constabulary to secure law and order and prevent intimidation of voters and to in other ways secure American assistance in tranquillizing the sorely disturbed condition of the country so that such election can be fairly held.

I have the honor to submit a memorandum showing the steps which my Government suggests may be desirable or appropriate to be taken in order that the President of the United States may be able adequately to perform this great service to the Republic of Nicaragua, should he be willing to do so. The Government of Nicaragua will gladly consider the taking of any other steps on its part which may be suggested by the President of the United States as essential or desirable for the accomplishment of that purpose.

Believe me [etc.]

Adolfo Diaz
[Page 351]
[Enclosure]

Memorandum as to Suggested Steps To Be Taken Looking Towards the Holding of a Free, Fair, and Impartial Election in Nicaragua in October 1928, With the Assistance of the President of the United States and Under the Supervision of American Officials Suggested by Him

I

Enactment of an Adequate Election Law

(1).
The President of the United States may select an expert in matters of election law to advise him as well as the Nicaraguan Congress as to a proper electoral law to be enacted by said Congress in order to provide the means and method by which the assistance of impartial American advice and supervision can be rendered for holding Nicaraguan elections. The salary and expenses of this expert shall be borne by the Nicaraguan Government.
(2).
While reserving to the President of the United States, through this expert or otherwise, to suggest modifications and changes in the electoral plan to be prescribed by this law, the following outline of the electoral system is suggested as appropriate:—
(A).
Under the electoral law there shall be created a National Electoral Commission which shall have full and general power to supervise the election and to prescribe regulations having the force of law for the registration of voters, the casting of their ballots, and all other matters pertaining to the election that are not covered by the electoral law. Among other powers, the National Electoral Commission shall have the exclusive right to canvass the number of votes cast at the election and to determine all questions and contests as to the regularity and legality of such votes, and their determination as to the number and legality of the votes cast shall be final and shall be reported directly to Congress for its certification and declaration of the result of the election.
(B).
This Commission shall consist of three members to be suggested by the President of the United States, one such member being a Conservative, one a Liberal, recommended by the respective party organizations to which they belong, and the third, the Chairman, being an American. A majority of the Commission shall be (sufficient) to constitute a quorum and to take action on any matter but no such action or resolution of the Commission shall be valid or effective unless concurred in by the American Chairman.
(C).
There shall be in each Department a Departmental Election Commission composed of three members, one Conservative, one Liberal, and the Chairman, the latter being an American. These members shall [Page 352]be appointed by the National Electoral Commission, the Liberal and Conservative members being appointed after consultation with the local organizations of the respective parties.
(D).
In each polling place, there shall be a Local Election Board composed of three members, one Conservative, one Liberal, and the Chairman, the latter being an American. These members shall be appointed by the National Electoral Commission, the Liberal and Conservative members being appointed after consultation with the local organizations of the respective parties.
(E).
In the Departmental Commissions and Local Boards, a majority of the members shall be sufficient to constitute a quorum and to take action by resolution or otherwise but no such action or resolution shall be valid or effective unless concurred in by the American Chairman.

II

Preservation of Law and Order for the Purpose of the Conduct of the Election

(1).
The National Army shall be disbanded and mustered out of service contemporaneously with the disbandment of the opposing forces and the function of preserving law and order throughout the country shall be assumed by a National Constabulary to be organized under the instruction and, so far as possible, the direction and command of American officers now in active service and detailed to this duty by the President of the United States.79
(2).
The National Electoral Commission, through its Chairman, shall have the right to command the services of the National Constabulary and to issue orders thereto for the purpose of preventing intimidation and fraud in the election and of preserving law and order during the various acts of registration and voting. It shall also have the right by regulation to prescribe the method under which the Departmental Election Commissions and the Local Election Boards shall each have the right to command the services of members of the National Constabulary located within their jurisdiction for the similar purpose of preventing intimidation and fraud and preserving law and order for the election.
(3).
In view of the disturbed condition of the country after the recent civil war and of the fact that a very considerable time will be required for the organization, instruction, and discipline of the National Constabulary, the Government of Nicaragua requests that the President of the United States will permit a sufficient force of American marines to remain in the country pending the organization and instruction of the Constabulary and during the election to reinforce the [Page 353]work of the Constabulary in securing an absolutely impartial election between both parties.
A[dolfo] D[iaz]
  1. This letter was brought to the United States by Col. Henry L. Stimson, personal representative of President Coolidge in Nicaragua, and was received in the Division of Latin American Affairs, June 4, 1927.
  2. See pp. 433 ff.