Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State (White)
General Chamorro called on me to-day and stated that he would like to know how the Department felt towards him since the happenings of October 25, 1925. He said that he had always been very friendly to the United States and was sorry if the Department had changed its feeling in any way toward him on account of what had taken place in Nicaragua. He stated that had he been told definitely at the outset that he would not be recognized, he would not have assumed the presidency. When he and General Estrada were taking the Loma, General Estrada had said to him that as soon as the Loma was taken, he should immediately return to his house and remain there quietly, but that he, General Chamorro, had replied that he did not care about the presidency, but merely wanted to be sure that everything went off peacefully and without causing trouble and uprisings in Nicaragua. He felt sure that as soon as it was known that he was in charge of the Loma, there would be no uprisings throughout the country. After the seizure of the Loma, he had seen Mr. Eberhardt very little, and he complained that he had not been definitely told that he would not be recognized, or he would not have taken the final steps.
I told General Chamorro that I understood that he had been so informed, and then read him cable No. 150 of October 25, 3 P.M. from Mr. Eberhardt,94 in which he had reported the seizure of the Loma and had added that he had been in communication with General Chamorro and advised him that the Legation had no other course to pursue than to support the Constitutional Government, and that any government assuming power by force would not be recognized by the Government of the United States. I added that the Department had immediately replied, approving Mr. Eberhardt’s action. Chamorro also stated that later on in December Mr. Eberhardt had read him a telegram from the Department, but this did not seem to state categorically that he would not be recognized, so I read to him the Department’s No. 114 of December 9, 7 P.M.95 and told him that I thought it could not have been stated more clearly. I added that this was all past history now, however, and we were now concerned with the rehabilitation of the country and the mending of damage that had been done. General Chamorro stated that he would like the Department in some way to indicate that it was not unfriendly to him, and as he put it “restore his civil rights”. He added that he wanted to return to Nicaragua and that he would not launch his candidacy when he got down there as he did not think any candidacy should be proclaimed until the Conservative [Page 368]Party Convention meets next May. There are several candidates for the nomination and should any candidacy be launched now it would divide the party, and he thought it better to wait, but he said that he would guarantee to confer with our Minister or Chargé in Managua next May regarding the Party’s candidate, and he would undertake that only one acceptable to this Government would be nominated.
I told General Chamorro that this was not what we wanted. It is not the Department’s policy, I said, to pick out candidates for President in a foreign country. That is an internal matter for the members of the party to determine for themselves, and whoever they may select who is not debarred by the Constitution or the Treaty of February 7, 1923,96 is, of course, acceptable to the Department. Each party must pick out its own candidate, and the Nicaraguan people must pick out from them their own President. The only thing the Department is called upon to say is whether it can recognize as Constitutional President a given individual. Anybody who can be elected in accordance with the Constitution and not in violation of Article II of the General Treaty of Peace and Amity would, of course, be recognized by the Department. I told General Chamorro that unfortunately in his case we could not give him recognition as President any time during the term beginning January 1, 1929, and then I handed him the following statement:—
“On January 1, 1929, the Government of the United States will be confronted by the necessity of deciding whether it can consistently recognize the incoming administration in Nicaragua as the constitutional government of that country. While the United States is not supporting or opposing any political candidate it is most desirous that there should be no question at that time as to the eligibility under the constitution of the person who may have prevailed at the presidential elections, since it wishes to extend the fullest and most sympathetic cooperation to the new government.
“In these circumstances and in view of the reports that General Chamorro contemplates becoming a candidate for the presidency of Nicaragua in the 1928 elections, the Government of the United States has no choice but to point out that it regards General Chamorro as ineligible under the provisions of the Nicaraguan constitution to the office of President of Nicaragua during any part of the term commencing January 1, 1929.
“Article 104 of the Nicaraguan constitution provides that
‘No citizen who holds the office of President, either as the duly elected incumbent or accidentally, shall be eligible to the office of President or Vice President for the next term.’
General Chamorro unquestionably held the office of President de facto from January 17 to October 30, 1926, thus bringing himself within the prohibition of Article 104 of the Constitution and Article [Page 369]II of the General Treaty of Peace and Amity of February 7, 1923, thus making it impossible for the Government of the United States to regard him as eligible to the office of President of Nicaragua for the term beginning January 1, 1929, or to recognize him as the Constitutional President of Nicaragua if he should claim or attempt to occupy the office during any part of said term.”
General Chamorro read over the statement and said that he would like to come in later to confer with me and perhaps see the Secretary. I told him that I would, of course, be glad to receive him any time he cared to come in.