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

No. 1028

Sir: With reference to the Department’s instruction No. 509 of May 6, 1929, directing the Legation to obtain from the Brigade Commander and forward to the Department a full report of the conference held at Las Manos on April 6, 1929, and of the agreement said to have been entered into with the Honduran representatives, I have the honor to transmit herewith a copy of a letter dated June 4, 1929, addressed to the Legation by the Brigade Commander outlining the facts which he has been able to gather with reference to the conference up to date.

The Brigade Commander states that with respect to the reported agreement he is still unable to furnish definite information since Captain Stockes is still on leave in the United States. He has informed the Legation, however, that Captain Stockes is expected to return shortly and additional information should be available at that time.19

It is noted that in the second paragraph of the Department’s instruction referred to, the following appears, “Article I of which states that the Nicaraguan and Marine forces will from that date onward cease the pursuit of Sandinistas on the Honduran frontier with American airplanes in view of the damage caused within Honduran territory by such operations.”

That portion of the text of article 1 of the reported agreement, as transmitted by the Legation at Tegucigalpa is as follows: “1. Los representates de las fuerzas del Gobierno de Nicaragua y del Comandante General de Nueva Segovia, Coronel J. A. Rossell, se obligan a que terminen de hoy en adelante la persecución de Sandinistas, en la forma en que se ha venido desarrollando, por los aviones [Page 572]americanos, en la frontera de Honduras con Nicaragua, porque se tiene en cuenta los perjuicios que puedan causarse en territorio hondureno, etc.”

This article is translated by the Legation at Tegucigalpa as follows: “The representatives of the forces of the Nicaraguan Government and of the Commandant General of Nueva Segovia, Colonel J. A. Rossell, bind themselves from today on to end the pursuit of Sandinistas in the form in which they have been using, by the American airplanes, for the damage which it can cause in Honduran territory as taken into consideration and etc.”

A more accurate translation of that portion of Article 1 would probably be the following: “The representatives of the forces of the Government of Nicaragua and of the Commandant General of Nueva Segovia, Colonel J. A. Rossell, bind themselves to cause to be terminated from today on the persecution of Sandinistas in the manner in which it has been carried out on the Honduran-Nicaraguan border by American airplanes, taking into account the damage which may be caused in Honduran territory, etc.”

The Department will be kept fully informed of any additional information concerning the conference at Las Manos which may become available.

I have [etc.]

Matthew E. Hanna

The Commander of the Second Brigade, U. S. M. C. (Williams), to the Chargé in Nicaragua (Hanna)

My Dear Mr. Hanna: I have the honor to acknowledge receipt of your communication of 29 May, 1929, which requests more information concerning a conference participated in by Captain George F. Stockes and others and the Honduran border patrol commanders.

As stated before, the conference was held on April 6th at Las Manos, and the object of such conference was to seek, without delay, ways and means for better cooperation in eliminating banditry on the border. At that time Salgado and Ortez were both in Honduras as a result of very energetic operations conducted against them. When they went across into Honduras our hands were of course tied and recourse must be had to other means. With that end in view and in order that no time be lost in securing permission from higher authorities, the conference was arranged with the consent and approval of Lieutenant-Colonel Rossell who was then in command of the Northern Area.

It is believed that the military necessity and situation were such at the time as to justify the holding of such a military conference.

[Page 573]

At the conference Señor Henrique stated that it would be better to use only ground troops as the principal complaint against airplanes was the fright occasioned upon their approach. He also stated that in the air attack of March 31 mentioned in previous correspondence, that no one had been hurt.

At the conclusion of the conference there was turned over to Señor Henrique a list of names of people in Honduras (near the border) who had been aiding the bandits.

The agreement reported to have been entered into is as follows:

“Las Manos, Honduras-Nicaragua, on the 6th day of the month of April, 1929, the undersigned, General Felipe T. Flores, Expeditionary Chief of the Forces of the Government of Nicaragua, Captain George Stockes, Representative of the Commanding Officer of Nueva Segovia, and the Generals Juan B. Mendoza and Jose A. Sanchez and the lawyer (attorney) Jose B. Henriquez, in their capacity as Expeditionary Chiefs the first two and the last as Jefe Director and Expeditionary Delegate (for the Executive Power) have agreed upon the following after the statements that each party made to the other in order to clean up the border of Honduras and Nicaragua in regard to bandits:

The Representatives of the Forces of the Government of Nicaragua and of the Commanding Officer of Nueva Segovia, Colonel J. A. Rossell, bind themselves to discontinue (stop) from this date on the persecution of Sandinistas in the way it has been done by the American Avions on the border of Honduras and Nicaragua, because it is taken into consideration the damages that they may cause on Honduranian territory, on account of the good relations of friendship cultivated (maintained) by the Government of Honduras and Nicaragua and with the Government of the United States of America.
The expeditionary Chiefs of the Government of Honduras hereby bind themselves to continue their activity on the border or in Honduranian territory, with the object of disarming Sandinistas, in order to stop the intranquillity that they cause the families that live on said border.
The two parties mentioned in number 1 and 2 aforesaid bind themselves to comply reciprocally the contents of said numbers to accomplish the task of tranquilizations (pacification) and to maintain the Honduranian and Nicaraguan families in procuring their individual safety and of their property.”

Attention is invited to the fact that the Nicaraguan Government forces were represented by the Expeditionary Chief of Volunteers, Flores, and by the Guardia Nacional officer, Lieutenant Hamas.

It was necessary for Captain Stockes to act as a spokesman, as he was the senior in command of all operations in that particular area.

In answer to a telegram sent by Senor Henrique in which he stated [Page 574]he appreciated the opportunity for the meeting, Colonel Rossell sent the following telegram to that official:

“To the Honorable Jose B. Henriquez, sub-secretary of Gobernacion, Alauca, Honduras. Your kind telegram of this date received at the moment General Flores, Captain Stockes and Lieutenant Hamas marched into town. Already they have told me how kind and attentive you and your associates were at the conference. They assure me of your determination to cooperate in all future movements to stamp out banditry and to allow the citizens of both countries to enjoy the fruits of their labor. I shall need your assistance in exterminating Ortez either near Las Manos or in the region of Malacate. Preliminary to this move I shall ask another conference at the time and place which I shall communicate later. All pledges made by Captain Stockes are fully guaranteed by me. Very sincerely.”

The results of these informal meetings have been gratifying. Better cooperation has been secured and banditry on the northern border is no longer lucrative. Ortez is the only Jefe of any consequence in that region.

Due to the fact that Captain Stockes is still absent on leave in the United States I am unable to inform you definitely whether or not he signed any agreement, but the information is such that there is reason to believe that he did. However if Captain Stockes did sign any agreement with Honduran authorities, such action on his part was without any sanction of higher authority and he had no right to exercise such authority on his own initiative. Such agreement, if it was made and signed as reported, is therefore in no way binding upon the Brigade Commander or officers acting under his orders.

With the reports previously given you, I hope this will give you the necessary information requested in your letter.

With assurance [etc.]

Dion Williams
  1. No further report appears to have been made to the Department of State.