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

No. 1072

Sir: With reference to the Department’s telegram No. 95 July 2 (11 a.m.) and other communications in this connection, I have the honor to transmit herewith a copy and translation of the draft decree for the creation of a Provisional Claims Commission.89

The decree is intended to cover all the points mentioned in my telegram No. 174 of June 25 (3 p.m.) The words “and other obligations” (y otras obligaciones) in Article I are intended to extend the jurisdiction of the Commission to include all pending obligations of the Nicaraguan Government arising as a result of the civil strife in Nicaragua.

Article V of the decree provides that no decision of the Commission will be valid unless it is concurred in by the American member of the Commission.

Article VIII is intended to meet the Department’s desire that the jurisdiction of the Commission be extended to include claims by persons or companies suffering losses, thereby correcting a defect in the existing law which refers only to inhabitants of Nicaragua.

Article IX extends the jurisdiction of the Commission to cover claims arising “in all the territory of the Republic” (en todo el territorio de la Republica) thus meeting the Department’s wishes in this regard. It was deemed preferable to make the decree embrace the entire territory of the Republic rather than to specify certain Departments and probably omit some district where outlaws have operated or where claims have arisen from other causes.

The last paragraph of Article IX extends the jurisdiction of the Commission to include claims for personal injury suffered by foreign citizens or subjects. Claims for personal injury to Nicaraguan citizens are omitted by the express wish of President Moncada because, in [Page 685] his opinion, to include them would result in such a deluge of claims of this nature that the work of the Commission would be indeterminable and the total of such claims would be beyond the financial possibilities of Nicaragua.

Article X provides that there shall be paid to the American member, as salary and for his expenses of establishing himself and during his stay in Nicaragua, the sum to be fixed by the President of the Republic in agreement with the Department of State of the United States of America; but in no case will said sum exceed ¢10,000. annually. This phraseology was employed for two reasons; one, to avoid criticism of the amount paid the American member by pointing out that it is to cover both salary and expenses in Nicaragua and, two, to leave the Department free to appoint a competent person at a smaller total than ¢10,000. yearly if that be possible. I understand that the total amount agreed upon will be paid without requiring the American member to submit vouchers for his expenses while in Nicaragua, and that he will be paid in addition his expenses coming to and returning from Nicaragua.

Article XII reads as follows in translation:

“Claimants may not be members of the Commission. Members of the Commission may not take cognizance of the claims of their relatives within the fourth degree of blood relationship and the second degree of affinity; and when one of them is inhibited by this reason, the American member will have double vote.”

This provision is a compromise with the Conservative Party. President Moncada recently advised the Directing Boards of the Conservative and Liberal Parties that they should not nominate for a member of the Commission a person who has a claim before the Commission or who is a blood relative of a claimant in the fourth degree or in the second degree by marriage. The leaders of the Conservative Party have contended that this provision made it practically impossible to select a competent member of the Commission from that Party, and they appealed to me to present their views to President Moncada. Dr. Cuadra Pasos suggested to me yesterday that the Party be left free to select its candidates regardless of whether they or their relatives and connections have claims before the Commission, and to provide that in case such claims are presented the member interested may not vote upon them and that the American member will have a double vote for the settlement of those claims. I submitted this view to President Moncada and he immediately accepted it as modified in Article XII quoted above. I have not yet had an opportunity to communicate this to Dr. Cuadra Pasos but I feel confident it will be satisfactory to the Conservative Party. I concur in the view that the list of competent members for the Commission from either the Conservative or the [Page 686] Liberal Party would be greatly reduced, and perhaps the most competent names eliminated, if all persons were barred who are related to claimants in the degrees mentioned above.

Article III states that the Nicaraguan members of the Commission will be appointed by the Executive. This is merely a repetition of a similar provision in Article II of the existing law. It leaves the Executive Power free to appoint the Nicaraguan members if that necessity should arise, but it is President Moncada’s fixed purpose to appoint these members from the candidates proposed by the Directing Boards of the respective Parties.

I am sure it will be greatly appreciated here if the Department can present its views concerning the decree by telegraph at the earliest practicable date.

I have [etc.]

Matthew E. Hanna
  1. Draft not printed; but see the signed decree, p. 689.