417.00/366

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

No. 1210

Sir: I have the honor to transmit herewith copies with translations of a letter addressed to the Minister of Hacienda by the Provisional Claims Commission dated October 14, 1929, and the reply of the Minister of Hacienda dated October 16, 1929. 97 It will be noted that the Minister of Hacienda, in answering the Commission’s inquiry, has taken advantage of the opportunity thus presented to assume what would appear to be unwarranted interference in matters solely within the jurisdiction of the Commission itself. The Commission, in consulting the Nicaraguan Government in this connection, may have given him some justification for expressing his views as he did.

This exchange of letters was brought to my attention a few days ago by Mr. J. S. Stanley, American member of the Commission, who sought my advice in the matter. After discussing the subject we reached the conclusion that the Commission, in view of its international character and the international agreement in which it finds its authority, should be free to interpret the decree creating it and defining its powers and limitations, and that it could not permit the Nicaraguan Government to instruct it in the manner set forth in the letter of the Minister of Hacienda.

Mr. Stanley subsequently informed me that he had discussed the matter with Dr. Enoc Aguado, one of the Nicaraguan members of the Commission, and that he concurred in the view set forth above. This was confirmed later on by Dr. Aguado who called upon me for that purpose. Dr. Aguado was positive in his acceptance of this view of the matter and said that he had reason to believe that it was also President Moncada’s view. This was also confirmed to me personally [Page 694]by President Moncada when I saw him this morning. He did not fail to point out, however, that the question was raised, not by the Nicaraguan Government, but by the Commission in asking the Government for its opinion. The President said that he believed there would be no further misunderstanding on this point. I am not so sure that the Minister of Hacienda will drop the subject thus lightly and the Department may desire to give me instruction to guide me should the subject come up again.

Both Mr. Stanley and Dr. Aguado are dissatisfied with the indefiniteness of the period during which claims may be presented. It will be noted that the Minister of Hacienda is seemingly of the opinion that a state of peace, within the meaning of the Claims Convention, exists in at least a portion of the republic. I understand that the Commission will disregard this opinion and act on the assumption that a state of peace has not been declared in any part of the Republic, which assumption appears to be in accord with the facts. Consequently, claims may be submitted for a period of six months after a date which has not yet been determined, and the Commission finds this uncertainty very objectionable. They now have this matter under consideration and consulted me as to how it could be corrected. I expressed the opinion that any correction which involved a modification of the Convention would necessarily have to receive the approval of both governments. I understand that the Commission is now considering the presentation of a proposal for some such modification. I reminded the Commission, however, that curtailing the period within which claims could be submitted arising from future acts in regions still overrun by bandits would mean that the work of the Commission might not be as complete as was contemplated when the Convention was entered into.

Dr. Aguado, as well as Mr. Stanley, sympathizes with the desire of the Nicaraguan Government as expressed in the letter of the Minister of Hacienda to eliminate the claims for back pay of soldiers or civilian employees not covered by the budget who may have been in the service of the Nicaraguan Government as a consequence of the war. Dr. Aguado is of the opinion, nevertheless, that, in view of the comprehensive wording of the Convention, it would be difficult to interpret it in such manner as to omit these claims, because he thinks the clear intention of the Convention is to include them. Consequently, it would seem that this point might also be cleared up in a supplemental informal agreement between the two governments.

I have [etc.]

Matthew E. Hanna
  1. Neither printed.