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

No. 270

Sir: Supplementing my despatch No. 262 of December 9, 1930, concerning the arrest and expatriation by Presidential order of a number of Nicaraguans, I have the honor to transcribe below a passage from President Moncada’s Message read at the opening of Congress on the 15th instant in which he refers to this subject:

The Administration has been obliged to expel from the country some five persons for their complicity in disturbing order.

Of those who were expelled in 1929 I will say to you that one of them today occupies a seat in one of the Houses of Congress and that another is about to return to the country with permission of the Government. The Government will furnish funds to repatriate him, just as it gave funds to his family, thereby proving in an eloquent manner that it is not partisan passion which impelled the decree of expulsion but effective efforts to resot [sic] to political assassinations in Nicaragua.

I desire you to give attention to this pernicious tendency. Political leaders (caudillos) not being able, for fear of the North American cooperation, to resort to civil war to attain power, think on occasions of another shorter and more decisive method, and from this arises those sporadic outbreaks which my Government is obliged to repress with imprisonments, expulsion or preventative imprisonment, which latter never exceeds the ten days which Article 112 of the Constitution concedes to the President of the Republic.

I understand that this passage of the Message has provoked much unfavorable comment and criticism. These imprisonments and expulsions were formally considered at a recent meeting of the Executive Committee (Junta Directiva) of the Conservative Party and La Prensa, the organ of that party, published in the same issue with which it published President Moncada’s Message a Manifesto of the Executive Committee in which the Party protests against these arbitrary acts. A translation of the Manifesto is transmitted herewith.

As though it were a sequel to the President’s Message and the Manifesto, the papers of today which published both documents also gave prominent space to an account of the prospective expulsion of the following seven additional Nicaraguans: Noel Ernesto Pallais, Arturo Vega, Agustin Sanchez Salinas, Salvador Morales, Ernesto Centeno, Domingo Conrado and Marco Antonio Benavente. I understand that three of these are Conservatives but that the remaining four are Liberals who were recently made prisoners in Leon on evidence indicating that they were engaged in Communistic activities in cooperation with Bolsheviki organizations in Latin America and elsewhere. One of these two individuals, Doctor Noel Ernesto Pallais, is a son-in-law of [Page 704] the prominent physician of Leon, Dr. Luis H. Debayle, and a brotherin-law of General Anastasio Somoza, Under Secretary of Foreign Affairs. President Moncada has told me that a Liberal Senator was also implicated in this Communistic plotting and that he would have been expelled from the country with the others were it not that his position as Senator makes him immune.

Respectfully yours,

Matthew E. Hanna

Manifesto of the National and Legal Board of Directors of the Conservative Party

To the People of Nicaragua: The pacific attitude of the Conservative Party has been consistent, considerate, open, and notorious in the time which has elapsed since the first of January, 1929, the day on which it yielded the public powers into the hands of its adversary and descended to occupy the field of the opposition in the active politics of the Republic.

Conscious of the obligations which it incurred when it accepted the bases which Mr. Henry Stimson, as personal representative of the President of the United States, proposed to it in a well-intended and friendly mediation to put an end to the last destructive civil war, Conservatism has lent the collaboration of its kindness, moderation, and mildness in order that the High Powers, free from worry, might be able to obtain the effective peace of the Republic, and that the citizens might be able to enjoy that peace in the atmosphere of a true social tranquility.

The Conservative Party knows very well that one of the immovable bases on which the new situation rests is that of the intangibility of the mandate conceded by the people for the entire time which the Constitution provides. As that mandate was entrusted to the Liberal Party by the result of the elections which were supervised by General Frank R. McCoy45 commissioned by the President of the United States, the Conservative Party which attended those elections voluntarily, cannot by any conception nor by any operation direct or indirect violate it (the mandate), and the Conservative Party is resigned to its fallen situation throughout all the Presidential period which is covered by the verdict of the polls of 1928.

Resigned to that idea it has dedicated itself to reorganizing its ranks and to bettering the elements which it will be able to direct tomorrow in order to take part in political activities, within the enjoyment of the necessary liberties which were guaranteed to it in the same afore-mentioned agreements and by word of the mediator Mr. Stimson himself, and which it feels it has the right to enjoy through having been the party which instituted them in the Republic [Page 705] and which has restored them as often as they were impaired, injured, or destroyed.

The Conservative Party has not decided to resign itself passively in that new position, but it has operated as an opposition by correct methods, agreeing on the causes which it has fallen to it to support, without violence and advocating its points of view opposed to those of the men now in charge of the High Powers. It does not wish to be even censured as obstructionist, because it is trying to leave all the responsibility for the present administrative situation on the shoulders of the Liberal Party.

Always in the service of public tranquility and stimulated by the desire to contribute to the realization of the plans which were drawn up on the occasion referred to of putting an end to the civil war, it resolved to go to the polls in the elections of Senators and Deputies which have just passed. When it was announced that the elections were going to be supervised by impartial elements, this National and Legal Board of Directors removed the abstention which it had previously decreed, and proceeded to set forth before the electoral Mission what it felt necessary for the free action of the party in its attendance at the polls.

In the spirit of conciliation which it has taken as a cardinal point it presented its claims on the very points which the Liberal Party had demanded of General McCoy in 1928 as necessary and indispensable and which the Conservative Government granted it without discussion. This Board of Directors felt that it would thus facilitate the relations of the Electoral Mission with the Executive Power, which could not deny the justice of the requests which it itself had formulated in like circumstances. However, the majority of those very just petitions were denied us notwithstanding the goodwill with which the National Board of Elections proceeded, presided over by the Honorable Captain Johnson commissioned by the President of the United States.

In spite of such acts of opposition, capable of overwhelming the best efforts of democracy, the Conservative Party, desirous of the good success of the Electoral Mission, did not abstain from attendance at the polls. It prepared itself for an absolutely unequal struggle because it felt that its abstention on such an occasion would upset the political organism of the Republic and would be a cause of uneasiness. To such an extreme it has carried its attachment to peace.

In order to understand the unjust inequality of footing in which the two parties were placed in the last civic campaign, it will be enough to recall that in the Departments of strongest Conservative population the municipalities had been usurped, depriving the cities and towns of their municipal governments, substituting for them, contrary [Page 706] to the Constitution and the laws, “de Facto” officials, created by a decree of the Executive, which can well be called a partial “coup d’etat.” The tradition of our democracy is essentially municipal as a people of Spanish origin which the Nicaraguan people is. It is inconceivable that there can be fair elections when the original organs of democracy were corrupted and destroyed. The obstacles which the usurping officials placed in the way of the victory of the Conservative majority were innumerable. Withal, through devotion to a far-reaching work of which the party considers itself the founder, we went to the polls in order to pave the way of the Republic in its evolutive march.

In order that peace may be a possession of all, real for the masses and beneficial for society, it must be developed within the bounds of order, which run parallel on the respect of the governed for authority, and on the justice of the governors toward everyone and toward all the citizens. The Conservative Party in its character of opposition has fulfilled in the most rigorous manner the part which belongs to it in the maintenance of that balance of order. It has given its respect to authority and to the laws of the Nation. But from the other side there has not been given to it that which belongs to it through the obligation of justice in which authority is established, and it has constantly been molested, its citizens being denied the individual guarantees which our Fundamental Charter grants them.

Immediately after the Electoral Mission had taken its departure, as if to exhibit the failure of a system, with the impossibility that the aforesaid Mission could effectively guarantee the citizens who are opposed on any grounds to the opinions of the Executive, although it is done according to the forms of law, Conservative citizens have been persecuted, imprisoned, and deported, among them candidates of the Party in the last elections and members of this National and Legal Board of Directors.

Without proceeding in any way according to legal procedure, without respecting the rules which the constitutions of all free and civilized peoples have laid down for reducing a citizen to prison, Conservatives have been seen continually arriving at the penitentiary as criminals without crimes, prisoners by governmental orders emanating from the Commander in Chief, as if martial law were in force. This movement of honorable citizens who enter and leave the prisons without sentence being passed and by arbitrary mandate can only fill society with uneasiness. Peace continues unchangeable, but the calm which must be its child and companion has taken its leave of the Conservatives, who cannot devote themselves to their tasks, because they feel themselves within the risk of the action without reason of the authority. With the Conservative Party, which comprises so [Page 707] large a part of the Republic, thus harassed, its ill-being will end by disquieting and afflicting the entire Nicaraguan society.

In order to explain such imprisonments and deportations without form of judgment and without hearing those accused, there is talk of conspiracies with criminal inclinations toward an attempt against individuals determined on. The history of the Conservative Party constitutes a precedent which by itself refutes such accusations. Neither in the times in which the Party has suffered the most persecutions, nor when guarantees for life and property were lacking, nor when the families were persecuted and life was impossible did Conservatism give consideration to thoughts of that kind, and it always refrained from criminal transactions even to free itself from any kind of tyranny.

In the presence of these events the National and Legal Board of Directors of the Conservative Party, which at present directs its political destinies and which is its official organ, has felt itself obliged to make before the Nicaraguan people the following declaration of the intentions of the Party and of the protest at the mutilation of its rights:

The Conservative Party insists that it will not deviate a bit in its pacific intentions. It will be a factor for the maintenance of public peace while this rests on the system along which the Republic travels on the axis of the institutions of rotation in office and of free polls.

The Conservative Party protests against the lying accusations that it is fomenting banditry or has understandings with it. All Nicaragua knows what the origin of this evil is and the efforts which Conservatism made when it was in power to attain a complete re-establishment of peace.

The Conservative Party denies as insulting and slanderous every accusation which may be directed against it in the attempt to exhibit it as a participant in traitorous plans and in every kind of criminal attempts against those who exercise the High Powers of the Republic.

The Conservative Party protests at the unjustified persecutions of which some of its honorable citizens are victims, who have been reduced to prison and banished from the territory of the Republic illegally and against all right, driving them from their homes, without submitting them to judicial procedure, and violating the laws and the Constitution of the Republic.

Adolfo Diaz, Emiliano Chamorro, Carlos Cuadra Pasos, N. Lacayo, F. Guzman, C. Rivers D., G. Reyes Montealegre, D. Calero B., Luis Elizondo, Ismael Solórzano, Alej. Cardenas, José María Siero, H. Zuñiga Padilla, D. Stadthagen

(There are lacking more signatures which have not been collected.)