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

No. 363

Sir: With reference to the decision to withdraw a large number of marines from Nicaragua by June 1 of this year and the remainder after the elections of 1932, I have the honor to report that the project has aroused mixed feelings here.

As is perfectly natural, many people look upon the departure of the marines with a certain amount of trepidation. This is true of tire leaders of both parties and of the foreign residents. That the presence [Page 849] of the marines has been a stabilizing factor has been the feeling of these people, who look back to 1925 and remember the events which followed the withdrawal of the Legation guard in that year.38

However, there is another side to the matter. Nicaraguans have their national pride just as do people of other nations; and however much they may have welcomed the marines in the past and recognized that their presence was necessary to the peace and welfare of the Republic, they looked toward the day when Nicaragua might be able to stand on her own feet without the assistance of the marines. The fact that the other republics of Central America have been managing to conduct their own affairs without assistance of the United States marines has not passed unnoticed, and has contributed to the sense of humiliation which patriotic Nicaraguans have felt. The feeling of many Nicaraguans has been one of resentment, not against the marines, whose assistance to this country is appreciated by thoughtful men, but against the condition of affairs which made the presence of the marines necessary.

This feeling of national pride, the feeling that Nicaragua should be able to stand on her own feet just as much as Costa Rica and El Salvador has tended to make patriotic Nicaraguans very reticent in expressing their fears as to what may follow when the marines leave. The fears of these people have been to a considerable extent mitigated by the realization that every effort is being made to organize and train a real non-partisan National Guard, something which the country has never had before. This is also true of the feeling of fear among the foreign coffee planters in the Matagalpa area.

It is the feeling of intelligent men in both parties that the time has come when Nicaragua must make a real effort to get on by herself and that party leaders must be forced to restrain their ambitions in the interests of the national welfare. The recent revelations in connection with the deportation of Ernesto Bermudez (see my despatch No. 358 of March 10, 1931)39 have disgusted sensible people irrespective of party and focused attention on the necessity of curbing party spirit for the sake of the country. I am enclosing a translation of an editorial from La Prensa, the Conservative organ, which reflects the fears which the prospective withdrawal of the marines causes and suggests that the salvation of the country must be sought in an agreement to choose as the next President a strong upright man whether Liberal or Conservative, on the understanding that the constitution will then be revised so as to provide a form of government [Page 850] similar to that of Switzerland or of Uruguay. As an added safeguard La Prensa suggests that the party which does not have the Presidency should have the majority in Congress. Regardless of the merits of this proposal, the editorial reflects intelligent opinion that party spirit must be restrained.

It should perhaps be added that the announcement of the withdrawal of the marines is accepted as evidence of the good faith of the United States in its dealings with Nicaragua. I enclose a copy and translation of a statement issued by President Moncada soon after the announcement of the intended withdrawal.

Respectfully yours,

Matthew E. Hanna

Declaration by President Moncada

On the announcement in the United States of America of the withdrawal of the marines who are now in Nicaragua President Moncada declares that this is the eloquent proof that the Government at Washington has not come to his country except to assist it in its serious problems for peace and liberty, that he has always shown this confidence and that as head of the Government of Nicaragua he is disposed to honor in the proper manner the good offices, sincerity and justice with which the American Government has proceeded.

President Moncada will gradually increase to the necessary extent the National Guard of Nicaragua, in order that it may be a source of honor and prestige to this Nation and at the same time to the marines who have come to organize it.

  1. For correspondence concerning withdrawal of the Legation Guard, see Foreign Relations, 1925, vol. ii, pp. 618 ff.; for events which followed, see ibid., pp. 636 ff.
  2. Not printed.