817.00/7140

The Secretary of State to the Secretary of the Navy ( Adams )

My Dear Mr. Secretary: I have your letter of May 2842 inquiring whether Marine aviation forces in Nicaragua should continue to operate with the Guardia as they have been operating before the Marines were concentrated at Managua. You also ask my views regarding the recommendation of the Commandant of the Marines that the offer of the Bragmans Bluff Lumber Company to provide a plane to operate in connection with the Guardia should be refused.

It is my view that the Marine aviation forces in Nicaragua should continue to operate with the Guardia as they have been operating before the Marines were concentrated at Managua. I think that this cooperation is in line with the purpose of the instruction battalion to be maintained in Managua while American officers continue in the Guardia Nacional. In the confidential Statement of Policy dated February 5, 1931, drawn up at the time that Mr. Hanna and General McDougal conferred with me—the Statement being subsequently initialed by President Moncada—it was provided that “by not later than June first, next, the Marine forces in Nicaragua will consequently have been reduced to an instruction battalion in the city of Managua and the aviation force.” In other words, the plans made for the reduction of the Marine forces outside of Managua did not contemplate any reduction in the aviation force. You will recall that a copy of the Statement of Policy was given to General McDougal at the time it was drawn up for the information of the Major General Commandant of Marines and that a copy of it was also formally transmitted to the Navy Department in this Department’s communication of February 19, 1931. This memorandum was quoted from on the bottom of page 5 of the memorandum dated April 20 of the conversation between you, Admiral Pratt, General Fuller and myself on April 18, a copy of which I sent you on April 23,42 and which you returned to me on May 6 with your approval and that of Admiral Pratt and General Fuller.

With regard to your second point concerning the recommendation of the Commandant of Marines that the offer of the Bragmans Bluff Lumber Company to provide a plane to operate in connection with the Guardia be refused, I desire to say that I do not agree at all with this recommendation. You will recall that the position taken by this Government at the time of the recent attack by the bandits on [Page 856] Puerto Cabezas and other points on the east coast of Nicaragua was that it is the duty of the Nicaraguan Government to protect Americans and other foreigners in Nicaragua. This Government sent vessels to the sea port to give protection there while the Guardia was unable to do so, but emphasis was continually put on the obligation of Nicaragua to provide for the protection of persons and property in Nicaragua. It was for this reason that the Guardia was established. The Guardia has no aviation force. The Standard Fruit and Steamship Company, which controls the Bragmans Bluff Lumber Company, was not satisfied with the protection accorded it by the Guardia. On the other hand, this Government did not feel that its forces should be used for this purpose. The Company then offered to pay for the equipment, transportation to Puerto Cabezas, and maintenance there of fifty addition[al] Guardia Nacional. The Company also desired the protection of an airplane and offered to supply one. This suggestion of the Company was accepted by the Department of State after the American Minister in Managua had discussed the matter with the Commander of the Guardia and the Nicaraguan authorities, and the plan had met with their approval.

The private secretary of President Moncada approved on his behalf this project in a letter to the American Minister dated May 19. On May 8, the American Minister informed the Department that he had discussed this matter with General Matthews who said that “the employment of an airplane presents some difficulties but it is believed the plan can be made to work to the mutual interests of the Company and the Guardia Nacional. The operator and mechanic will of course be required to sign a contract of engagement with the Guardia Nacional, agreeing that all military operations shall come under the strict control of the Guardia Nacional. The operator will be required to be licensed and satisfy the Jefe Director as to his skill and training in the operation of military aircraft.” General Matthews’ views, as above set forth, were transmitted to you in this Department’s letter of May 11.43

I feel, therefore, that the plan should be carried out as agreed to. The fact that the Guardia Nacional will operate a plane, provided by the Company, in the Puerto Cabezas area, is another step toward the complete policing of the country by the Guardia Nacional. If this plane is able to control the situation in the Puerto Cabezas area, the Marine planes will be relieved to that extent.

Yours very sincerely,

Henry L. Stimson
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