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

No. 614

Sir: The Department acknowledges the receipt of the Legation’s despatches Nos. 1231 and 1233 of November 21, 1929,46 with respect to the contemplated utilization of the Guardia Nacional de Nicaragua as an agency for the administration of criminal justice through courts martial. It is noted that to this end the Jefe Director of the Guardia has agreed to appoint several Nicaraguan citizens designated by President Moncada as Second Lieutenants in the Guardia in order that they may receive training in military law and subsequently serve on courts martial.

The Department cannot approve of the trial of Nicaraguan civilians by members of the Guardia so long as this institution is directed by American officers. The purpose for which the Guardia has been established is the maintenance of public order and, save in the case of military offenses, it should not be called upon to prescribe the penalties of the law even though the ordinary courts fail to function properly. If the Nicaraguan courts are, as stated, notoriously ineffective, it is obviously preferable that measures should be taken to bring about a strengthening of this branch of the Government than that it be further weakened by the transference of its duties. The Legation accordingly is authorized in its discretion to discuss this matter with President Moncada and to suggest to him the advisability of urging upon the Supreme Court the need which seems to exist for the improvement of the Nicaraguan judiciary system. It would appear that the responsibility for the maintenance of order, so far as the punishment of offenders is concerned, rests squarely upon that body.

In this connection the Department calls attention to its instruction No. 570 of October 7, 1929,47 concerning the desirability of training [Page 860]Nicaraguan citizens for appointment as junior officers in the Guardia Nacional de Nicaragua. This procedure not only would be designed to obviate the resentment which follows direct participation in the administration of police functions by American officers, but would constitute an important and necessary step in the nationalization of the Guardia in anticipation of the eventual withdrawal from Nicaragua of the present armed assistance of this Government.

I am [etc.]

For the Secretary of State:
Francis White
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