817.1051/351: Telegram

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

8. Department’s instruction No. 614 December 27, 1929 and Department’s telegram 2 January 10, noon. I have discussed the above communication with the Commanding General Second Brigade and with the Jefe Director of the Guardia Nacional. They are both of the opinion that cases involving organized armed resistance in areas where the Nicaraguan Government has declared martial law should be tried by extraordinary courts martial composed of Nicaraguan officers sitting under authority of the articles for the government of the Guardia Nacional de Nicaragua. The specific cases in mind are members of [Page 861]organized bandit groups captured in the field. Ordinary police cases would continue to be tried by city.

It should be borne in mind that in the departments where martial law exists the city is not functioning except in cases of minor offenses.

Cases of armed resistance such as those referred to above have in the past been handled by the Nicaraguan Government under military law through military courts. It is understood that Escamilla and his volunteers last year tried bandits freely and executed some of them.

The Commanding General of the Marine Brigade considers “that the opinion of the Secretary of State as expressed in his instruction No. 614 of December 27, 1929, is correct as to territory where there is no martial law decreed, but that in areas where there is armed revolt against the established authority of the Nicaraguan Government and where martial law has been duly decreed by the Nicaraguan Government on account of such conditions, the law of war unquestionably sanctions the employment of military commissions and provost courts for the trial of such offenders.”

The Commanding General considers that the outlaws operating in the northern area and generally referred to as bandits are in “armed revolt against the established authority of the Nicaraguan Government.”

There is no doubt in my mind that from the military point of view it is essential that proper machinery be established for the punishment of members of organized bandits engaged in armed resistance against the Government. Their trial by civil courts in areas where martial law exists appears to be quite impracticable. Their trial by military courts outside the Guardia presents serious difficulties and is considered generally undesirable.

I have not yet discussed this matter with President Moncada.