817.1051/351: Telegram

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

4. Your 8, January 15, 3 p.m. The Department’s objection is based on considerations of policy. So long as the Guardia is directed by United States marine officers such officers will necessarily share the responsibility for the actions of any courts established under that institution. The Department is willing to have American officers assume responsibility for training the Guardia and temporarily, because of special conditions, to have them take part in operations for the maintenance of order. It is not willing to have them exercise judicial functions with respect to Nicaraguan civilians.

So far as the Department is informed there is no legal reason why bandits cannot be dealt with by the civil courts in areas where martial law exists. If this is true the Department feels that the Nicaraguan Government should assume responsibility for seeing that proper courts are established. The Department assumes that the Supreme Court would be willing to assist the executive in this so far as appointments are concerned, and that the Nicaraguan Congress, which is now in session, could pass new legislation if any were needed. Is there any insuperable obstacle to action by the Nicaraguan Government which would result in the establishment of civil courts which had sufficient authority and sufficient courage to deal with this situation? The Department feels that the executive, legislative, and judicial powers in Nicaragua must do their part toward the reestablishment of order if the United States Government is to continue the assistance which it has been rendering.

Please report fully on this matter by air mail after discussing it with the military authorities and the Nicaraguan Government.