The Chargé in Nicaragua (Beaulac) to the Secretary of State
[Received January 25.]
Sir: With reference to the Department’s telegraphic instruction No. 4 of January 16, 1930, concerning the trial of Nicaraguan civilians by extraordinary courts martial under the Articles for the Government of the Guardia Nacional de Nicaragua, I have the honor to report that I had discussed this subject at length with President Moncada, the Commanding General Second Brigade and the Jefe Director of the Guardia Nacional.
President Moncada agrees thoroughly with the Department that the weakness of the present system is the inefficiency of the courts and that every effort should be made by his government to improve them. While he stated that his efforts in the past to do this had been unsuccessful, he promised to call a meeting of the Supreme Court to discuss the matter and determine what steps could be taken under the Constitution or, if necessary, in what way the Constitution must be amended to permit the various civil courts to function in cases of banditry in districts where martial law has been declared.
He said that he had been informed by members of the Supreme Court that the trial of bandits by civil courts under martial law was not possible. He had therefore given that idea up long ago. For several months he tried to handle a large number of bandit cases in the Northern Area through military courts composed of civilians sitting under authority of Nicaraguan military law and having no connection with the Guardia. This system broke down utterly and had to be abandoned.
General Williams and General McDougal likewise agreed that the procedure outlined by the Department, if it can be successfully worked out, is preferable to the trial of bandits by Guardia courts martial. Both however expressed doubt as to the possibility of its success under the plan outlined. General McDougal in particular stressed the urgent necessity which he feels exists to dispose in one way or another of bandits now in the custody of the Guardia. There is transmitted a copy of a memorandum prepared by him on the subject.
President Moncada said that a great deal of pressure was being exerted on him to turn Sergeant Larios over to the civil courts (Legation’s [Page 864]telegram No. 9 of January 15). The Legation likewise has received a number of petitions from various groups of citizens in the same sense. A copy and translation of one dated January 15 are transmitted herewith.49 President Moncada expressed the hope that the Department would stand behind him in this case which he considers extremely important to the future discipline and success of the Guardia. The court martial which will judge Larios will meet for the first time today. Instead of three Americans and four Nicaraguans as I previously informed the Department, it has now been decided that the court will consist of one American who will act as President and six Nicaraguans.
I shall communicate further with the Department on the subject of courts martial as soon as President Moncada informs me of the results of his meeting with the Supreme Court.
I have [etc.]
- Not printed.↩