817.00 Johnson Electoral Mission/213
The Minister in Nicaragua (Hanna) to the Secretary of State
[Received June 25.]
Sir: With reference to the Department’s telegram No. 139 of June 15, 1931, and previous correspondence on the subject of municipal elections to be held in Nicaragua this year, and concerning certain preliminaries to American supervision of the presidential elections of next year, I have the honor to transmit herewith copies and translations of correspondence exchanged between President Moncada and me on that subject.[Page 882]
In compliance with the Department’s instruction No. 135 of March 7, 1931, and following the receipt of the Department’s telegram No. 125 of May 27, 1931, I addressed a letter to President Moncada on May 27, 1931, a copy of which is enclosed,60 informing him of the resignation as Vice Chairman of the National Board of Elections of Commander Andrew S. Hickey, U.S.N., and requesting the designation of Major Charles F. B. Price, U.S.M.C., in his stead. A copy and translation of President Moncada’s acknowledgement, dated June 1, 1931, are likewise enclosed.60
During the interim between the dates of the two letters I had discussed the matter of elections with President Moncada and a majority of the members of the Supreme Court, with the results expressed in my telegram No. 91 of May 29, 1931.
Following the receipt of the Department’s telegrams No. 135 of June 11, 1931, and No. 139 of June 15, 1931, I addressed to President Moncada on June 16, 1931, two letters, copies of which are enclosed,61 the first expressing the opinion of the Government of the United States that Major Price should be present in Nicaragua prior to and during the municipal elections of 1931, to observe them and report on them, and the second expressing the willingness of the Department of State to request the resignation of Captain Johnson as Chairman of the National Board of Elections, and requesting assurances from the Government of Nicaragua that certain measures, including necessary changes, reforms, etc., to the Electoral Law of March 23, 1923, and the resignation of the Nicaraguan President of the National Board of Elections in favor of the American to be designated to supervise the Presidential Elections of 1932 be effected in ample time prior to those elections.
I have just received President Moncada’s reply, dated June 18, 1931, to my two letters of June 16, in which he accepts the Department’s proposal to send Major Price to Nicaragua to observe the municipal elections of 1931, and expresses the belief that Captain Johnson’s resignation as President of the National Board of Elections is desirable. A copy and translation of the letter are enclosed.
The President’s letter, while acceptable in the sense that it expresses agreement with certain of the Department’s suggestions, is in other respects not so satisfactory, in that it contains inaccuracies and statements capable of misinterpretation. For example, in the first paragraph of his letter President Moncada refers to a desire alleged to have been expressed in my first letter of June 16 that Major Price be appointed President of the National Board of Elections. The Department [Page 883]will note that in my acknowledgment of the President’s letter, enclosed herewith, I corrected this inaccuracy.
In his third paragraph President Moncada states that the Department of State, prior to the Presidential Election last year, “thought of extending the activities of the National Board of Elections, especially in municipal changes in the Department of Chontales”. It is my recollection that the Department at that time expressed its willingness that the National Board of Elections under the Presidency of Captain Johnson should supervise municipal elections in that Department if the Nicaraguan Government so desired, but that it was a matter for that Government’s decision.
In his fifth paragraph President Moncada appears to be of the impression that Major Price’s appointment as President of the National Board of Elections is still being requested, whereas my letter of June 16, to which the President’s letter refers, in its first paragraph states that “it obviously is not practicable to proceed further at this time with the proposed appointment of Major Charles F. B. Price, U.S.M.C., to the National Board of Elections under Article XVI of that decree”.
In the eighth paragraph of the President’s letter he refers to the wish of the Department of State that he make a new statement regarding the necessity of an American President of the National Board of Elections during the next Presidential election. I expressed no such wish in either of my letters to which he refers. In my second letter of June 16, 1931, I expressed the Department’s wish, set forth in its telegram No. 139 of June 15, 1931, for assurances that certain preliminaries to the supervision of the Presidential elections of 1931, including the resignation of the Nicaraguan President of the Board in favor of the American to be named, be effected in ample time prior to the elections. It was doubtless this statement which the President had in mind.
While it would appear that the misstatements and inaccuracies in the President’s letter should be cleared for the sake of the record, I shall make no attempt to do this on my own initiative, since the destruction of the Legation’s archives has made it impossible to make concise references to documents which the Legation formerly possessed. It is believed, however, that the Department has in its possession material with which to clear the record if it considers this step desirable.
From the general tone of President Moncada’s letter, and especially from the contents of the last paragraph, in which he refers to the acquiescence of Congress and the Judicial Power as part of the support for the suspension of the fundamental laws of the Republic, I have gained the impression that the President may be preparing legal [Page 884]grounds on which the Nicaraguan Government may object to possible changes in the Electoral Law prior to the 1932 elections. It will be remembered in this connection that the amendment covering the election of 1930 was made by executive decree, without reference to Congress, and was not officially submitted to the Supreme Court. The Department will likewise note, in this connection, that the President in his letter does not give the assurance requested by the Department that the necessary changes, alterations, etc., in the Electoral Law of 1923 will be made in ample time prior to the elections of 1932.
With reference to the fourth paragraph of the Department’s telegram No. 135 of June 11, 1931, instructing me to make certain changes in the text of the “Statement of Policy with respect to the Elections in Nicaragua between now and November, 1932”, I wish to state that it is my intention to delay releasing that statement until informed by the Department of the date on which it will make it public in the United States. I would therefore appreciate receiving telegraphic advice of that date.