817.00 Woodward Electoral Mission/3a: Telegram
The Secretary of State to the Chargé in Nicaragua ( Beaulac )
223. The President has designated Rear Admiral Clark H. Woodward as his Personal Representative in Nicaragua to head the American Electoral Mission and to be appointed by the Supreme Court of Nicaragua as Chairman of the National Board of Elections. Admiral Woodward, accompanied by Lieutenant Stephenson, will arrive in Managua by airplane on January 10 to spend 3 days on a preliminary visit in order to pay his respects to President Moncada and to meet other high officials of the Nicaraguan Government. He will then [Page 786] proceed to Panama to rejoin his command. After completion of his duties in connection with the fleet maneuvers in the Pacific he will return to Managua at the end of May or the first part of June to remain until the termination of his mission in connection with the supervision of the elections. Until Admiral Woodward is appointed by the Supreme Court and assumes office, he will not, of course, receive a salary from the Nicaraguan Government.
You will please apprise President Moncada of the foregoing, making such reference as you deem appropriate to the following:
- The letters exchanged by Moncada and Adolfo Benard in October, 1928, regarding the supervision of the 1932 elections by the United States (Your despatch 832, October 30, 1928);24
- Letter of February 12, 1929, from the Minister of Foreign Affairs to the Legation announcing an agreement with the Supreme Court of Justice by which that tribunal would appoint an American citizen previously designated by the President of the United States, as Chairman of the National Board of Elections, (Your despatch No. 914, February 13, 1929,25 pursuant to which the President designated Captain Johnson who was appointed by the Supreme Court on May 23, 1930);
- Your letter of June 16, 1931, to President Moncada 26 (a) informing him that if the Nicaraguan Government so desired, the Department would request the resignation of Captain Johnson as Chairman of the National Board of Elections so that a Nicaraguan might be appointed in his stead to conduct the municipal elections of 1931; (b) pointing out that the supervision of the 1932 presidential elections would necessitate the presence of an American as Chairman of the National Board of Elections and President Moncada’s reply of June 18, 1931 (Your despatch No. 405, June 20, 1931, enclosures 5 and 7).27
- Supreme Court decree of July 21, 1931, which accepted the resignation of Captain Johnson and appointed Doctor Aguado to the Chairmanship of the National Board of Elections. (Your despatch No. 434, July 22, 1931).28
- The clear understanding that the designation of Captain Johnson and the appointment of Doctor Aguado were in order that a Nicaraguan might be Chairman of the National Board of Elections during the municipal elections of 1931, and that when the time for holding the 1932 presidential elections approached Doctor Aguado would, in turn, resign so that an American, as requested by Nicaragua, could again be appointed Chairman to supervise the presidential elections. This is the same procedure as was employed in 1929 [Page 787] at the time of the resignation of General McCoy,29 and the appointment of Roman y Reyes, who, in turn, resigned in favor of Captain Johnson (Your telegram No. 177, June 28, 5 p.m.).30
The Department will issue on January 4 a press release regarding the appointment of Admiral Woodward, the text of which will be telegraphed to you for simultaneous release in Managua. You will please inform President Moncada of the Department’s intentions in this regard.
The Department desires you to discuss with President Moncada the question of the date when Admiral Woodward should be appointed by the Supreme Court of Nicaragua as Chairman of the National Electoral Board. It appears evident from sub-section 3 of the Executive Decree of July 26, 1930, which put into effect the electoral law of the same date,31 that when an American has been appointed by the Supreme Court as Chairman of the National Board of Elections and for the purposes of elections for supreme authorities, the provisions of the electoral law of 1930 automatically come into effect. Until such action is taken by the Supreme Court the Dodds’ Law will continue in force. In connection with this matter there are certain considerations to be borne in mind:
1) By decree 44 of August 31, 1931, President Moncada suspended municipal elections in the five departments of Nueva Segovia, Esteli, Matagalpa, Jinotega and Chontales, and proposed to submit to Congress a scheme for municipal elections in the above-mentioned departments. What are the intentions of President Moncada in this matter?
If these elections are to be held this spring they should of course take place under the provisions of the Dodds’ Law with a Nicaraguan as Chairman of the National Board of Elections (For your information, the Department would consider the presence of an American observer at these municipal elections desirable, as it was in the case of the municipal elections held November 1, 1931. Please do not inform the appropriate authorities of this until after receipt of instructions from the Department.) It would, therefore, appear advisable that Admiral Woodward should not be appointed Chairman of the National Board of Elections until after these municipal elections have been held, assuming of course that these elections, if held, will take place not later than next spring.
2) Under the Dodds’ Electoral Law, now in force, registration for the presidential elections would take place in March, 1932. It is of course highly important that this registration should be held under [Page 788] the supervision of the American Electoral Mission at such time as Admiral Woodward is the Chairman of the National Board of Elections. Under the provisions of Article 32, subsection e, of the 1930 electoral law, the date for registration for the presidential elections would be fixed by the National Board of Elections, and would probably be held about 60 days prior to the date of the elections. If, however, because of the possibility of municipal elections being held some time this spring it appears inadvisable to have Admiral Woodward appointed Chairman of the National Board of Elections until some date after March 1, it will obviously be necessary for the Nicaraguan Government to take appropriate action to postpone the date for holding the registration for the presidential elections.
Please discuss the foregoing points thoroughly with President Moncada and Doctor Aguado and report by cable.
- Foreign Relations, 1928, vol. iii, p. 510.↩
- Ibid, 1929, vol. iii, p. 646.↩
- Not printed.↩
- Enclosures 5 and 7 not printed; for despatch No. 405, see Foreign Relations, 1931, vol. ii, p. 881.↩
- Ibid., p. 887.↩
- See ibid., 1927, vol. iii, pp. 350 ff., and ibid., 1928, vol. iii, pp. 418 ff.↩
- Ibid., 1929, vol. iii, p. 650; see also telegram No. 39, May 8, 1930, to the Minister in Nicaragua, ibid., 1930, vol. iii, p. 636.↩
- See ibid., p. 651, footnote 13.↩