817.00 Woodward Electoral Mission/57: Telegram

The Minister in Nicaragua (Hanna) to the Secretary of State

69. Department’s telegram No. 42, April 29, 6 p.m. I have not yet discussed the subject of electoral expense with this Government and there are reasons why doing so at this time is inadvisable.

President Moncada’s insistence on a total reform of the Constitution,40 however, is attributed by some informed Nicaraguans to his belief that [if?] a Constituent Assembly should be [called?] in the present year the United States would not supervise the November elections. One of the pre-convention candidates of the Liberal Party for the presidency told me this morning that the conviction is growing that President Moncada hopes to attain his end by creating a situation such that the United States will not supervise the elections.

I have had two long conversations with President Moncada since my return, in which I gave him ample opportunity to discuss the supervision but he avoided the subject and seemingly his evasion of it was intentional. Because of the nature of the political controversy raging here I have not thought it advisable to initiate and press the subject, pending a more favorable atmosphere, which may be created in the near future.

The President’s recent message, submitting the subject of constitutional reform to Congress has aroused bitter controversy, but my information is that the President is decidedly in the minority in this matter and may be compelled to abandon the subject within a reasonable time.

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My attitude is that the supervision will be made unless the President should by chance succeed in his plans for a Constituent Assembly and that this Government, in requesting the supervision, has of course committed itself to bearing its portion of the expense. The supervisions of 1928 and 1930 furnished this Government with a basis to estimate what that expense will be, and I assumed that the Department’s estimate for this year is proportionately less than for the other two supervisions. I consider the commitment of this Government in this matter of expense to be a fact and I anticipate no insuperable difficulty in obtaining the funds as they are needed, presumably at the rate of approximately $15,000 per month over period of 7 months.

I have reason to fear that a discussion of this subject with President Moncada at this time might inject a new element into the political discussion which would not be unwelcome to the President and his supporters, in that it might furnish him with a useful argument against the supervision.

For the foregoing reasons I believe it desirable to delay discussion of the subject until a more favorable opportunity and preferably to treat it as a subject requiring no discussion unless the matter is brought up by this Government. I would appreciate the Department’s further instructions.

  1. See pp. 766 ff.