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

No. 927

Sir: For many months there has been evident a growing sentiment in both the political parties in Nicaragua favoring some sort of cooperation between the parties to insure peace and political stability in the country following the withdrawal of the United States marines early in 1932.46 It appears to be the unanimous opinion of all classes of Nicaraguans, including the leaders as well as the rank and file of both parties that at the best Nicaragua will be faced with a grave situation at that time, perhaps as grave as it has ever been called upon to confront in all its turbulent history. Three principal factors may be cited as accounting for this opinion: first, the history of the failure of the parties to live in peace with each other without the presence of Americans in Nicaragua; the existence of a serious bandit situation in a number of Departments which is being held in check only by the most strenuous efforts of a Guardia Nacional at present officered by trained Americans; the circumstance that the present plan of evacuation of marines contemplates that all, including all the Americans now serving as officers in the Guardia Nacional, will be evacuated not later than January 2, that is, one day after the new President takes office, and before he can fairly be expected to have organized his new government.

There is a practically unanimous desire on the part of all classes that the Marines be permitted to stay here a longer time, but since they have been given no hope that this desire will be met, the necessity of some kind of cooperation among themselves, and principally between the parties, has become increasingly evident if Nicaragua is not again to be plunged into general civil strife and perhaps anarchy.

[Page 834]

President Moncada first voiced the need of a “national government” in 1933 [1931], at least a year ago. As the Department knows, he campaigned vigorously and tenaciously for an agreement between the Liberal Party, or a portion of the Liberal Party, and the Conservative Party to form a “national government”, even going so far as to recommend that no elections for President be held in 1932, but that a coalition government be chosen by agreement between the parties.

However, there were strong reasons to believe that President Moncada was not so much interested in maintaining peace between the parties as in himself dictating the choice of the next President, with the hope of continuing himself in power in one way or another, and the mass of the Liberal Party declined to associate itself with him. His continued efforts produced a definite split in the Party, which has only recently been healed.

Once the two parties had definitely decided to participate as parties in the approaching presidential elections, and had named their candidates, however, leaders of both showed a disposition and a desire to arrive at some plan of cooperation to insure peace and stability after the withdrawal of the marines in 1933. Practically all the important leaders of both parties have at one time or another expressed this desire in conversations with me and have even suggested that the Legation assist them in arriving at a satisfactory agreement.

I have listened to them with great interest and have told them that any agreement which should be mutually satisfactory to them, and was made by them of their own free will, to aid in ensuring peace and order in Nicaragua, would naturally be learned of with satisfaction in the United States, but that of course the matter was an internal one, in which the United States could not intervene, nor accept any responsibility.

When the Legation’s attitude was made clear to the Party leaders who had consulted with it they intensified their efforts to reach an agreement. They were assisted by a group consisting largely of members of the old “Progressive Party”, including men generally opposed to intervention by the United States in Nicaraguan affairs. These men formed what they called a Patriotic Group (Grupo Patriotico), and at their invitation a number of the principal leaders of the two Parties, including Dr. Sacasa and General Chamorro, met at the home of one of their number on the evening of October 3, to discuss a concrete plan of cooperation, based principally on the pacification of Nicaragua and the representation of minorities in the new Government.

Dr. Sacasa, the Liberal candidate for the presidency, called on me [Page 835] on October 5, and showed me an original copy of an agreement which had been signed by the principal leaders present. A copy of this agreement is attached. It will be seen that the general program, the details of which have not been generally divulged, but which Dr. Sacasa says include minority representation in the cabinet, courts, appointive offices such as that of Jefe Politico, etc., and the pacification of Nicaragua, have been accepted as a point of departure for further discussion. It was agreed that the Patriotic Group would extend invitations to the National and Legal Governing Boards of both Parties to continue the discussions on behalf of their Parties in order to reach a final agreement on the basis of the principles set forth above. General Chamorro informed me this morning that the Conservative Board had already received its invitation and that he hoped that it would take action today. He anticipated that the Board would delegate a Committee from its members to represent it in the discussions with the Liberal Board.

As has been noted, an important part of the program is the pacification of Nicaragua, that is, the elimination of banditry. In this connection, one Dr. Escolastica Lara, an alternate Senator from Leon and a well-known anti-interventionist closely associated in his expressed ideas with the members of the Patriotic Group which have brought about the present understanding between the Parties, is now in Honduras, and it is generally believed that his visit may have as its object communication with Sandino. The Legation has no information that there is any connection between his visit and the recent acts of the Patriotic Group but it is significant that General Chamorro told me confidentially some weeks ago that Dr. Lara had approached him in an unsuccessful effort to bring about cooperation between Sandino and the Conservative Party in the present electoral campaign. Dr. Sacasa, on the other hand, professed ignorance of Dr. Lara’s mission and said he had had no contact with him.

While he openly professes extreme nationalistic views and in particular is opposed to the presence of American armed forces, Dr. Lara is considered to be opposed to violence in general as a means to obtaining his ends. The suggestion that he hopes to induce Sandino to lay down his arms in exchange for some concession from the next government is therefore plausible in view of the important role taken by the Grupo Patriotico, closely affiliated with him in ideas and political aims, in furthering a plan of cooperation between the Parties which includes the pacification of Nicaragua.

I will keep the Department closely informed of developments in this matter.

Respectfully yours,

Matthew E. Hanna
[Page 836]

Copy of Agreement Between Representatives of the Two Parties in Nicaragua

In the city of Managua, at 9 p.m. October 3, 1932,—The undersigned, doctor Juan Bautista Sacasa, General Emiliano Chamorro, Dr. Rodolfo Espinosa R., Dr. Carlos Cuadra Pasos and Dr. Leonardo Arguello, having met in the house of Dr. Rosendo Arguello, at the invitation of the Patriotic Group, don Sofonías Salvatierra, in the name of this Group, explained the purposes of its organization and presented the attached Bases, which in the judgment of the Group, may be taken as a point of departure in order that the two great political entities of the country discuss and agree to a plan of cooperation in order to assure due representation of minorities and obtain permanent stability of national peace,


Upon the motion of General Emiliano Chamorro, to accept in general the Bases, referred to, proposed by the Patriotic Group;
Upon the motion of Doctor Juan Bautista Sacasa, of General Chamorro and of Dr. Carlos Cuadra Pasos:—that said Bases be immediately submitted by the Group in a formal invitation to the Boards of both Parties in order that they may reach an agreement concerning the vital national political problem of cooperation of the Parties, majority and minority, and to recommend to them that they first of all reach an agreement between the two Parties to unite to settle the question of the pacification of Nicaragua, as an urgent and fundamental necessity for the country and to assure at the same time the future peace of the Republic.
To sign four identical copies.
  • E. Chamorro
  • Leonardo Argüello
  • Juan B. Sacasa
  • Rodolfo Espinosa R.
  • Carlos Cuadra Pasos
  1. See pp. 852 ff.