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

No. 471

Sir: Reference is made to your despatch No. 959 of November 7, 1932, with regard to the signing of an agreement by the Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates for the maintenance of the nonpartisan character of the Guardia Nacional during the next presidential period.

The Department is pleased to learn of the signing of this agreement since it has always considered the continuance of the non-partisan basis of the Guardia to be essential to the efficiency and prestige of that force. The Department is appreciative of your efforts in connection with this matter, and desires to commend you for their successful conclusion.

In studying the draft of the basic law of the Guardia, enclosed with your despatch No. 960 of November 7, the Department has noticed what appears to be an inconsistency with one of the bases of the recently signed agreement regarding the non-partisan character of the Guardia. Article 3, part 3, of the proposed basic law reads in part: “All promotions of officers from one rank to another shall be made by seniority …” Subsequent articles provide the conditions under which such promotion shall be made.

The second article of the recently signed agreement provides that “the non-partisan character of the Guardia Nacional shall be strictly maintained … in each grade of commissioned officers, except the grade of Jefe Director, and all vacancies shall be filled so as to maintain this non-partisan character.” Moreover, in your identical letters of November 3, 1932,66 to Dr. Sacasa and General Chamorro, which [Page 901] the Department notes are to be considered as “documents clarifying the intent and scope” of the recently signed agreement, it is stated as fundamental that “(3) The continuance of the Guardia Nacional on a non-partisan basis makes it imperative that the officers in each grade (excepting the grade of Jefe Director) shall be equally divided between members of the two historic political parties and that the equal division be maintained” and “(6) Any vacancy in the commissioned strength, however created, shall be filled by the appointment of an officer selected from the same political party as that to which the officer creating the vacancy belonged at the time such latter officer was originally commissioned in the Guardia Nacional, thus maintaining the equal division between the two political parties of the officers in each grade.”

If the Department views the matter correctly, there is here a contradiction between the provisions in the proposed basic law and in the recent Guardia agreement. According to the former promotions are to be made by seniority; according to the latter all vacancies “however created” are to be filled in a manner which might involve the promotion of a junior officer instead of a senior officer from the rank next below.

If the maintenance of a non-partisan or more strictly of a bipartisan Guardia is to involve the promotion of junior over senior officers, the Department is apprehensive lest the morale and discipline of the Guardia be seriously undermined.

Since General Matthews and yourself doubtless have recognized this apparent contradiction and have in mind some changes to bring the recently signed agreement regarding the Guardia in conformity with the proposed basic law, or vice versa, the Department would be interested in receiving your comments in this matter.

Very truly yours,

For the Secretary of State:
Francis White
  1. See p. 882.