817.00 Bandit Activities/462

The Secretary of State to the Chargé in Honduras (Higgins)

No. 305

Sir: The Department desires you to seek an early interview with President Mejía Colindres and, unless you perceive objection, to say to him substantially the following:

Information received by the Department from numerous sources over a period of many months indicates beyond reasonable doubt that Honduran territory is being used as a base by bandits operating in Nicaragua and by individuals plotting a revolution to overthrow the present Nicaraguan Government. It is constantly reported that bandit groups pursued by the Nicaraguan National Guard take refuge over the Honduran frontier, where they sell their booty, outfit themselves and receive assistance from their sympathizers in Honduras. Reports also allege that the Honduran authorities along the frontier are failing to take adequate measures to put a stop to this deplorable situation and chargés are even made that these authorities have assisted the bandits.

The Nicaraguan Government has on various occasions brought the foregoing situation to the attention of this Government, and this Government, particularly because of the fact that officers of its armed forces are instructing the Nicaraguan National Guard and serving with it against the bandits, feels compelled to bring the matter to the attention of the President of Honduras and to point out the necessity of some adequate action to cure this condition. This Government feels all the more impelled to call attention to the importance of this question because of the fact that the openly avowed intentions of the bandits and the leaders of revolt against Nicaragua are to obstruct the holding of the Nicaraguan elections for supreme authorities this autumn. The United States is making the necessary arrangements at the specific request of the Nicaraguan Government and the Nicaraguan political parties to supervise these elections,73 in an effort to give to Nicaragua the benefit of a free and fair election, and the Government of the United States is, therefore, particularly interested in seeing that the elections take place under conditions of peace and order and that every possible effort be made to suppress the activities of those individuals who are seeking to throw Nicaragua into a condition of disorder and chaos.

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It is further desired to call attention to the provisions of Article XIV of the General Treaty of Peace and Amity of 1923,74 which state in part as follows:

“Each of the Governments of the Republics of Central America, in the desire to maintain a permanent peace, agree not to intervene, under any circumstances, directly or indirectly, in the internal political affairs of any other Central American Republic; furthermore, not to permit any person, whether a national, Central American or foreigner, to organize or foment revolutionary activities within its territory against a recognized Government of any other Central American Republic. None of the Contracting Governments will permit the persons under its jurisdiction to organize armed expeditions or to take part in any hostilities which may arise in a neighboring country, or to furnish money or war supplies to the contending parties; the Contracting Governments bind themselves to adopt and dictate any effective measures, compatible with the political constitution of their countries, that may be necessary to avoid the occurrence of acts of this nature within their territory.”

There is, therefore, apart from any general considerations of comity, a definite treaty obligation on Honduras to take the steps necessary to clear up this situation in which armed movements against a friendly government are being prepared and assisted on Honduran territory.

The Department also desires you, provided you see no objection thereto, to discuss very discreetly with President Mejía the following:

The Honduran Government has recently complained, both to you and to the Nicaraguan Government, concerning alleged violations of Honduran territory by the Nicaraguan National Guard in pursuit of bandits across the Honduran frontier. If, however, the Honduran Government is unable or unwilling, for financial or other reasons, to take the necessary steps to fulfill its obligations to suppress the activities of bandits and plotters of revolution against Nicaragua on the Honduran side of the frontier, it becomes very difficult to regard sympathetically complaints from the Honduran Government against actions of the Nicaraguan constabulary in attempting themselves to put an end to these abuses. In this connection it is conceivable that the Honduran Government might be willing to raise no objection if detachments of the Nicaraguan National Guard should temporarily cross the frontier in hot pursuit of the bandits in an effort to abate this nuisance. It is of course understandable that the Honduran Government might not be in a position to grant its formal consent to such action, and it might even feel compelled to make a pro forma protest if the occasion arises, but it might nevertheless, in view of the special [Page 928] circumstances of this situation, agree tacitly to raise no fundamental objection to such a course.

After you have given careful consideration to the foregoing, if you perceive any objection to discussing any of the points mentioned with President Mejía Colindres, you will please telegraph the Department. In case you perceive no objection to a discussion along the lines indicated, you will then, after your conference with the President, report by telegraph to the Department.

Very truly yours,

For the Secretary of State:
Francis White
  1. See pp. 785 ff.
  2. Conference on Central American Affairs, Washington, December 4, 1922–February 7, 1923 (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1923), p. 287.