817.00 Bandit Activities/505

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

No. 875

Sir: I have the honor to refer to despatch No. 579 of July 30, 1932, from the Legation at Tegucigalpa, a copy of which has been received by this Legation.

I have read the despatch referred to with great interest and have found in it much material of value to this Legation.

As previously reported, this Legation has not failed to impress upon the Nicaraguan Government its belief that the appointment of a Nicaraguan representative to Tegucigalpa is the logical initial step in any endeavor to induce the Honduran Government to furnish greater cooperation on the Honduran-Nicaraguan border in connection with the Nicaraguan campaign against banditry. Not later than last week I discussed this subject with the Minister of Foreign Affairs who pointed out to me however that in the present confused political situation in Nicaragua it was extremely doubtful that President Moncada could obtain the services of a man of the character desired to go to Tegucigalpa. I believe that it can be taken for granted in this connection that it is preferable to have no representative than to have other than one of the highest character, who can be counted upon to represent his country in a fitting manner.

The Legation has been devoting a good deal of thought to the question of possible developments in Nicaraguan-Honduran relations following the withdrawal of the American Marines from Nicaragua. The presence of banditry in Nicaragua, and the manner in which banditry is facilitated by the proximity of Honduran territory to the field of bandit operations, have naturally intensified the chronic bad feeling existing between Honduras and Nicaragua arising largely out of the unsettled boundary dispute between the two countries.

Since the inception of banditry in Nicaragua this increased bad feeling has been noticeable, apparently in both countries. That it has not resulted in overt acts by one or the other of the parties, and probably in the severance of relations between the two countries, has [Page 937] been due largely to the conciliatory role played by the American Legations here and in Tegucigalpa.

The fact that the Nicaraguan Guardia Nacional has been commanded by American officers has had a powerful restraining influence on the Nicaraguan Government. The possibility of an open break between the two countries will be vastly increased after the Guardia is turned over to Nicaraguan control. Furthermore there appears at the present time to be little possibility that any marked improvement in the bandit situation may be expected in the near future. Sandino, as is known, has expressed his intention to continue opposition to whatever candidate becomes President of Nicaragua in 1933 as a result of American-supervised elections. On the other hand, there are indications that he would be willing to enter into some arrangement under which he would terminate his warlike activities. The possibility of terminating banditry in this manner has been discussed recently among Nicaraguans here, and definite steps with that in view may be taken after the presidential candidates have been selected.

The Legation has contemplated the possible advantages of a formal agreement between the two countries permitting the armed forces of each to cross into the territory of the other in hot pursuit of bandits, similar to that between the United States and Mexico which was effective in limiting depredations on our Mexican frontier some years ago. There is a question in my mind, however, as to whether the dangers of misunderstanding and conflict arising out of such an agreement might overshadow any advantage to be obtained from it.

The Legation considers that the logical time to send a Nicaraguan representative to Honduras, in view of existing conditions here, will be after the inauguration of the new President in January.

Respectfully yours,

Matthew E. Hanna