The Chargé in Nicaragua (Dawson) to the Secretary of State
[Received October 29.]
Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the Department’s instruction No. 146, of October 17, 1934,17 in regard to the proposed expenditure of funds appropriated by the Congress on June 18 and 19, 1934, respectively, for the continuation of the cooperative reconnaissance surveys for a proposed Inter-American Highway and for the survey and construction of this highway.
In compliance with the Department’s instruction under reference I addressed a note to the Nicaraguan Minister for Foreign Affairs under [Page 479] date of yesterday, setting forth the substance of the instruction insofar as it concerned the Nicaraguan Government, and delivered it in person. The Minister expressed marked interest in the readiness of the Government of the United States to continue cooperation on an increased scale in connection with the proposed highway but did not make any comments of note.
I also informed President Sacasa orally yesterday of the intentions of the Government of the United States and of the limitations on the manner in which the funds available will be expended. Doctor Sacasa also expressed gratification but commented that “one million dollars distributed over several countries will hardly be enough to more than scratch the surface.” To this I replied that material and equipment to that value carefully distributed would be of great assistance and reduce in large measure the expenditures of cooperating countries which could be concentrated in some measure on labor costs. The President then remarked that this was, of course, true. It was my impression from Doctor Sacasa’s statements that, unfortunately, he had previously shared the erroneous idea of some of the local newspapers that the United States would in effect pay the cost of the proposed highway in Nicaragua (the Legation’s despatch No. 533, of October 9, 191418).
Doctor Sacasa said that he would be glad to give his personal attention to the question of Nicaraguan cooperation in the instrument survey and would immediately request the copy of the report on the reconnaissance survey through Central American countries which was transmitted to the Nicaraguan Ministry of Foreign Affairs by the Legation on June 26, 1934, in compliance with the Department’s instruction No. 81, of May 28, 1934,18 in order that he might once more study the route. His comments on this were, however, quite different from those reported in the Legation’s despatch No. 438, of August 29, 1934, when he suggested a relocation of the line surveyed from the air. President Sacasa said that, in view of the poverty of his Government and the comparatively small amount appropriated by the Congress of the United States for construction purposes, the original route through the western and southern plains of Nicaragua seemed to him offhand more practicable than one through the more difficult and mountainous country around Matagalpa and in the Segovias although the latter would open up more country.
The President went on to say that it would be even better were construction in Nicaragua to be restricted to the stretches from Chinandeg to the Honduran border and from Granada to the Costa Rican border as there is a railroad from Chinandega to Granada. Making [Page 480] it clear that I had no instructions on the point, I told the President that it was my impression that the general intention in regard to the proposed Inter-American Highway was that it should be purely a highway and not a combination of highway and railroad and that, while I had not recently studied the various recommendations made at recent Pan American Conferences, I thought reference to them would show this to be the fact. President Sacasa agreed that this was probably true and said that he understood the logic of such a policy. He remarked parenthetically that the Guatemalan Government had not yet furnished the Nicaraguan Government with a copy of the document (acta) concerning the Inter-American Highway signed at the recent Central American Conference in Guatemala City (the Legation’s despatch No. 332, of July 17, 193421) and that he wondered whether there could be any ulterior motive behind this failure.
Doctor Sacasa ended his comments on the question by assuring me that he would have the Minister for Foreign Affairs advise me formally at the earliest possible date whether the Nicaraguan Government was prepared to accept the route laid down in the reconnaissance survey report with the understanding, of course, that the line as shown in the report is not a located line but is subject to deviations and revisions which might be agreed to between the engineers in charge of the final instrument survey and the engineers representing the Government of Nicaragua.