The Minister in Nicaragua (Lane) to the Secretary of State
[Received March 5.]
Sir: Supplementing my telegram No. 53, February 16, 5:00 P.M.,48 reporting the arrival of Sandino in Managua on that date, I have the honor to report that during the last few days very prolonged negotiations have been carried on with Sandino in the Presidential House with a view to arriving at a mutually satisfactory formula for dealing with the situation which has arisen with the termination on February 17 of the time limit of one year provided for in the peace pact of February 2, 1933. As has been previously reported General Somoza and the Guardia Nacional have strongly maintained the view that Sandino should now turn over all his arms and munitions, stating that such action would be in accordance with the terms of the peace pact. President Sacasa himself maintained a more conciliatory attitude, but without announcing publicly just what policy he intended to pursue.
In the local press of February 17, 1934, Sandino was reported to have said that he would not turn over his arms to the Guardia Nacional because of the unconstitutionality of that organization; and that he actually assumed this attitude seems to have been confirmed by subsequent press reports and by conversations I have had with officials close to the situation. General Somoza was admittedly resentful of this declaration attributed to Sandino, and has told me several times that he would like to “lock him up.” One result of the raising of this point by Sandino, namely, the alleged unconstitutionality of the Guardia Nacional, may be that the National Congress will finally decide to enact legislation designed to put the organization on a firm and unquestioned legal basis. The need for Congressional action was pointed out by Juan Ramon Aviles in an editorial in La Noticia of February 18, 1934. Whether or not this would bring before Congress the project of law for the Guardia Nacional submitted by General Matthews in [Page 529] 193249 before the withdrawal of the Marines it is impossible to state, but the need for some such action seems now more urgent than ever.
Doctor Salvador Calderón Ramirez50 has been taking part in the conversations with Sandino in the Presidential House, and has apparently exerted his influence on the side of reasonable conciliation. At the same time, if I may judge from the conversations I have had with him, he is somewhat disillusioned, and has referred in disparaging tones to Sandino’s intellectual capacity for expressing his ideas. A similar opinion was expressed the other day by Doctor Léonardo Argüello, Minister of Foreign Affairs, when he stated that he carefully listened to Sandino talk for half an hour, but was unable afterwards to express any opinion concerning what had been said because he did not know what had been said. High officials in the Government have manifested an impatience because so much time has been and is being spent in long negotiations with such a person. Finally, President Sacasa himself has given evidence of losing his patience and in speaking confidentially to me gave me the impression that he was inclined to take a firm stand and deal strongly with the situation.
In an interview which appeared in La Nueva Prensa of February 20, 1934, Sandino is reported to have said that the United States would like to get him out of the Rio Coco region in order that the land there might fall into American hands and serve as a source of food supply in the event of a war. No indication was given as to what may have prompted him to make such a statement.
According to reports received from Mr. John A. Willey, American Consular Agent in Matagalpa, there is considerable uneasiness in the Segovias with respect to Sandino’s future movements. The possibility of a general attack by Sandino and all his followers has been freely discussed, and worry is expressed lest bandit activities interfere with the remaining coffee shipments. The possibility of an attack on Matagalpa for the purpose of looting has even been suggested. Very little, if anything, has so far happened to justify such fears in that area, but there obviously exists a feeling of tense uncertainty.