817.00/7945: Telegram

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

64. Last night I was present at a conference between the President and General Somoza at which it was agreed (1) that Somoza should conduct thorough investigation as to parties responsible for killing of Sandino and make prompt report to the President, and (2) that cordial cooperation must exist between the President and the General. There was extended discussion on both of these points but at the close of the conference I felt that relations between them had been considerably improved.

This morning Somoza stated to me:

He had last night called in the three officers who had assisted in carrying out the plan for the capture and killing of Sandino and had told them that the President insisted that the guilty party or parties be punished and that while he realized that the whole Guardia is responsible, somebody must assume the guilt. Each of the three officers offered [to] admit guilt but it was finally decided that one of them who has but one arm and whom I had recognized outside of the Salvatierra house immediately after the shooting there, should bear the brunt (first, because it was realized that I had recognized him, and second because it was hoped that the public would not be out of sympathy with a light punishment to a crippled officer).
He would issue to press a statement affirming his loyalty and that of the Guardia to the President.
There has been movement on foot among the President’s supporters to replace Somoza by General Abaunza (now chief of staff), a journalist from Léon whose relations with Somoza are strained.
As a proof of his loyalty to the President he offered that the President should have a man of his confidence in the office of the Chief of the Guardia to act as liaison officer and specifically suggested Crisanto Sacasa.

This afternoon I saw the President in company with Federico Sacasa. The latter read to me Somoza’s proposed statement and indicated that it had his approval. It is to the effect that Somoza will cause a minute investigation to be made, that the incident is deplorable and that the President is in no way implicated. The President did not indicate his views. I understand from Universal Press correspondent, however, that Somoza released text to press this evening (it will not be published here until tomorrow evening as newspapers will not [Page 535] appear tonight). I transmitted to the President Somoza’s suggestion regarding Crisanto Sacasa. Federico Sacasa said that this would be an excellent move and would create a good impression on the public. The President’s brother said that the best means of Somoza proving his loyalty would be by deeds and suggested that Somoza turn over copies of his codes to the President (at present the President said his office is unable to decipher telegrams received for the Guardia).

On leaving the President I conferred with Somoza and suggested as proof of his loyalty that he enable the President to have recourse to all messages. Somoza then offered to give copies of his codes to the President. He likewise said that if the President distrusted him he would resign immediately together with all of his officers and men. (He admitted that the President would be justified in distrusting him as a result of action taken.)