817.00/7956: Telegram

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

76. The President told me last night that despite the protest of allegiance on the part of the Guardia, as reported in my telegram 70, February 25, 4 p.m., he did not have sufficient confidence in Somoza and his men to refrain from the steps which are now being taken to transform the Casa Presidencial into what is nothing less than an armed camp: trenches having been dug on the crest of the hill, sand bags and machine guns are in evidence, and at night even the reception rooms of the Palace are guarded by armed forces, none of whom are regularly of the Guardia. The President told me that many of the armed men who were from the streets of Managua wished to show their loyalty by offering to defend him. Sacasa said that he could not well refuse their request as they would be offended. What the President does not apparently realize is that it is of vital importance for him not to continue to irritate the Guardia with preparations for defense against them. Responsible people of Managua with whom I have talked have read the statements of Sacasa and Somoza, the oaths of allegiance of the Guardia, the order to the Guardia today, and are at a loss to reconcile them with the maintenance of an arsenal in the President’s house against the very organization which has been set up to defend him.

I have decided it is the indecisive character of the President which makes it difficult if not impossible for him to proceed in a strong and courageous manner. Unfortunately he is surrounded by influences which I fear are not for the good of the country: persons who wish to humiliate Somoza regardless of the consequences. The President did admit to me however that an excellent effect should be created by Somoza’s order of today but on the other hand he does not act as though he were willing to do his part in endeavoring to restore harmonious relations. The situation as to Somoza seems to have improved. He has assured me of his loyalty to the President but whether he is strong enough to withstand Moncada’s influence I am not confident. (Somoza told me last night that Moncada had come to Managua on February 21 for the purpose of bringing the Sandino matter [Page 541] to a head and that he called on me that day with a view to showing the public that the action had the support of the United States. The fact that he lunched with me, although others were present, may have enhanced the impression which it is alleged he wished to create.)

The Minister for Foreign Affairs who spoke to the Secretary at Montevideo regarding the desirability of changing the present organization of the Guardia54 stated to me this morning, when I told him that our policy of nonrecognition of revolutionary governments had not been changed, that this fact should be made known, as it is felt by many here that we are supporting the Guardia which is our creation. Cordero Reyes, formerly Chief Justice and also a member of the Nicaragua Delegation at Montevideo, told me today that our policy of nonrecognition would be the greatest influence for tranquility.

Doctor Argüello said that he regarded the situation as “most grave” principally because of the indecision of the President in taking action with respect to the reorganization of the Guardia. Cordero Reyes referred to its development into a politico-military organization which controls not only the results of the elections which it was supposed impartially to supervise but dominates the Executive in the administration of the country.

Despite the gravity of the situation there is no disorder here, merely a feeling of tenseness and anxiety.

  1. See instruction No. 7, December 28, 1933, to the Minister in Nicaragua, Foreign Relations, 1933, vol. v, p. 849.