817.1051/820: Telegram

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

82. My 80, March 1, 3 p.m. This afternoon when I called on Minister of Hacienda at Presidential Palace to acquaint him with contents of Department’s instruction No. 3557 he said that the President desired to see me. When the President received me he said that the order which had been suggested last evening was ready to be signed, he having seen this morning General Somoza who was in agreement with the terms thereof. I said to the President that I understood from what he had said this morning that bill was to be presented to Congress. He said that I must have misunderstood him and at that time I did not doubt that this was the case. The order is substantially in the same terms as the draft law reported in my 79, February 28, 5 p.m., with two exceptions. Section 5 now provides merely that all extraordinary expenses of the Guardia shall be approved by the Commanding General. That part of section 7 which referred to expenditures has been omitted. The President said the order which would be signed immediately by him and countersigned by the Minister of Gobernación would be communicated to General Somoza this evening in the presence of the diplomatic representatives of the American countries, the idea being that our being witnesses to the ceremony would strengthen the President’s position. I repeated to the President that my presence at such a meeting was not to be interpreted as approving the order but that I would be glad to associate myself with my colleagues in any proper way to bring about peace.

The President asked me to get in touch with my American colleagues and also with Somoza. On talking with the Minister of Mexico I found that he had the same impression as I regarding the conversation this morning, namely, that the President expressed his intention of having a bill submitted to Congress. The Minister of El Salvador however expressed the opinion that the President was not clear as to whether a law or an order would be issued. A meeting of the American representatives [having?] been fixed at 8 p.m. at the Palace, I called on Somoza to acquaint him with what we understood to be the intention, for the President to summon him to the Palace accompanying my colleagues and myself showing that harmony exists and that the order had his (Somoza’s) approval. Somoza told me that the changes made in the order as mentioned above were suggested by him and that the reason a bill was not introduced in Congress was because it was learned that the Conservatives and Moncadistas would defeat it.

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The ceremony at the Palace was simple. The President, having read to us the signed decree, requested Somoza to swear his loyalty to him and to promise obedience before the representatives of friendly countries. Somoza complied with good grace even though it seemed to me that the manner in which the remarks were made to him was humiliating in character. Somoza invited the President and the diplomatic corps to a parade of the Guardia tomorrow to be reviewed by the President.

Although the President has probably strengthened his position in the country through this submission on paper on the part of Somoza, the problem appears to be unsolved as long as the President’s lack of confidence as at present requires him to maintain extraordinary war measures about the Palace. Even this afternoon the President indicated to me that he could never have confidence again in Somoza.

The tension this evening is sensibly relieved. The President’s action and compliance therewith on the part of Somoza have undoubtedly contributed thereto.

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