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

No. 316

Sir: Adverting to the Department’s instruction No. 86 of June 6, 1934, I have the honor to report that yesterday morning I took up with President Sacasa the general question of the embargo on the exportation of arms and munitions from the United States to Nicaragua. Specifically I referred to the shipment of ammunition referred to in the Department’s instruction No. 89 of June 15, 1934,74 a permit for which the Department granted for the Guardia Nacional. I was orally informed this morning by the Secretary of the Comandancia General that the Comandante General (the President) did not give authorization for this shipment and had no knowledge thereof.

When I suggested to the President the possibility of our lifting the embargo on the shipment of arms and munitions to Nicaragua, provided he had no objection, Doctor Sacasa immediately replied that the possibility of revolution would be increased by such action; that there would be no remaining check available to the Nicaraguan Government on arms shipments to Nicaragua, and that he hoped some other procedure would be adopted.

As an alternative I suggested (making it plain that I was speaking merely for myself and not for my Government) that in future all requests for exportation of arms and munitions to Nicaragua be made [Page 562] through the Nicaraguan Legation in Washington, which would be responsible to the Department for the authenticity of the purchase and for the approval thereof on the part of the Government of Nicaragua. The President indicated that such a procedure would be agreeable to him. (This was the procedure adopted by the Department during the disturbances in Mexico in 1929,75 the Mexican Embassy being responsible to the Department that shipments of arms and munitions approved by the Embassy should be in accordance with the wishes of the Mexican Government. It was the Department’s practice not to issue any export licenses unless the request was submitted through and had the approval of the Mexican Embassy in Washington.)

In view of the expressed feeling of President Sacasa I have the honor consequently to modify the recommendations contained in my despatch No. 224 of May 22, 1934. I respectfully suggest that in future no shipments to Nicaragua of war material be permitted by the United States Government unless such shipments are requested through and approved by the Nicaraguan Legation at Washington. Should requests be made of the respective Nicaraguan consular officers in the United States, it would be expected that such requests would be referred to the Legation for appropriate action.

I should appreciate it if the Department would advise me if and when it has determined the course it will follow in the future in this matter, furnishing me, as well, with the details of the procedure which is to be followed in each case, in order that confirmation may be effected at this end.

Because of recent political developments here, which resulted in my recommending that a statement of policy be made regarding our non-interference in Nicaraguan affairs (see page 1 of enclosure to my despatch No. 288 of June 23, 1934, reporting a telephone conversation on June 22 with Assistant Secretary Welles),76 adoption of the now recommended procedure would tend to emphasize the ideas underlying my statement of June 25,—that we do not support the political activities of the Guardia, that we do not regard the Guardia as a super-Government, and that the constitutionally constituted Government of Nicaragua is the normal channel through which we conduct our relations.

Respectfully yours,

Arthur Bliss Lane
  1. Not printed.
  2. For correspondence concerning the insurrection in Mexico, see Foreign Relations, 1929, vol. iii, pp. 336 ff.
  3. Despatch No. 288 not printed; but see telegram No. 131, June 22, 7 p.m., from the Minister in Nicaragua, p. 556.