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

No. 236

Sir: The receipt is acknowledged of your despatch No. 770, of March 15, 1935, regarding the general political situation in Nicaragua, in which you request instructions concerning the nature of the reply which you may make if questioned as to whether the United States would extend recognition to a government coming into power “illegally”.

This Government obviously cannot comment in advance regarding the possibility of its extending or denying recognition to a regime which may assume power in a given country and you are authorized to make this clear in response to any questions which may be directed to you on the subject.

For your strictly confidential information, it is the Department’s opinion, with reference to the second full paragraph on page six of your despatch,51 that Article II, paragraph 2, of the General Treaty of Peace and Amity of 1923, is not intended to result in the denial of recognition to a president who may have been elected constitutionally, even though he may have been a secretary of state or held a high military command during the six months preceding his election. It is believed that the intent of the first paragraph of Title 2, Article II, is to deny recognition to such a person if he should have reached the presidency through a coup d’état or a revolution, even though his assumption of the presidency should subsequently have been confirmed by an election.

For your strictly confidential information also, the Department believes, with reference to the last paragraph appearing on page six of your despatch,52 that the language of Article XVIII of the Treaty is sufficiently clear to warrant the view that if one of the three remaining adherents to the Treaty should notify the others of its intention to denounce it, such denunciation would not be effective until one year after the date on which notification had been given.

Very truly yours,

For the Secretary of State:
Sumner Welles
  1. Paragraph beginning “According to the General Treaty of Peace and Amity of 1923…”, p. 846.
  2. Paragraph beginning “Insofar as recognition is concerned…”, p. 846.