The Minister in Nicaragua ( Lane ) to the Secretary of State
[Received September 6.]
Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the Department’s telegram No. 39 of August 26, 5 p.m., informing me that the [Page 869] alleged interview referred to by La Prensa and reported in my despatch No. 979–A of August 13, never took place. I entirely concur in the opinion that a denial “after the considerable time that has elapsed since the publication of the original article” would be unwise. The Department should have received by this time my despatch No. 1005 of August 21,75 in which I expressed my belief that because of the question having died down for the time being in the local press, it would be advisable for me not to make any statement, at least for the time being.
I very much appreciate the Department’s willingness to consider authorizing me to make a statement referring to recent articles in which false references had been made to the Department or to the Legation, in which statement the Legation would reiterate the determination of the United States not to interfere in the internal affairs of Nicaragua, and that reports to the contrary are obviously untrue. It is my belief, however, that if such a public statement should include the “giving notice that the Legation does not intend in the future to dignify any reports of this character which may be published by specific denial”, it would be preferable to say nothing. An expression along the lines of the last quoted clause would, it appears, leave the way clear to leading politicians and their supporters to reiterate, as they have circulated the rumor in the past, that the United States is supporting the candidacy of one of their number, without our being able, as is now the case, to issue a denial.
During the past few months I have on several occasions been constrained to warn one of the more ambitious and headstrong candidates for the presidency that unless he or his followers should cease disseminating the report of our support of his candidacy, I should be forced make a statement, pointing out that the United States is favoring no candidate for the presidency. The fact that this report has in recent weeks been, according to my best information, far less frequently repeated, leads me to believe that the pressure exerted by my verbal cautioning has had a salutary effect.
In view of the fact that the organization with which this presidential candidate is intimately identified was virtually created by the United States Government and has, according to general public opinion, been a favorite child of the Department of State and of this Legation in the past, it is not surprising that the circulation of reports indicating our favoring this particular candidate and his “nonpartisan” political machinery should be given credence in Nicaragua and elsewhere in Central America.
On August 27, when I brought to the attention of the President the first two sentences of the Department’s telegram under acknowledgment, [Page 870] Dr. Sacasa expressed his disappointment that the Department had decided not to authorize a statement and made a remark, somewhat lacking in pertinence and accuracy, to the effect that he had supported the Department in his statement published in the local press, and that the Department should now support him. He then changed his line of approach and suggested that I should write him a letter, setting forth that the alleged conversations between his representatives and the Department had never taken place. He said that this letter would be merely for his files and for his personal satisfaction. I said that I should submit to him the draft of such a letter on August 29 for his suggestions, and would inform him in due course as to whether the Department approved the text. I have the honor, accordingly, to transmit herewith a draft letter76 and should appreciate the Department’s reply by air mail, as to whether I may send such a communication to the President. While the President said to me on August 29 that he had no intention “for the present” of publishing the letter, the possibility of its eventual publication will presumably be borne in mind by the Department in considering the text thereof.
The letter, as originally drafted, contained the following paragraph, immediately following the first paragraph:
“As you well know, the United States Government is determined not to interfere in the internal affairs of Nicaragua. Reports to the contrary are obviously untrue”.
As the President objected to the reference to intervention, I deleted the whole paragraph. It occurs to me that Dr. Sacasa, who was, at least theoretically, opposed to intervention by the United States, during his forced absence from the country following the coup d’état of General Chamorro in 1925,77 will probably within the next sixteen months wish in vain for the support or intervention of the United States in order to help him through a difficult period, and for this reason would prefer not to approve a policy to which he must know we will adhere. Furthermore, he might feel that an emphasis of our non-intervention policy might encourage some of his political adversaries to take steps to satisfy their political ambitions by forcible or other extra-constitutional action.