817.00/8287: Telegram

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

83. My 81.78 I was informed in strictest confidence this morning by person very close to the President that the latter’s advisers and associates will shortly force him to request Somoza’s resignation on the following grounds: continued humiliation of the President; lavish and unauthorized expenditures of Guardia; imprisonment without trials of electoral officials; carrying on campaign activities in spite of Presidential Decree and ineligibility of Somoza for Presidency for constitutional reasons; assassination of innocent persons.

My informant continued substantially as follows: Entire Cabinet with the exception of Minister of Public Instruction is in favor of move to oust Somoza. The President, however, is as yet ignorant of plan and will not be informed until all details are complete. Sacasa will then be persuaded to take action. Present plan is to call Somoza to the Presidency and request his resignation. If he refuses, force is to be used (Somoza told me this evening that he knows his life is in danger); in case Somoza makes a fight, the Government has the promise of material support from El Salvador and Honduras in airplanes and ammunition. If Somoza would go abroad substantial [Page 873] sum of money together with governmental post abroad would be offered him. Action will be taken prior to return of Federico Sacasa.79

When informant requested my cooperation I answered that I would not cooperate in a step which would probably bring civil war and ruin to Nicaragua; that I would not accept such a responsibility; and that every step should be taken to bring about understanding between Sacasa and Somoza. Informant stated with utmost emphasis “that is impossible”. When asked as to attitude of the United States in the event that Somoza would not yield, I reminded informant that intervention is a thing of the past; that this Legation cannot assume functions of the Government; and that wisest course would be to encourage to clarify and adjust differences of opinion. Impossibility of adjustment was again emphasized. I replied that in my opinion action resulting in warfare would be tantamount to suicide of President and family and ruin of Nicaragua as well. Rebuttal was that if Somoza becomes President civil war is bound to come in any case. I said that I could not agree with this argument and added that everybody should work for peace regardless of personal pride or political ambitions. According to informant Guardia commanders are loyal to the President in Leon, Esteli and Granada; airplanes from Honduras are prepared to bring munitions and to bomb Campo de Marte. Asked whether in case Somoza refused to resign, United States Government would insist that he obey President’s instructions, I said that I could not commit my Government. I expressed my impression that we would regard this as an internal matter which should be handled by Nicaragua. Informant then said with heat: “We will then depend on our neighbors”.

The foregoing taken in connection with my telegrams 80 and 81 of tonight indicates the gravity of the situation. The Government apparently does not realize any more than does the Guardia that neither enjoys general popularity, the former because of vacillation and grafting, the latter for the reasons mentioned in the first paragraph of this telegram.

…Whether divulging this information to me is in order to endeavor to involve us in the situation which may ensue I do not know.

Although my personal opinion is that request for removal of Somoza would very probably create national crisis with resultant disorders, I assume that the Nicaraguan Government should be allowed to take such steps as it considers advisable to meet the situation. Unless I am instructed to the contrary, I shall endeavor personally to prevent any ill-advised action tending to disturb the peace of the country.

Lane
  1. Not printed.
  2. The brother of the President was en route to the United States.