Memorandum by the Assistant Chief of the Division of Latin American Affairs (Beaulac)

I lunched with Dr. Sacasa and Dr. De Bayle, at the invitation of the latter. Dr. Sacasa, for two hours, endeavored to induce me to give him some “advice” with reference to the situation in Nicaragua. I told him repeatedly that I could give him none, and said nothing to him which could be interpreted as giving advice or expressing an opinion. None of us went into any details as to what the “situation” was. I made no reference to any reports from Nicaragua. Neither Dr. De Bayle nor Dr. Sacasa made any reference to the recent developments which had been reported by the Legation at Managua.

Dr. Sacasa argued that we had a measure of “responsibility” for what the Guardia did, since we created it. He contended that we could not evade that responsibility. I replied that we had no responsibility for what the Guardia did; the intervention had ended on January 2, 1933,83 in agreement with the Nicaraguans; the Secretary of State had made public announcement84 at that time that henceforth our relations with Nicaragua were on the same basis as our relations with all other countries; that in seeking advice from me and requesting an opinion, Dr. Sacasa was in fact seeking to prolong or revive the intervention.

Dr. Sacasa said that of course he would like me to speak to him as a friend and not as an official of the American Government. I told him that I could not disassociate myself from my official position and that, even though I could, my opinion would be worth nothing, since I could not pretend to be aware of all the circumstances entering into the situation in Nicaragua.

He said that a word of advice or an opinion would not constitute intervention. I said anything of that nature which I or any other official of the American Government might say would be capable of interpretation as intervention. He said our silence at this time might also be interpreted as a kind of intervention, that is, as acquiescence in whatever might be done. I said that it could only be thus interpreted by people in Nicaragua if their leaders tried to give it that interpretation, and there was no justification for their doing so inasmuch as we had, on numerous occasions, expressed our determination not to intervene in Nicaraguan affairs.

He said that the withdrawal of the Marines had been premature and that that circumstance increased our responsibility. I said that [Page 878] the withdrawal of the Marines had been announced some two years in advance and had been carried out in agreement with the Nicaraguan authorities. Under the circumstances it could not be deemed premature and we would accept no responsibility for the reason alleged.

He asked me if there was not something I could say to him regarding the desires of the American Government. I said that the American Government earnestly hoped that peace would be preserved in Nicaragua and that it was my opinion that the only durable peace would be one arrived at through the efforts of the Nicaraguans themselves.

He said that at a time like this, some friendly advice from the United States was necessary. I said that what he was saying was tantamount to admission that Nicaragua was incapable of self-government. I asked him whether he was ready to say that. He said that he was not, although sometimes it occurred to him that such was the case. Dr. De Bayle said that he was not willing to admit that Nicaragua was incapable of self-government, and agreed that the only lasting solution to Nicaragua’s difficulties would be one arrived at between the Nicaraguans themselves.

Dr. Sacasa insisted repeatedly on some personal “advice” or “opinion” from me, which I declined to give.

Several references were made, during the conversation, to our attitude in connection with the 1923 treaty, if General Somoza engineered a coup d’état. I said that the United States could not make a commitment regarding its attitude in a hypothetical situation. I referred to the recent British note to France regarding the British attitude if France were attacked by another power, as an example of a government’s inability to commit itself in advance with reference to a hypothetical situation.

With reference to General Somoza, Dr. Sacasa said that he undoubtedly was the most popular of all the candidates and was very well liked by everyone and, personally, he would like nothing better than to see him reach the presidency. However, there are constitutional objections to this and it was naturally the Government’s high obligation to abide by the Constitution and laws of Nicaragua. I made no comment on this.

Dr. Sacasa said that he was returning to Nicaragua earlier than he expected because he was very much concerned over the situation and wanted to help if he could. He regretted that I would not help, too, since he had always considered me as one of Nicaragua’s best friends. I told him that I still considered myself one of Nicaragua’s best friends and that my sincere belief was that the best advice I could give Nicaraguans, or that anyone could give them for that matter, was to settle their own problems.

Our conversation was of the friendliest nature, and as we parted Dr. Sacasa said that he regretted that I hesitated to give him advice. [Page 879] I said that there was no hesitation at all on my part; that I was determined not to give him advice.

Willard L. Beaulac
  1. See Foreign Relations, 1932, vol. v, pp. 852 ff.; and ibid., 1933, vol. v, pp. 882 ff.
  2. Department of State, Press Releases, January 7, 1933, p. 3.