817.00/8386: Telegram

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

57. Your telegrams regarding political developments in Nicaragua have been helpful and informative and I appreciate your conveying to me promptly the reports you have received. I hope you will continue to keep me informed of the situation.

Your reports appear to indicate a continuation of a situation which has existed for some time and which has long threatened to precipitate a serious political crisis. Under the circumstances it may be helpful briefly to recapitulate our present policy with Nicaragua in order that you may have the benefit of a precise statement that will serve you as a guide.

From 1912 to 1932, inclusive, American Marines were almost continuously stationed in Nicaragua, and during this period, which was marked by intense political friction between the Conservative and Liberal Parties, the American Legation frequently endeavored to solve internal crises. The result was continual interference in and often domination of Nicaragua’s internal affairs.

With the withdrawal of the Marines on January 2, 1933,55 it was announced that any special relationship which had existed between the United States and Nicaragua had terminated. Our relations with Nicaragua today are on exactly the same basis as our relations with other countries, that is, on a basis of full friendship and scrupulous respect of sovereignty. To continue this relationship, we must refrain from interference in Nicaragua’s internal affairs even though such interference is requested or suggested by Nicaraguans.

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It is not improbable, as you already know, that you will be approached for advice with reference to political matters in Nicaragua, for a friendly and perhaps personal word pointing to the desirability of a particular course of action, or for some indication of the attitude of this Government. When controversies arise, the parties involved may approach you and present to you their versions in order to gain your sympathy and support and even your intervention. If this Government is not again to become involved in the internal political situation in Nicaragua, it is obvious that we must avoid expressing opinions or giving suggestions with reference to internal politics in that country (see in this connection Department’s instruction 339 of October 3, 1935,56 Legation’s telegram 99 of October 7, 1935,57 and Department’s telegram 59 of October 8, 193558). I have frequently been approached by Nicaraguans of every party and rank for expressions of opinion, but have consistently declined to comment without, I believe, losing their friendship and confidence. I have every reason to believe that under similar circumstances your tact and discretion will enable you to do likewise.

In Nicaragua, where such great importance has been attached to the office of American Minister, I am firmly convinced that it is essential not only to decline comment or advice, but scrupulously to avoid giving ground for belief that this Government is taking any part in Nicaragua’s domestic affairs. I am inclined to believe that your presence at such a conference as mentioned in your telegram No. 102, March 27,59 might result in efforts to involve this Government in responsibilities arising out of decisions reached. I am sure that you will be able to keep yourself fully advised of all important developments through your contacts without the necessity of attending meetings of this character.

A comprehensive instruction60 to all the Central American Missions is now being drafted which will amplify the foregoing.

  1. See Foreign Relations, 1932, vol. v, pp. 852 ff., and ibid., 1933, vol. v, pp. 848 ff.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Foreign Relations, 1935, vol. iv, p. 882.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Not printed.
  6. See instruction No. 103, April 30, to the Minister in Honduras, p. 134.