The President of Nicaragua (Somoza) to President Roosevelt
Very Esteemed Friend: A request of my Government for ten thousand Springfield rifles and the necessary cartridges for them is pending in the Department of War of the United States; and I have thought that the reasons which may be responsible for the failure to reach a prompt decision, or which may be alleged for not taking favorable action, must be the recent developments which have taken place in certain Central American Republics or the idea that the purpose is to increase the armament of the National Guard.
With this in mind I am addressing you directly to request your timely intervention, which would add to the many reasons for gratitude to you which my Government has.
The case of Nicaragua, Mr. President, is very distinct from the other countries of Central America. The reign of internal peace continues unchanged in Nicaragua, and its conduct continues to be closely linked—as it will be in all circumstances—to the interests which the United States is defending in the war and to all the pacts and exigencies to which it is obligated as a United Nation.
You may have the most absolute security that the arms in the hands of the National Guard organized by officers of the American Army are in friendly hands which will do honor to the cause of democracy.
On the other hand, there is no intent to increase the arsenal, but rather one to change old rifles for new ones; and this matter has become so urgent that at least five thousand rifles are absolutely indispensable to us. This is so to the degree that my Government would return an equal number, in as much as it is interested only in the quality and not in the quantity of this type of arm.[Page 1194]
The disturbed history of Central America gives testimony to the constant purpose of Mexico to exercise a direct influence in the life of these countries and in the organization of their Governments as a means of separating them from the United States. There has been a recrudescence of this purpose in these last years with certain new factors involved.
This purpose of Mexico, which does not hide its repugnance for the United States, has encountered and will continue to encounter my opposition and that of Nicaragua, (which has) become a stronghold for the closest collaboration and friendship with your nation on the worthy basis of Good Neighborship.
Nicaragua is likewise a stronghold and breakwater against the communism which diligently seeks to infiltrate into Central America as an aspect of Mexican policy and as a disquieting problem for the future.
It does not escape my thoughts that sooner or later our continent will have to face the influence of Russia, and that the United States will take the leadership—as today—with the same courage and vision devoted to the defense of our future. But logically it will have to count on the cooperation of other countries, which will be in the same trench and which will share in every way its struggle and its fate.
There are thus reasons of a different nature from internal needs properly speaking, which militate in favor of the request made in this letter and which excuse yet more the calling of your attention when it is occupied with knotty problems. The National Guard, as an army watchful over the destiny of America, should without losing a sense of proportions be maintained with efficient equipment which would never be used in an inappropriate manner. It is my most earnest desire to standardize the arms of Nicaragua with those of the United States, in as much as we have the same tactics. It is to be hoped that in the future all the nations of the American continent may have the same tactics and a single type of arms in order that they may be in every sense a continental block.
I am acquainted with the fact that both General Brett of the Canal Zone of Panama and General Bartlett, Chief of the Military Mission in Nicaragua, to whom I have shown our war equipment in order that they may see for themselves the scanty material which Nicaragua has, have recommended to the War Department that the above-mentioned rifles and materials be not refused. They know that not a single rifle is in good order.
I wish to reiterate the assurances of the sincere devotion of the Nicaraguan Government and people to democracy and Pan Americanism [Page 1195] and repeat to you the feelings of friendship and admiration which bind them to you and your great nation.
With renewed expressions of my personal devotion I sign myself your warm friend.
- This message did not reach President Roosevelt until April 7, 1945. It was delivered on March 30 by Nicaraguan Ambassador Guillermo Sevilla-Sacasa to Acting Secretary of State Grew, who in turn transmitted it to President Roosevelt at Warm Springs, Georgia.↩