817.20 Missions/11–1744

The Secretary of State to the Chargé in Nicaragua ( Finley )

No. 1489

Sir: Reference is made to the Embassy’s despatch no. 2689 of November 17, 1944,2 enclosing a memorandum of a conversation between President Somoza and General LeRoy Bartlett, Jr., G.N.,3 Director of the Nicaraguan Military Academy, and Lt. Colonel Frederick B. Judson, AUS, Acting Military Attaché. With regard to numbered paragraph 2 of the enclosure thereto you are requested in your discretion to express to General Bartlett the hope that before discussing with the President matters such as the size of or an increase in the military mission, which involve the foreign policy of the United States, he obtain guidance through you from the Department of State. The Department does not wish to imply any criticism of General Bartlett’s action in the present instance but feels that if in the future the procedure outlined is followed, it will result in a close and more satisfactory relationship between the Chief of Diplomatic Mission and the Military Mission.

In respect of President Somoza’s desire to obtain certain rifles and ammunition, you are authorized to discuss this matter with him in strict confidence along the following lines: Such arms could be requested under Lend-Lease or could be purchased, an export license being required in the latter case. As for the former, the President will recall that the Lend-Lease agreement4 was signed when there was a direct threat of an attack upon the hemisphere, and that the arms were supplied for possible use in meeting that threat. However, the development of the war has been so favorable as to render such an attack improbable, and the Departments of State and War now have not only to weigh all requests for Lend-Lease armaments against the needs of the armed forces of the United Nations engaged in active combat with the enemy, but also the use to which the arms are likely to be put.

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In the event that President Somoza indicates a desire to make an outright purchase of arms, you should point out to him that in issuing licenses for arms export similar factors would enter into this Government’s consideration of any such request.

An additional important factor to be considered is the forthcoming staff conversations referred to in the Department’s secret circular instruction of August 29 [26], 1944,5 should Nicaragua accept them. (Reference Department’s airgram no. A–436 of December 23, 11:20 a.m.).6 Since these conversations will consider future military collaboration between the two countries, it would appear inadvisable pending their outcome to take action on requests for arms which may subsequently be subject to modification.

For your background information and for possible use in connection with any talks you may have on this subject with President Somoza, there is enclosed a copy of a memorandum of conversation7 between Dr. López-Herrarte, Guatemalan Chargé d’Affaires, and an official of the Department on the question of furnishing arms to Central American Countries.

It is believed that the above review of the various complex problems involved will serve to acquaint President Somoza with the Department’s present policies concerning arms shipments to Central America.

Very truly yours,

For the Secretary of State:
[File copy not signed]
  1. Not printed.
  2. Guardia Nacional. Colonel Bartlett, A.U.S. (Army of the United States wartime grade), held the title of General in Nicaragua’s National Guard.
  3. Agreement signed at Washington October 16, 1941; for text, see Foreign Relations, 1941, vol. vii, p. 410.
  4. Not printed; for similar circular addressed on August 1 to certain diplomatic representatives in the other American Republics, see Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. vii, p. 105.
  5. Not printed; it requested the Embassy’s reaction to the proposal for staff conversations contained in the Department’s circular of August 26, 1944 (810.20–Defense/10–1944).
  6. Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Caribbean and Central American Affairs (Cabot), dated December 9, 1944, not printed.