President Truman to the President of Nicaragua (Somoza)

My Dear Mr. President: Your letter of December 23, 1944, reached President Roosevelt at Warm Springs on April 7, and his reply was in course of preparation at the time of our great leader’s tragic death.12 To me, therefore, falls the duty of responding to your communication, which was delivered to the Acting Secretary of State by your Ambassador on March 30. The rifles and ammunition referred to in it were, I believe, first requested by your Embassy in Washington on December 17, 1943,13 under the terms of the Lend-Lease Agreement between the Government of Nicaragua and that of the United States.

Most careful thought has been given to the subject of your communication, taking into account the information you provide, the complex considerations involved in the participation of the United States in the United Nations war effort, and the changes in intra-Hemisphere relationships and obligations which have taken place since your letter was written.

As you will remember, the Lend-Lease Agreement was signed at a time when the Hemisphere was under a direct threat of attack from abroad. The basic purpose of the agreement was to provide arms to combat this threatened attack. The needs for arms of the American republics allied with us in the war effort were at that time carefully weighed against the demands of the armed forces of the United Nations engaged in active combat with the enemy overseas.

In the time which has passed since the signature of the Lend-Lease Agreement, the United Nations war effort has been so successful as to render remote any threat of physical attack upon the Hemisphere, while the paramount needs of the armed forces of the United Nations have not diminished but increased. As a result, the relative urgency of the needs of the other American republics for lend-lease munitions has considerably decreased. Requests for the direct purchase of arms, ammunition and equipment outside the Lend-Lease Agreement must of course be examined in the light of the same considerations as requests for lend-lease matériel.

While the increasing pressure on the manufacturing resources of the United States has made more difficult the supplying of munitions of war to the other American republics at the moment, a step has been taken which I believe will render more efficient and useful the defense forces of the latter. The strengthening of inter-Americanties [Page 1200] which has been fostered by the present war and by the statesmanship of the Hemisphere’s leaders convinced those leaders that the relationship of the armed forces of the United States to those of its sister republics should be placed upon a more integrated and cooperative basis for the future. In consequence there were initiated a series of staff conversations between the War Department and the military authorities of other American republics designed to co-ordinate the post-war military defense policies and plans of the individual republics with each other and with over-all hemispheric needs. The modifications in the Hemisphere situation brought about by the Act of Chapultepec14 will of course affect the basic strategic considerations which underlie the decisions to be made in the staff conversations. As you know, these conversations will be undertaken with Nicaragua in a very few weeks. They will embrace such topics as the standardization of equipment to which you refer, as well as the expansion of the Military Mission already requested by your Government.15 I feel that the staff conversations and the Military Mission when and as augumented will provide an unequaled opportunity for a detailed study of Nicaragua’s military requirements. It will of course be a matter of prime importance in the staff conversations to plan for the most efficient possible military machine without saddling the Nicaraguan people with an unconscionable burden of expenditure.

In view of the observations set forth above, I feel you will agree that the question of supplying the specific munitions to which your letter refers should be taken up as a part of the forthcoming thorough study of Nicaragua’s military needs as a whole.

My faith in Nicaragua’s recognition of its natural ties with its sister republics and particularly with the United States is such that I have no fear that it will yield to pressure from within this hemisphere or from without. The United States feels that its fellow members of the United Nations have contributed worthily, each in the measure of its ability, to the common cause, and that each one merits the entire confidence of its fellow members. I am confident that the ideals which the United States shares with its sister republics have found and will continue to find the popular support which will protect them against baneful outside influences.

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I have read with pleasure your expressions of solidarity and of Nicaragua’s devotion to democracy, Pan-Americanism and the aims of the United Nations.

With the assurance of my highest and friendliest esteem, I remain

Sincerely yours,

Harry S. Truman
  1. File copy undated; original enclosed, for delivery to President Somoza, in instruction 1572, May 14, to Nicaragua, not printed.
  2. President Roosevelt died April 12, 1945.
  3. Note No. 1954–A, not printed.
  4. Agreement between the United States and other American Republics, contained in the Final Act of the Inter-American Conference on Problems of War and Peace, signed at Mexico City, March 8, 1945; for text, see Department of State, Treaties and Other International Acts Series No. 1543, or 60 Stat. (pt. 2), 1831. For documentation regarding the Inter-American Conference on Problems of War and Peace, see ante, pp. 1 ff.
  5. Nicaraguan Note 285–P, April 17, 1945, not printed.