817.248/11–2145: Telegram

The Ambassador in Nicaragua (Warren) to the Secretary of State

735. Dept’s 444 November 19. Possibility that Canadian or British Air Force is preparing to supply training planes to Nicaragua in view of our refusal to do so should not be overlooked. Judging from a remark of Capt. Luis Somoza, President’s son and Military Attaché in Washington, Nicaraguans have had word from Canadians. British Wing Commander Devey, H. M. Air Attaché at Panama, has been in Nicaragua recently. On other hand we do not know that any representative of Canadian Air Force has been here.

It is assumed Dept has not overlooked possibility of Mexico supplying planes to Nicaragua. Relations of Mexico (which possesses an important number of U.S. made planes) with Somoza have not been all that Mexico desired and she may therefore attempt to sell planes here in order to improve her position. While we do not believe Nicaraguan Govt would attempt to explain purchase of Canadian planes (or any others she might be able to get) in the light of overdue Lend-Lease payments, Dept might be prepared to make appropriate representations to any country which might become party to Nicaragua’s irresponsibility regarding her priority international obligations under Lend-Lease.

Nicaraguan Air Force has $10,000 it can spend now. Nicaraguan Govt is in tight political situation that may end in revolution. Govt would not hesitate to spend $10,000 or any other sum it might be able to get in order to obtain planes quickly from any source. Could not Dept take stand with Canada or any other United Nation that such a sale would jeopardize accepted policy of withholding arms, ammunition and planes of any type during a crisis when such supply might be construed an intervention. As precedent, British agreement not to sell planes to Argentina could be cited. On other hand, abstention by Canada or other country would indicate a desire to continue Allied cooperation.

The sale of $10,000 worth of planes to Nicaraguan Govt would probably not jeopardize our standardization program. However we do not want to take any unnecessary chances and trust Dept can carry out suggestion outlined herein with respect to Canada or other nation. I have recommended that planes not be sold to Nicaragua during existing crisis.

I recommend that we stand pat for present as the situation may clear within 3 months.

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I want to emphasize that our sale of planes now to Somoza after recent refusal in Panama will be interpreted as backing for his regime and as a sign of weakness on our part. Conversely, it will be taken as a sign of Somoza strength.