Memorandum of Conversation, by the Ambassador in Nicaragua (Warren)38
I saw President Somoza at the Casa Presidencial at 8 p.m. on August 9, 1945, at my request. I took with me and showed to the President a copy of Mr. Rockefeller’s telegram regarding his conversation with Ambassador Sevilla-Sacasa in which Mr. Rockefeller took up, on an entirely personal basis, reports that the President is contemplating standing for election despite Constitutional provisions to the contrary. The President read the message slowly and carefully. He then calmly and dispassionately discussed it. He said that he wanted Mr. Rockefeller to understand that the whole business of his running for election is a big game and that he is playing the game in the interest of the people of Nicaragua.[Page 1215]
In explanation of his present position in which his candidacy is being proclaimed by his friends throughout the Republic, the President said, in effect:
“The Proclamations were made by friends of mine in violation of the law. Because they were my friends, I did not feel that I could have them thrown in jail. Consequently, I sent a bill to Congress, which has passed both Houses, authorizing the opening of the Presidential and Congressional campaign at once. I have also sent a bill to the Congress authorizing juridical standing for the Conservative Party. The campaign can now proceed in an orderly manner,”
From this point the President went on to explain why he had permitted the proclamation of his name to stand. He gave these reasons:
- There are certain ranking elements in the Guardia Nacional who will support me as long as I am President or a candidate for reelection. Having the idea that I would not be a candidate for reelection, these elements were beginning to be active in regard to their own Presidential aspirations. Fearing that the Guardia Nacional would get out of control to the greatest detriment of the Republic, I allowed my candidacy to stand. The immediate result was to prevent any further activity of Guardia officers and to put them loyally behind me in keeping peace in Nicaragua.
- There are, unfortunately, people in the Government Service of Nicaragua who want to make as much money out of their positions as possible. Were it known today that I would not be a candidate for reelection, that element would set out to make as much money as possible between now and the last day of my administration. This fact was an important consideration in my decision to let my candidacy continue.
- As long as I am a candidate, my opponents will not be able to produce a candidate who can compete with me before the electorate. This being true, I shall be able to determine the course of the campaign. This means that when the time comes, I shall be able to indicate a candidate who will be agreeable to me and to the various elements opposing me. At that time we can be sure (it was clear the President meant himself and the United States when he said “we”) that the man selected will serve patriotically and loyally the interests of Nicaragua and the United States.
The President emphasized that he is not well, that he is tired of the duties and the responsibilities of his office, and that he is looking forward to the time when he can lay down the executive power and as a private citizen devote himself to his personal interests. He added that the person taking over the Presidency must administer it patriotically and loyally in the interests of the people of Nicaragua. The President said, “I don’t intend, I don’t want to run for election to the Presidency.”[Page 1216]
I told the President that I was returning to the Embassy at once to send Mr. Rockefeller a telegram confirming the information which the President had given Dr. Munro.39 I repeated to the President the points mentioned above which I said I would transmit to Mr. Rockefeller.
- Enclosed by the Ambassador in his letter to Nelson A. Rockefeller dated August 14, not printed.↩
- Telegram 419, August 9, 10 p.m., not printed, confirming information given to Dana G. Munro during his visit in Nicaragua, August 2–8, as Special Adviser to the Director of the Office of American Republic Affairs.↩