The Chargé in Nicaragua (Bernbaum) to the Secretary of State
A–206. See Embassy’s telegram no. 204 of May 26, 1947. Following the telephone conversation of this afternoon with Mr. Braden, I arranged with General Somoza for the appointment agreed upon earlier this morning. The Military Attaché and I saw him at La Curva. It was quite obvious when I began to relate what Mr. Braden had said [Page 855] that Somoza had already been apprised of Mr. Braden’s viewpoint.…
. . . . . . .
He confirmed that Congress had been called to meet this afternoon for the purpose of considering Dr. Argüello’s resignation. He insisted that this move had originated entirely within Congress, although admitting at one point that he might have had some influence in it. When asked what he proposed to do in the event that President Argüello, should refuse to resign, Somoza smiled and remarked “there is no food in the Casa Presidencial”. He insisted, however, that he had no intentions of harming Argüello. He confirmed the arrest of General Medina, General Reyes, Colonel Balladares Torres, Colonel Baca, Colonel Prado and others who had supported the President and stated that they are now eating off his table in La Curva.
Somoza proudly stated that the unprecedented success of his coup d’état is eloquent evidence of his popularity within the Guardia Nacional. In that connection he mentioned that the commanding officers and men of the Guardia detachments in most of the Departments had unanimously answered his call to report for duty in Managua. The large influx of troops has already been reported in Embassy’s telegram no. 207 of May 26, 1947.32
. . . . . . .
In closing the conversation I told him that I believed myself to be echoing the thoughts of Mr. Braden and of Ambassador Warren in earnestly advising him to think long before making any drastic move which he might later regret. I told him that his grievances against Dr. Argüello as related to Colonel Towler and me (see my despatch no. 1613 of May 20, 194733) had already been described in detail to the Department of State and presumably taken into consideration by Mr. Braden. I reminded him of the emphatic statements he had made to us regarding his complete lack of any intention to use force against Argüello under any circumstance and of his proposal to resign from the Guardia in the event that he could not get along with the President. In that connection I pointed out that he was the one who had requested the Department’s authorization for this Embassy to witness his signed declaration of loyalty to the President and that he had then stated his intention of resigning should the Department refuse its authorization (see my despatch no. 1613 of May 20, 1947). Naturally, I stated, the Department of State was considerably disturbed and puzzled over Somoza’s precipitate coup. I also expressed my regret that in resorting to force, however great may have been the provocation, he had undone [Page 856] all the good work in the achievement of democratic institutions in Nicaragua. He smiled wryly, admitted the truth of what I had said but reaffirmed that he was thinking only of Nicaragua.
Somoza stated that he had been disturbed to learn from Colonel Camilo González that Mr. Braden felt he had not permitted me last night to see President Argüello. He added that in advising me not to make the visit, he had been thinking primarily of the danger from “trigger happy” Guardia troops. I told him that I understood his motive, realized that the time might not have been propitious and had planned to see the President today. General Somoza immediately agreed and promised to telephone the Casa Presidencial guard to authorize my entrance.
My subsequent conversation with President Argüello is covered in A–207 of May 27, 1947.