817.00/5–2747: Airgram

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


A–207. See my A–206 of May 26, 1947. After my conversation with General Somoza in La Curva yesterday afternoon I proceeded directly to the Casa Presidencial. Much to my amazement I saw approximately 6 or 8 women and no less than 25 Guardia officers and men in the waiting room. Among them were Panchito and Horacio Aguirre, and Colonel Balladares (Somoza had apparently been in error when he told us that Balladares was under arrest at La Curva). The President appeared solemn and somewhat depressed. He did not, however, show any signs of nervousness.

With Panchito Aguirre present he told me that it was not until his inability at about 11:30 Sunday night to make connection with La Curva and the American Embassy that he and his people realized what had taken place. He had since received no word from Somoza or any information regarding what had been going on. Nobody had eaten since that morning owing to the lack of food. In this connection he expressed anxiety over the aged parents of Mrs. Argüello, but stated firmly that he would under no circumstance accede to General Somoza’s wishes by resigning.

The President handed to me for transmittal to President Truman a message describing his reactions to the coup d’état, the text of which is given in the Embassy’s telegram no. 210 of May 26, 1947.37 Copies of [Page 857] this message will also be handed to the various diplomatic representatives in Managua for transmittal to the heads of their respective governments.

Prior to my departure I gave the President a summary of my telephone conversation of this afternoon with Mr. Spruille Braden. He grimaced a bit over Mr. Braden’s reference to the elections, but expressed pleasure over the remainder of the message, especially with regard to the question of recognition. I made it clear, however, that the Department’s apprehension and disapproval of General Somoza’s actions did not in any way indicate a relaxation of the Department’s nonintervention policy. He replied that this policy was well enough understood to require no lengthy comment.

I assured the President I would be glad to visit him at any time he considers convenient.

Reference my telephone conversation of this morning with Mr. Ellis Briggs.38 Shortly before my departure he [Argüello] handed me a letter addressed to the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps (Mexican Ambassador), requesting that the Diplomatic Corps as a whole and any of its individual members visit him. The letter was personally handed the Mexican Ambassador who was then conducting a meeting in the Mexican Embassy of the Diplomatic Corps.

The final resolution at about 7:30 p.m. was to immediately visit President Argüello as a body. General Somoza was informed in advance in order to avoid trouble with the troops surrounding the Casa Presidencial. His one condition, which was accepted after considerable debate, was that the President not be removed from the Casa Presidential for asylum. An important part of the preliminary conversation was devoted to this question and to the inhumane character of General Somoza’s apparent plan to starve the President into submission. Having only a short time before returned from the Casa Presidencial and in view of the possibility that there might be raised the question of asylum, I did not participate in the visit. The Mexican Ambassador promised to inform me of the outcome.

Upon visiting the Mexican Embassy this morning en route to the Chancery, I learned that President Argüello had for himself, his family and supporters accepted the invitation for asylum which was extended. The invitation had been extended despite the promise made to General Somoza and was confirmed upon Somoza’s subsequent acquiescence to the departure of the President and his retinue. …

At this moment, President and Mrs. Argüello and eleven officers are enjoying asylum at the Mexican Embassy. The others are scattered among the various Legations. Captain Francisco (Panchito) Aguirre [Page 858] Baca and his brother Horacio were this morning issued immigration visas by this office and left this morning by plane. They were escorted to the airfield by the Panamanian Minister.

Rumors of President Argüello’s impending departure were this evening denied to me by the Mexican Ambassador who stated that no definite plans had yet been made. The President’s acceptance of asylum was taken up this afternoon by Somoza in a conversation with a news correspondent as evidence of unresponsibility and criminal desertion of his duties which would alone have justified his removal from the Presidency.

  1. Not printed.
  2. Director of the Office of American Republic Affairs.