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

No. 1628

Sir: I have the honor to refer to the Embassy’s telegram no. 213 of May 27, 1947,39 and to elaborate on Congress’ action in deposing President Argüello and in naming Benjamin Lacayo Sacasa as provisional President of Nicaragua.

The combined Houses of Congress met in the evening of May 26 in the National Palace. Only two Deputies were absent, one Independent Liberal and one Conservative. No spectators or reporters were allowed and the meeting place was closely guarded by Guardia troops.

Deputy Arturo Cerna presented a bill which was later passed as resolution No. 112, copies of which are enclosed.39 This bill, which was reportedly drawn up during the day by the Nationalist Liberal Deputies in conference with General Somoza, charges President Argüello of “incapacity for the administration and governing of the State, thereby creating an abnormal situation which compromises the internal tranquility and international credit of the country”; of not obeying the Constitution, as evidenced by his “publicly applauding a reporter’s proposal for dissolving Congress”, and of ignoring the Designates to the Presidency recently elected by Congress; and of provoking division in the armed forces thereby endangering the peace. The bill thereupon deposes President Argüello and names Benjamin Lacayo Sacasa to fill the Presidency “until normalcy is completely restored and new elections are held”.

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[Page 859]

Opinion is unanimous that impeachment proceedings as carried through by Congress were unconstitutional. Witness of this is the fact that the decree mentioned no articles of the Constitution as the legal basis of its extraordinary action. By selecting one of the three Designates to be President, Congress performed the function given to the President by the Constitution. By its action of Monday night, Congress followed the military coup with a legislative coup.

Respectfully yours,

Maurice M. Bernbaum
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