The Chargé in Nicaragua (Bernbaum) to the Secretary of State
A–287. Reference this Embassy’s telegram no. 298 of August 6, 1947,58 regarding a conversation held at my home yesterday with General Anastasio Somoza. He was exceedingly amiable throughout the conversation, and repeatedly stressed his past, present and future loyalty to and cooperation with the United States.
… He confirmed at this time that convening of the Constituent Assembly had been advanced to August 15 from August 29 over the strong objection of the de facto President, Benjamin Lacayo Sacasa. … Somoza recapitulated the qualifications of each candidate. … The final decision, announced as if it had been reached during the interview, was that the septuagenarian Dr. Victor Roman y Reyes be the President and Dr. Mariano Argüello Vargas the Vice President. The former, he indicated, would be elected by the Constituent Assembly shortly after convening and the latter would be designated Vice President after completion and approval of a suitably amended Constitution. Somoza did not conceal the belief that Argüello Vargas might be too furious to accept the Vice Presidency, and insisted that Argüello Vargas’ participation in the coup d’état was the only factor disqualifying him for the Presidency.
Somoza’s preoccupation with United States non-recognition and his policy of effecting recognition as the reward for cooperation were [Page 865] further illustrated in a lengthy exposition of the changes to be effected in the new Constitution. Of these the most heavily stressed were: “Concrete and effective dispositions against Communist propaganda and activities”; and “ample powers to the executive for the negotiation of agreements to permit, without violating national sovereignty, the temporary use of Nicaraguan territory for the establishment of military, naval and air bases in times of continental emergency.” He reaffirmed his desire for the return of the United States Military Mission and promised unconditional support for United States policies at all times, including the Rio Conference.
Dr. Guillermo Sevilla Sacasa is to attend the Rio Conference as observer, and delegate in the event of later recognition and the extension of an invitation. Dr. Mariano Argüello Vargas will be requested to accompany him, but Somoza believed that he would probably be too angry to accept. Dr. Carlos Cuadra Pasos would be another choice if permitted by General Chamorro to accept the designation. In view of the foregoing, Somoza gave it as probable that Octavio Salinas (delegate to the United Nations Assembly) or another Nationalist Conservative will attend with Sevilla Sacasa.
Upon questioning, Somoza admitted that his departure for the United States for medical attention will be dependent upon international recognition. Should that not be forthcoming he will remain to face the “inevitable revolution”. Although repeatedly emphasizing that he was motivated only by the desire to protect his friends and had no desire or intention to remain in politics, he further admitted that he plans to return after recovery from his operation and an extended vacation trip. I gathered he was thinking in terms of about six months. Somoza predicted that the Conservative Party will wait only for his departure before initiating attempts to overthrow the new Government, and affirmed that he would in such case return immediately.
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Somoza expressed considerable concern over refusal of the Bank of America to make its contractual advance of $500,000 to the account of the Nicaraguan National Bank. He understood from Bank of America telegrams that the refusal was based either on the advice or instructions of the State Department.59 With about US$300,000 in National [Page 866] Bank drafts outstanding and gold reserves immobilized in the Bank of America and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, he gloomily mentioned the possibility of a run on the National Bank as soon as the situation becomes known. It was evident that he, as well as previous visitors to the Embassy, believed that this move signified the beginning of economic sanctions.61
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- Not printed.↩
- The Department informed the Embassy in Nicaragua in airgram A–156, August 18 (817.51/8–647), that it did not offer advice to the Bank of America as to the policy the Bank should follow, but had stated in telegram of August 8 to the Bank as follows: “… Lacayo Govt not recognized by US Govt which cannot therefore undertake to make confirmation of agreements made by officials of Lacayo Govt or of advances for use of Lacayo Govt, a condition precedent to recognition of any future Nicaraguan Govt. Dept is not prepared to express legal opinion on effectiveness your lien on gold in Federal Reserve bank of New York for all purposes.”↩
- In telegram 187, August 14, 6 p.m., the Department informed the Chargé that “Dept does not favor economic sanctions and will take no action to that end”. (817.51/8–1347)↩