The Secretary of State to the Embassy in Nicaragua 1


23. Department concerned regarding possible upset plans end Costa Rica-Nicaragua dispute. Background developments follows.

[Page 1386]

After Nicaraguan note May 152 Department urged Costa Rica reply promptly and in conciliatory terms. She did on June 24.3 Department then agreed with Ambassador Sevilla-Sacasa it would undertake persuade Costa Rica deport certain Nicaraguans whose deportation Nicaragua represented would end all its complaints against Costa Rica. Sevilla-Sacasa gave Department President Somoza’s assurance that immediately upon report from Department exiles had left Costa Rica he would express gratification and propose meeting of chancellors discuss re-establishment cordial relations. Somoza requested this agreement not be revealed to Costa Rican Government so Department stated only Costa Rica could confidently anticipate gesture of cordiality from Nicaragua in response to expulsion. Fulfilling its part of agreement Department urgently recommended deportation listed individuals. On July 15 Figueres promised compliance by today and apparently will actually perform by Sunday. On July 15 Department notified Sevilla-Sacasa exiles would leave Costa Rica on July 23 and requested his Government be prepared immediately afterwards fulfill its agreement to request meeting Foreign Ministers.

Under circumstances stern note to Costa Rica from Nicaragua delivered today4 most unfortunate making it difficult Figueres expel exiles, constituting move inconsistent with agreement with Department which has been collaborating closely and placing Department exceedingly embarrassing situation in view its assurances to Figueres of gesture of cordiality from Nicaragua.

[Page 1387]

Ambassador should do utmost obtain Somoza’s assurance that if Figueres does expel exiles despite Nicaraguan note of today Somoza will immediately and in cordial terms propose chancellors meeting thereby fulfilling agreement with Department. Ambassador should also suggest to Somoza that effective preliminary method of showing good faith would be to take steps discourage shipment into Costa Rica of Nicaraguan newspapers with inflammatory articles critical Figueres.

  1. This telegram was drafted by Messrs. Holland, Woodward, and Ohmans and approved by Mr. Woodward. It was repeated for information to San José as telegram 46.
  2. Presumably the note referred to in telegram 159 from Managua, dated May 17, 1954, p. 1382.
  3. Telegram 230, dated June 26, 1954, reported that the Costa Rican note was conciliatory but that it cleared all Costa Rican officials of complicity in the assassination attempt with the exception of those in Puntarenas who permitted concealed arms to enter Nicaragua (617.18/6–2654). President Somoza was reportedly not satisfied with the note, indicating that he would never be happy as long as Costa Rican President Figueres remained in office and continued plotting against him (telegram 9 from Managua, dated July 6, 1954, 617.18/7–654). No copy of the Costa Rican reply was found in Department of State files.
  4. Telegram 44 from San José reported that this reply to the Costa Rican note of June 24 accused the Costa Rican Government of violating the spirit and letter of the 1949 friendship treaty and that its note of June 24 indicated that Costa Rica was not disposed to renew friendly relations with Nicaragua. The Nicaraguan message indicated that since Nicaragua had not received satisfaction from Costa Rica, it would seek redress from “international law.” The Embassy in Managua interpreted this to mean that the Nicaraguan Government would refer the case to the Organization of American States. (617.18/7–2354) President Somoza later explained that Costa Rica’s failure to expel those involved in the assassination plot, and its refusal to admit involvement in it or to promise to prevent its recurrence, justified the stem tone of the note. Somoza maintained that persons in Costa Rica implicated in the conspiracy were simply being allowed to leave of their own free will with permission to return in the future. (617.18/7–2454)