346. Editorial Note

Documentation on U.S. relations with Nicaragua is being printed in an accompanying microform supplement. A narrative summary, based on that documentation, is provided below, along with a purport list of the documents. The document numbers cited in this summary correspond to the document numbers in the purport list and the microform supplement.

U.S. relations with Nicaragua during the final years of the Eisenhower administration were untainted by major differences between the two states. While concern in both countries about invasions of Nicaragua and attempts to overthrow the Somoza government remained a constant theme, none of the several attempts succeeded or even raised the real possibility of revolution.

The most important event in relations between the United States and Nicaragua took place in 1958 when Milton Eisenhower visited Managua, July 21–24. Subsequent to Vice President Nixon’s stormy visit to Latin America, April 27–May 15, and in the face of concern that the President’s brother might encounter protests, the Embassy in Managua reported that it could protect Milton Eisenhower from similar indignities. (HU–7) The visit proved to be highly successful, as Milton Eisenhower discussed various issues with President Somoza and members of his government and met with leaders of the opposition political parties. (HU–8) The Embassy in Managua speculated that part of the reason for this success stemmed from Somoza’s genuine concern about accusations that he was merely another dictator. In a followup report in September, Ambassador Whelan concluded that everyone was satisfied with the visit, which had resulted in “much good” for the United States. (HU–9)

By 1959, the U.S. Government had become sufficiently concerned about attempts to overthrow the Somoza government or assassinate its President that it asked the Embassy in Managua for an assessment of the climate for a deal between the President and the “responsible opposition.” (HU–15) While the Embassy’s response indicated that this was an unlikely prospect, the Department of State continued to [Page 907] urge the Government of Nicaragua to reach an agreement with opposition elements. The Embassy in turn stressed that the only respectable opposition represented a very small part of the antigovernment parties. (HU–17)

At the end of 1960, the Government of Nicaragua began to share the concern of the United States, but its worries were about Communist-backed activities and intervention in Nicaraguan affairs sponsored by Cuba. This led to a request for U.S. assistance. On November 17, James Hagerty, President Eisenhower’s press secretary, announced on behalf of the President that air and surface units of the U.S. Navy had assumed positions off the coast of Nicaragua where they could assist the local government against such intervention. (HU–26)