90. Letter From the Ambassador to Nicaragua (Brown) to the Director of the Office of Central American Affairs (Burrows)1

Dear Chuck:

In our recent letters we have been discussing various aspects of possible results of General Somoza’s mounting drive for power, and threats and predictions of the “chaos” which will allegedly ensue [Page 211]because of mass refusal to accept the election results.2 We have been reporting the evidence of communist and extreme leftist preparations and even early attempts to take advantage of any disorder, and the separate but equal concerns of the government and anti-communist opposition about the communist potential for trouble. Rumors are, as you know, endemic in these countries, and right now many of them have to do with plots and plans of the various protagonists. I heard from one of our locals yesterday, for example, that there is a street story to the effect that the Acting Chief of the Guardia, General Montiel, is planning a pre-election golpe designed to forestall serious trouble on or after Election Day. I’m told it is said that he would establish a junta militar in place of the present constitutional government, put General Somoza in charge of the junta and clamp down on everything for two or three years, just to keep the peace which Nicaragua needs. So it goes, but this is by way of introducing the report to you of a plot which for once has come directly to our attention by means of one of the self-styled plotters. This scheme has not yet, as far as we know, become the subject of gossip, and it appears to have at least some of the earmarks of more probability and/or gravity than many of the others.

An approach was made recently to one of our officers by a young Nicaraguan lawyer named Morales, who is known for his solid anti-Somoza record over several years and for his membership in, and association with leaders of, the Social Christian Party. Morales has no communist connections. According to Morales, the participants in the plot are some Social Christians and some officers of the National Guard, who are quietly joining forces for a golpe against the authorities, in order to prevent General Somoza’s election and to seize power before the communists can take advantage of the disorders which will accompany the election. The event is supposed to take place on January 22 when Agüero is holding a rally in Managua and the President and the Somozas are in Leon for the Liberal candidate’s demonstration in that city. Morales was probing for an indication of our attitude toward such a golpe. He was of course given a healthy slug of our hands-off treatment. Nonetheless, he has wanted to keep the line open to us. We shall see most discreetly what more we can find out.

The plot is more detailed than I have given you in the barebones description above, which I think includes enough of the essential elements to give you another example of what may be going on under the surface. My own view is that the plot is almost certain to be discovered, if it has not already come to the attention of the GON. Even if it isn’t, I find it difficult to believe that it will be successful. In any [Page 212]event, our information so far is half-baked indeed, and depends entirely on the word of one (half-baked?) informant. We also wanted you to have this information at this stage so that we might lay some sort of basis for what might come out of it.

The next episode of the Perils of Pauline will be shown on this same screen.

Sincerely,

Aaron
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, ARA/CEN Files: Lot 69 D 515, POL Nicaragua—1967. Secret; Official–Informal.
  2. For background on the elections, see Document 91.