91. Information Memorandum From the Director of the Office of Central American Affairs (Burrows) to the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Gordon)1
- Nicaraguan Election Campaign and Prospects
With the Nicaraguan elections less than one month away (February 5), I think you will be interested in Ambassador Brown’s assessment of the situation, including the post-election role of the opposition. Summarized below are views he has expressed to me in recent letters, responding to some provocative communications from me.
General Somoza, the front-running candidate of the government party, could win a free election, although it might be close. Nevertheless, the Somoza tactic is apparently to build up a large majority, by fair means or foul. Opposition candidate Fernando Aguero, as well as many others in his camp, cannot believe that Aguero could lose in a free election. Aguero is the kind who, when he does lose, would be inclined to lead a resistance movement. However, in view of his proved ineptness as an organizer and leader, as well as the probable reluctance of his supporters to risk their current prosperity in a turmoil that might lead to revolution, Aguero is unlikely to have much success in any postelection efforts.[Page 213]
For many years the opposition, including its spokesmen in the United States, has been making dire predictions of calamity to come, in an attempt to frighten the United States into “doing something about General Somoza”. In fact, only a massive stroke by the United States could have dissuaded Somoza from his candidacy, and there would have been little support in the United States Government for such a move.
General Somoza seems to have the Nicaraguan armed forces, the Guardia Nacional, behind him for a long time to come. Instead of heaping abuse on the Guardia Nacional, the opposition is appealing to it with blandishments promising a better deal under Aguero, and is actually shouting “Viva la Guardia Nacional!”
Although serious trouble is not expected in Nicaragua, if it does occur, we could not stop it if we tried. In any case, maybe a little revolution would in the long run not really harm our interests. Even discounting reports from prejudiced sources to the effect that General Somoza is in ill health and is emotionally unstable, there is other evidence, varying in degree of realiability, which indicates that once in office he may not be equal to his aspirations. In Ambassador Brown’s own words, “The wondering eyes of the world may sooner or later see Anastasio Somoza explode and fall apart into little pieces, as he finds himself forced to take measures which may war with one part of his nature, as he finds that Nicaragua will not move as fast as he thinks it must under his peerless leadership, as he does not get the hemisphere’s recognition of his deeds and good intentions, etc.”2
All this does not mean that the first months of 1967 will pass with general tranquillity, but Nicaragua is expected to stagger through them without major disorder.
- Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 14 NIC. Confidential. Drafted by James R. Johnston. Another copy indicates that the memorandum was cleared by Sayre. (Ibid., ARA/CEN Files: Lot 69 D 515, POL Nicaragua—1967)↩
- The sentence is in a letter from Brown to Burrows, December 23, 1966. (Ibid., ARA/CEN/N Files: Lot 69 D 528)↩