Nicaragua


486. Airgram A–115 From the Embassy in Nicaragua to the Department of State, June 9, 1969.

During Governor Nelson Rockefeller’s visit to Nicaragua, President Anastasio Somoza indicated his interest in developing a transportation route along the San Juan River basin. Since the Byran-Chamorro Treaty of 1914 prohibited Nicaragua from developing the region on its own, the Embassy requested permission to begin discussions with Somoza regarding the Treaty’s future.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 33–3 NIC. Confidential. Drafted on June 6 by David W. Burgoon (POL) and approved by Malcolm R. Barnebey. Stamped notations on the Airgram indicate that it was received at the Department of State at 8:29 a.m. on June 12 and at the Bureau of Inter-American Affairs on June 13. Ambassador Crockett signed the Airgram. In telegram 1435 from Managua, August 14, Crockett urgently requested authorization to initiate discreet discussions with Somoza on the future status of the Treaty. (Ibid.) In telegram 142594 to Managua, August 22, the Department of State replied that Panama Canal Treaty negotiator Ambassador Anderson felt strongly that without prior consultation appropriate members of Congress, Panama Canal negotiations would be affected adversely. (Ibid.)


487. Memorandum From the Country Director for Panama (Grove) to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Hurwitch), Washington, November 14, 1969.

Country Director for Panama Grove reported that Panama Canal negotiator Ambassador Anderson had no objections to the eventual termination or substantial amendment of the Bryan-Chamorro Treaty. According to Anderson, the Treaty offered the United States little or no leverage for ongoing negotiations with Panama, because “nearly everyone knows that we are not going to build a canal there.”

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 33 NIC. Secret. Drafted by Grove. A copy was sent to Anderson, Sheffey of the Canal Study Commission, Breen, Feldman, and Meyer.


488. Airgram A–5 From the Embassy in Nicaragua to the Department of State, January 18, 1970.

The Embassy provided an overview of U.S. policy toward Nicaragua. The security assessment noted that President Somoza faced continued urban and rural threats from Sandinista insurgents and concluded that the Guardia Nacional would need continued U.S. assistance.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 1 NIC–US. Secret. Stamped notations on the Airgram indicate that it was received at the Department of State at 8:27 a.m. on January 21 and at the Bureau of Inter-American Affairs on January 22.


489. Memorandum of Conversation, Managua, January 20, 1970.

Embassy Political Officer James E. Briggs met with Dr. Fernando Agüero, the President of the opposition Partido Conservador Tradicional (PCT) to discuss a wave of violence sponsored by the “pro-Castro” FSLN. According to Agüero, the violence was symptomatic of economic and social difficulties which could be considerably relieved if the United States persuaded Somoza not to seek re-election.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 2 NIC. Confidential. Drafted on January 28 by Briggs and cleared by Barnebey. Sent under the covering airgram, A–11, from Managua, February 1. In Airgram A–35 from Managua, March 8, the Embassy reported that it had “seen no evidence that there are any Cubans directly involved with the guerrillas.” (Ibid.)


490. Telegram 272 From the Embassy in Nicaragua to the Department of State, February 18, 1970, 2236Z.

Ambassador Crockett reported that President Somoza urgently requested four helicopters for use in counter-guerrilla operations.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 23 NIC. Confidential; Immediate. It was repeated to USCINCSO and USCINCSO for POLAD. In telegram 1991 from Managua, November 5, 1969, the Embassy reported that the FSLN had increased its activities and that it had demonstrated that it was a continuing threat. (Ibid.)


491. Telegram 354 From the Embassy in Nicaragua to the Department of State, March 5, 1970, 1730Z.

The Embassy reported that the March 4 announcement of United States-Nicaraguan agreement to re-examine Byran-Chamorro Treaty had received widespread local approval.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 33–3 NIC. Unclassified. Repeated to Panama and San José.


492. Telegram 645 From the Embassy in Nicaragua to the Department of State, April 17, 1970, 2246Z.

The Embassy noted that assistance to improve public safety capability of Guardia Nacional was major U.S. Government objective in Nicaragua and requested the assignment of a Public Safety Adviser to Nicaragua.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 1 NIC–US. Limited Official Use. It was repeated to USCINCSO and USCINCSO for POLAD. The CASP enclosed in Airgram A–5 is published as Document 488.


493. Memorandum of Conversation, Managua, May 6, 1970.

Political Officer Briggs met for two hours with Pedro Joaquín Chamorro, the Owner-Editor of Prensa Libre, to discuss Nicaragua’s political situation, President Somoza’s potential continuation in power, and the disenfranchisement of university students. He also noted the growing sympathy for the Sandinista movement.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 2 NIC. Confidential. Transmitted to the Department of State as Enclosure 1 to Airgram A–80 from the Embassy in Managua, May 26.


494. Telegram 83319 From the Department of State to the Embassy in Nicaragua, May 30, 1970, 2326Z.

The Department of State indicated that it was concerned about President Somoza’s proposed visit with Cuban exiles in Miami, and that the visit could be detrimental to both U.S. and Nicaraguan interests, particularly in light of problems involving Alpha 66.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 15–1 NIC. Secret; Immediate; Exdis. For Chargé from Hurwitch. Drafted on May 30 by Funseth (ARA/CCA) and Eltz (ARA/CEN); cleared by Killoran and S/S; and approved by Hurwitch. In telegrams 830 and 886, May 19 and 26, the Embassy requested assistance in arranging a meeting between Somoza and Cuban exile leaders in Miami. (Ibid.)


495. Telegram 896 From the Embassy in Nicaragua to the Department of State, May 31, 1970, 1913Z.

Embassy Chargé Barnebey relayed the Department of State’s concerns about President Somoza’s planned visit with Cuban exiles in Miami. Somoza responded by acknowledging the Department of State’s concerns and then telephoned the Cuban exile group to cancel the publicized event, suggesting that he might instead meet with a small group of exiles in private. Somoza requested that the Department of State arrange the alternative meeting.

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 790, Country Files, Latin America, Nicaragua, Vol. I (1969–1974). For Hurwitch. Secret; Immediate; Exdis. A stamped notation indicates that it was received in the White House Situation Room at 8:38 a.m. on June 1. In telegram 83335 to Managua, May 31, Hurwitch responded that the Department of State was “unable to accede to Somoza’s request for our help in arranging even a private meeting with a few exiles.” (Ibid.)


496. Memorandum From the Executive Secretary (Eliot) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger), Washington, June 9, 1970.

The Department of State recommended against extending a presidential invitation to President Somoza to visit the United States, and cited concerns that Somoza might be planning to extend his term in office despite a constitutional ban on immediate re-election.

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 790, Country Files, Latin America, Nicaragua, Vol. I (1969–1974). Confidential. Drafted on June 4 by Eltz; and cleared by Breen, Hurwitch, and Emil Mosbacher, Jr. (S/CPR). A typewritten note appears at the top of the cover page of the Department of State’s copy, which reads, “Approved per Memo from Mr. Watts to Mr. Eliot dtd 6/12/70.” The June 12 memorandum from William Watts is not published. (Ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 7 NIC)


497. Telegram 1696 From the Embassy in Nicaragua to the Department of State, September 28, 1970, 1617Z.

The Embassy reported that university students had occupied the Managua Cathedral to protest government repression. Archbishop Obando y Bravo supported the students the “first occasion where Church and students have stood together against President Somoza’s Guardia Nacional and its time honored practices.”

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 23–8 NIC. Confidential; Priority. Repeated to Guatemala, San Salvador, Tegucigalpa, and San José. In telegram 1700 from Managua, September 29, the Embassy reported that the occupation had ended peacefully the previous afternoon, and that “students and liberal religious elements (mainly young Jesuit priests) regard settlement as major victory over GON and will surely be ready to apply successful formula when next civil crisis inevitably presents itself.” (Ibid.)


498. Telegram 1815 From the Embassy in Nicaragua to the Department of State, October 16, 1970, 2225Z.

The Embassy reported that Conservative Party President Fernando Agüero had told them that President Somoza would not “seek to extend his time in office” as had been supposed.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 12 NIC. Confidential. In Airgram A–135 from Managua, October 7, the Embassy detailed efforts by the Liberal and Conservative Parties to negotiate Somoza’s withdraw from power and the establishment of a transition government. (Ibid.) In telegram 1938 from Managua, November 5, the Embassy described Somoza as “evasive on continuism” when asked during a press conference whether he planned to remain in office. (Ibid., POL 15–1 NIC)


499. Telegram 25 From the Embassy in Nicaragua to the Department of State, January 7, 1971, 1511Z.

Ambassador Shelton reported on conversations with President Somoza during a weekend at the President’s lakeside house. Much of the discussion surrounded Somoza’s planned retirement from politics, continuation as head of the National Guard, and plans for a provisional government and general elections.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 15–1 NIC. Secret; Limdis.


500. Memorandum of Conversation, Managua, January 18, 1971.

Ambassador Shelton met with President Somoza to discuss Nicaragua’s political situation and United States-Nicaraguan relations.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 2 NIC. Confidential. Transmitted to the Department of State as Enclosure 1 to Airgram A–10 from Managua, January 31. Drafted by Hines (ARA/LA/CEN). Attached but not published at Enclosure 2 is a January 19 memorandum of conversation with Fernando Agüero.


501. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon, Washington, January 29, 1971.

President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs Kissinger forwarded a report from Secretary of Commerce Stans, regarding his December 8–10, 1970, visit to Nicaragua. Kissinger’s memorandum lists requests made by President Somoza.

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 790, Country Files, Latin America, Nicaragua, Vol. I (1969–1974). Confidential. Sent for action. Attached but not published are Tabs A and B. Tab A was a January 30 letter of appreciation to Secretary Stans, which Nixon signed, and Tab B was Secretary’s Stans’ December 18, 1970 report on his visit to Nicaragua.


502. Telegram 722 From the Embassy in Nicaragua to the Department of State, March 30, 1971, 2310Z.

The Embassy reported that President Somoza and Conservative Party President Agüero signed an agreement on presidential succession, which would ostensibly initiate a process of structural change in the country’s economy and political life.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 12 NIC. Confidential. In Airgram A–40 from Managua, April 11, the Embassy forwarded a copy of the agreement between Somoza and Agüero and translated copies of the speeches they gave at the signing ceremony. (Ibid., POL 15–1 NIC)


503. Action Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Meyer) to the Acting Secretary of State (Irwin), Washington, April 12, 1971.

Assistant Secretary Meyer supported Nicaraguan Ambassador Sevilla-Sacasa’s request for “some sign of special attention by President Nixon” for President Somoza during his visit.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 7 NIC. Confidential. Drafted by Hines; cleared by Hurwitch, Breen, William R. Codus (S/CPR), and Von Stroebel (Commerce); cleared in info by Colonel Wyrough (DOD). Copies sent to U, J, C, and ARA/CEN/N. Irwin approved Meyer’s recommendation on April 13 and sent the attached memorandum to the President. On the memorandum to Nixon, there is a typed note that indicates that Nixon would meet Somoza for dinner in June. (Ibid.)


504. Memorandum for the Record, Washington, June 2, 1971, 7:30 p.m.

President Nixon and President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs Haig met with President Somoza and discussed the military in Latin America, the Bryan-Chamorro Treaty, economic developments, including quotas for commodities, and Nicaragua’s political future. Somoza indicated that he had reached an agreement to step down at the completion of his term, but noted that he planned to run as his party’s presidential candidate in the 1974 election.

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 790, Country Files, Latin America, Nicaragua Vol. I (1969–1974). Secret; Sensitive. An attached sanitized version was prepared for transmittal to the Department of State.


505. Memorandum of Conversation, Washington, June 8, 1971, 3:15–3:45 p.m.

During a courtesy visit with Secretary of Defense Laird, President Somoza expressed concern over the administration’s policy of phasing out military assistance to Latin America and referred to “the continued threat posed by Cuba.”

Source: Washington National Records Center, OASD/ISA Files: FRC 330–74–083, Nicaragua 1971, 000.1. Confidential. It was prepared by Wyrough on June 9 and approved by Armistead I. Selden, Jr. This conversation is published from a copy that bears Selden’s stamped signature with an indication that he signed the original.


506. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon, Washington, August 13, 1971.

The Department of State indicated that, except for textiles, little could be done to respond to President Somoza’s requests, because quota policies were governed by international agreements. The Department of State recommended that the textile quota be doubled. Despite a dissenting view from the Commerce, President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs Kissinger recommended that President Nixon approve the Department of State’s recommendation.

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 790, Country Files, Latin America, Nicaragua Vol. I (1969–1974). Secret. Sent for action. A stamped notation at the top of the memorandum indicates the President saw it. Attached at Tab A is a draft letter to Somoza as signed, it is published as Document 507. Attached but not published at Tabs B and C are a July 15 memorandum from the Department of State to Kissinger and a July 14 memorandum from the Stans to Kissinger, objecting to the Department of State’s recommendations.


507. Letter From President Nixon to President of Nicaragua Somoza, Washington, September 7, 1971.

President Nixon informed President Somoza that he had doubled Nicaragua’s cotton textile allocation. Nixon indicated that he would send a Department of Agriculture representative to Nicaragua to discuss fruit and vegetables, and was working to benefit Nicaragua in the area of sugar import allocations.

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 790, Country Files, Latin America, Nicaragua Vol. I (1969–1974). No classification marking.


508. Airgram A–112 From the Embassy in Nicaragua to the Department of State, September 26, 1971.

The Embassy reported on the Somoza-Agüero national unity pact, suggesting that Somoza’s Liberal Party sought U.S. association with the pact to lend it “an air of respectability and international acceptability,” while Agüero’s Conservative Party hoped that the United States would “be the guardian of the agreement and the potential enforcer should Somoza fail to comply with it. The Embassy recommended staying aloof and avoiding“the embraces of local politics.”

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 12 NIC. Confidential. Drafted by Cheek, approved by White, and signed by Shelton. Copies sent to Guatemala, San Jose, Tegucigalpa, San Salvador, USCINCSO for POLAD. Stamped notations on the Airgram indicate that it was received at the Department of State at 8:30 a.m. on September 25, at the Bureau of Inter-American affairs on October 1, and at the RS/AN Analysis Branch.


509. Intelligence Memorandum, OCI No. 2080/71, Washington, October 18, 1971.

CIA assessed the emergence of “national unity” pacts in Honduras and Nicaragua. According to the Agency, while ostensibly providing for democratic transitions, such pacts were “ploys by strongmen whose terms of office are legally terminated to disguise continuismo.”

Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Office of Current Intelligence, Job 79–T00831A. Secret; No Foreign Dissem. The intelligence memorandum was self-initiated at CIA. Three inserts included in the memorandum, are not published. They were a map with “Selected Examples of Continuismo,” “The Honduran Unity Pact,” and “Opposition Participation in Nicaragua.”


510. Telegram 2682 From the Embassy in Nicaragua to the Department of State, November 20, 1971, 1713Z.

Nicaraguan Archbishop Miguel Obando y Bravo publicly indicated his intention to abstain from the scheduled 1972 Constituent Assembly elections. Nicaragua’s leading opposition newspaper, La Prensa, “welcomed the Archbishop’s apparent support for its position that voters should abstain because the Kupia Kumi and its elections are a farce.”

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 15–7 NIC. Confidential. Repeated to Guatemala, San José, San Salvador, Tegucigalpa, and USCINCSO for POLAD. In Airgram A–134, November 24, the Embassy reported that the opposition Partido Social Cristiano (PSC) had begun a petition campaign to force the Liberal and Conservative Parties to allow it to participate in the coming elections. (Ibid., POL 12 NIC)


511. Airgram A–003 From the Embassy in Nicaragua, January 4, 1972.

Ambassador Shelton met at his residence with the leadership of the opposition Partido Social Cristiano (PSC), who stated that if the Supreme Electoral Court rejected their petition, the only road to ending Somoza’s dictatorship would be through violent revolution. The Embassy reported that the December 21 Supreme Electoral Court ruling against the PSC’s petition could convince some dissident elements in Nicaragua that violence was the only way.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 12 NIC. Confidential. Drafted by Turnquist, cleared by Cheek, and approved by Shelton. Repeated to Guatemala, San José, San Salvador, Tegucigalpa, and USCINCSO for POLAD. Stamped notations on the Airgram indicate that it was received at the Department of State at 8:34 a.m. on January 12, at the Bureau of Inter-American Affairs on January 14, and at the RS/AN Analysis Branch.


512. Memorandum of Conversation, Puerto Somoza, January 24, 1972.

During an informal two-hour meeting with Ambassador Shelton, President Somoza discussed his plans for governing jointly with Conservative Party leader Fernando Agüero and the future of two-party politics in Nicaragua.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 15–1 NIC. Confidential. Drafted by Hines. A copy was sent to ARA/CEN, INR/RAR, CIA/OCI, CIA/BR, and the Embassy in Managua.


513. Telegram 446 From the Embassy in Nicaragua to the Department of State, February 23, 1972, 0132Z.

The Embassy reported that President Somoza’s Liberal Party had crushed the Conservative Party in the February 6 elections, and the loss actually enhanced the chances that an opposition coalition would emerge for the 1974 elections. The Embassy concluded that the election results and long range implications did not threaten U.S. interests.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 14 NIC. Confidential; Priority. It was repeated to Guatemala, Tegucigalpa, San Salvador, San José, USCINCSO, and USCINCSO for POLAD.


514. Memorandum of Conversation, Managua, March 7, 1972.

Embassy Political Officer James R. Cheek discussed the outcome of the February 6 elections with Conservative Party President Fernando Agüero, who claimed he expected to lose the elections, because they had been conducted under the “old, corrupt system.” Agüero explained that honest elections were a sine qua non for continued political peace and stability in Nicaragua, and that should these fail in 1974, revolution would be the only alternative.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 12 NIC. Limited Official Use; Exempt. Drafted by Cheek. Transmitted to the Department in Airgram A–23 from Managua, March 10. Repeated to Guatemala, San José, Tegucigalpa, San Salvador, and USCINCSO for POLAD.


515. Telegram 966 From the Embassy in Nicaragua to the Department of State, May 3, 1972, 2305Z.

The Embassy reported that Somoza had officially resigned as President and had handed over authority to the 3 member National Governing Council, which was elected on February 6. Somoza was to remain as the Supreme Chief of the Armed Forces.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 15–1 NIC. Confidential; Priority. Repeated to Guatemala, Tegucigalpa, San Salvador, San José, USCINCSO, and USCINCSO for POLAD.