243. Memorandum From the Executive Secretary of the Department of State (Springsteen) to the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Scowcroft)1


  • Request for Appointment with the President for ex-President Somoza of Nicaragua

General Anastasio Somoza plans a private visit to the United States from April 8 to 11. He has asked to pay a courtesy call on the President to express Nicaragua’s gratitude for U.S. assistance in the wake of the December 23, 1972 Managua earthquake.

Somoza will be in Washington on April 9 and has been invited to lunch at the Capitol Hill Club. On April 10 he will give a luncheon speech to the World Anti-Communist League at the Statler-Hilton.

An appointment with the President would not be opportune for several reasons:

(1) President Figueres of Costa Rica is expected to be in New York attending the UNGA Special Session. An appointment for General Somoza could trigger a request from President Figueres. To turn him down and grant an appointment to Somoza would create invidious comparisons which it is best to avoid.

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(2) The reception of General Somoza at the White House would be played in Nicaragua, by his newspaper and also by his effective political machine, as U.S. endorsement of his still unofficial candidacy in the September, 1974 Presidential elections.

(3) The juxtaposition of a visit to the White House by General Somoza on the eve of the Washington Meeting of Western Hemisphere Foreign Ministers could be misinterpreted.

The Nicaraguan people do feel genuine gratitude for U.S. assistance after the earthquake. That gratitude has been expressed on numerous occasions to the President’s Special Coordinator for Emergency Relief to Nicaragua, Maurice J. Williams, and to Secretary of State Rogers during his brief visit to Managua in May, 1973.

On balance, U.S. interests in the Western Hemisphere and in Nicaragua are best served by polite discouragement of this request. While acceptance would be gratifying to General Somoza polite refusal will not prejudice the close and cordial relations we now enjoy with him.

George S. Springsteen
  1. Summary: The Department of State recommended that President Nixon politely refuse Somoza’s request for an appointment during a private visit to Washington, noting that such a meeting could be misinterpreted in Nicaragua and elsewhere in Latin America as a U.S. endorsement of Somoza and his candidacy for the Nicaraguan Presidency.

    Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P740043–1517. Confidential. Drafted by Lippe and cleared by Bowdler and Lazar. A notation on the memorandum reads: “Request for appointment denied per Davis memo of 4/11/74 (S/S–7407273).” In an April 11 memorandum to Springsteen, Davis informed the Department that Scowcroft had called Somoza on August 10 to inform him that Nixon’s schedule was such that a meeting would be impossible. (Ibid., P740043–1522)