"We denounce the mercenary system of foreign policy under recent administrations in the interests of financial imperialists, oil monopolists and international bankers, which has at times degraded our State Department from its big service as a strong and kindly intermediary of defenseless governments to a trading outpost for those interests and concession-seekers engaged in the exploitation of weaker nations, as contrary to the will of the American people, destructive of domestic development and provocative of war." (La Follette-Wheeler Platform, 1924)
The armed intervention of the United States in Nicaragua under the Coolidge administration is a startling example of the "mercenary system of foreign policy under recent administrations in the interests of financial imperialists, oil monopolists and international bankers," which was so vigorously denounced in the La Follette-Wheeler platform of 1924. Without authority from Congress, American marines have been landed in Nicaragua and zones of so-called "neutrality" have been established within which our soldiers are in complete command.
Cable censorship was established by our government and although at first Secretary of State Kellogg denied the charge, he later was forced to admit that such action had been taken. The citizens of Nicaragua within the territory occupied by our marines have been notified to pay taxes to the government of General Diaz, which enjoys recognition by the United States. Our government has placed an embargo on arms intended for the Liberal forces under President Sacasa while it permits importation of arms intended for the troops of General Diaz.
This armed invasion of a friendly republic and the support of the government of General Diaz are justified by the Coolidge administration under the flimsy pretext of protecting American lives and property in Nicaragua. In spite of repeated demands in the press and elsewhere, upon the State Department to furnish the names and places where American lives and property have been threatened or endangered, no answer has been forthcoming.
To understand why a great and powerful nation of one hundred and five millions of people should be using its power and prestige, and its armed forces, in bending to its will a small weak republic of 638,000 people, helpless and practically defenseless, a few facts must be reviewed.
In 1910, the finances of Nicaragua, having become involved, the State Department sent a Mr. Dawson to that country. He worked out what was known as the Dawson plan which was subsequently embodied in a three party loan treaty between the State Department, the Nicaraguan government and certain New York bankers. The United States never ratified this treaty and it became a dead letter, but while it was under consideration by the Senate, Brown Brothers & Company, the U. S. Mortgage and Trust Co., and Seligman & Company, "refinanced" Nicaragua. Under the terms of the loan the American investors were given 51 percent of the stock of the Nicaraguan railroad and the Nicaraguan National Bank, In all, approximately $6,000,000 was loaned to this little country over a period of years by our benevolent Wall Street bankers. In spite of the tremendous interest charges and the excessively harsh terms upon which the money was loaned, Nicaragua was able by 1924 to buy back fifty-one percent of the stock in the bank and the railroads and to pay off the balance of the loan.
In 1911 American marines were landed in Nicaragua and following fighting in which 150 Nicaraguans were killed. Diaz, now president, who was then a clerk employed by American interests was made President of Nicaragua. Shortly after this "American made" Nicaraguan President was installed he negotiated a treaty with the United States whereby this government was given a perpetual option on the canal route which lies across Nicaragua. Senator Borah, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has stated "that was no treaty at all. It was nothing more than a treaty of the United States with itself." From 1912 to 1925, American marines were maintained in Nicaragua. During that period of time elections for President and Vice President have been held every four years but under the watchful eyes of our State Department, backed by the American marines, men have been selected for the two highest offices in that republic who were satisfactory to our State Department, and of course to the Wall Street bankers who "owned" the country through their loans.
By 1924, however, the loans having been paid, the election resulted in the choosing of Don Carlos Solorzano, a conservative, for President, and Dr. Juan Bautista Sacasa, a liberal, as Vice-President. Soon after this election Emiliana Chamorro and Diaz fomented a revolution. Solorzano was forced to resign as President, but under ordinary constitutional procedure Sacasa, the Vice-President would have succeeded him. Chamorro and Diaz, however, forced Sacasa to flee the country under threat of death and Chamorro was chosen President. But according to the constitution he was ineligible to the office. Chamorro was not satisfactory to the State Department and therefore did not receive recognition by the United States. Chamorro thereupon retired and Diaz, his co-conspirator, was named President. He was immediately recognized by the United States. Sacasa had in the meantime, returned to Nicaragua, and assumed his duties as President, basing his claim upon his constitutional right as Vice-President to fill the office of President which became vacant upon Solorzano's resignation. President Sacasa established his capital at Puerto Cabezas and proceeded to organizer a force which soon bid fair to drive Diaz from power. It was then that the Coolidge Administration issued orders to Rear-Admiral Latimer, and on Christmas eve American marines landed, declaring Puerto Cabezas (Sacasa's capital) a neutral zone and ordered Sacasa's forces to disarm or get out.
In the meantime Mexico, exercising her right as a sovereign power, had recognized Sacasa's government on the ground that it was the only constitutional government existing in Nicaragua.
Thus the relations between Mexico and our State Department, already unpleasant because of the controversy between Mexico and our big oil corporations, were further strained.
There is a deeper significance in this disagreement between the United States and Mexico over the situation in Nicaragua than appears on the surface.
For years, the ever increasing imperialistic policy of the United States toward Central America has been regarded as a menace by all of the republics from the Rio Grande to Cape Horn. Mexico by her action in Nicaragua now steps forward as the champion of a policy which questions the right of the United States to exploit the weaker nations to the south of us.
If our State Department continues in the future as it has in the past to further the interests of our international bankers, foreign investors and exploiters in Central and South America, there must ultimately be an impasse between Mexico and the United States.
In this particular controversy the Coolidge administration has blundered badly. It has undertaken intervention in Nicaragua pure and simple. It has undertaken that intervention on behalf of a government whose chief claim for support is its willingness to accept dictation from our state department and the American business interests which seek to exploit Nicaragua. The inevitable result of this harsh, bullying and unjustifiable action is to set the nations of South and Central America against us.
From the purely selfish commercial point of view this is a short-sighted policy which in the end will cost the business interests of America billions of dollars. Last year our exports to South America were nearly $450,000,000. European nations are returning to the pre-war production basis. They are once more hot after the markets of Latin America. A continuation of the Coolidge-Kellogg policy as exemplified by the measures taken in Nicaragua means ultimately our loss of a portion or all of its valuable markets to the nations of Europe.
From the standpoint of American foreign policy the maintenance of the Coolidge Administration's position means the launching of this government upon a frank course of imperialism and exploitation. Carried to its logical conclusion this policy will require the maintenance of a tremendous navy and a huge standing army. In the end it will mean sacrificing the lives of thousands of American boys in winning for American international bankers the opportunity to exploit the rich natural resources of our sister republics in Central and South America.
The American people will never support the Coolidge or any other administration in such a course. If it is pursued it will produce a political reaction in the United States of tremendous importance. Congress has a great responsibility to discharge in this crisis. Under the constitution, it has sole power to declare war, which carries with it an obligation to prevent the executive from involving this country in a situation which will lead to an unjustifiable war.
The Senate and House should pass without delay the resolutions pending before them introduced by Senator Wheeler of Montana and Congressman Huddleston of Alabama, demanding the withdrawal of the American troops from Nicaragua, thus serving official notice upon President Coolidge that the representatives of the American people in Congress assembled will not support his game of financial imperialism in Nicaragua or any other place.