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Bryan-Chamorro Treaty


BRYAN-CHAMORRO TREATY, a treaty between the United States and Nicaragua, signed by Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan and Nicaragua's Washington minister, Emiliano Chamorro, on 5 August 1914.It granted to the United States in perpetuity the exclusive right to build an interoceanic canal in Nicaragua, subject to a subsequent agreement regarding details of construction and operation. It also gave the United States a ninety-nine-year lease of Great and Little Corn islands and a right to establish a naval base in the Gulf of Fonseca. Nicaragua received $3 million. The United States had already constructed an interoceanic canal in Panama but saw the Bryan-Chamorro treaty as a means to ensure that no rival nation could build a similar canal.

Costa Rica and El Salvador protested against the treaty. Costa Rica claimed that an arbitral award by President Grover Cleveland in 1888 had bound Nicaragua not to make grants for canal purposes without consulting Costa Rica because of its interest in the San Juan River. El Salvador asserted that the waters of the Gulf of Fonseca belonged jointly to El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Honduras. Both appealed to the Central American Court, which decided that Nicaragua had violated its neighbors' rights and should take steps to restore the legal status existing before the treaty. It did not declare the treaty itself invalid, because it had no jurisdiction over the United States. Nicaragua refused to accept the decision, and the treaty remained in force. The proposed naval base was never established, and the Corn Islands remained under Nicaraguan jurisdiction, except for a small area used by the United States for a lighthouse.


Karnes, Thomas L. Tropical Enterprise: The Standard Fruit and Steamship Company in Latin America. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1978.

LaFeber, Walter. Inevitable Revolutions: The United States in Central America. 2d ed. New York: Norton, 1993.

Dana G.Munro/a. g.

See alsoLatin America, Relations with ; Nicaragua, Relations with ; Nicaraguan Canal Project ; Panama Canal .

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