File No. 944/98–101.
The American Minister to Peru to the Secretary of State.
Lima, November 4, 1909.
Sir: I have the honor to state that on Saturday when calling on the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Porras, I was shown by him an interesting despatch from Mr. García, the Peruvian Chargé in Chile, reporting a recent long interview with Mr. Edwards, the Chilean Minister of Foreign Affairs, in which Mr. Edwards stated that, in reply to the good offices of the Argentine to reestablish full diplomatic representation between Peru and Chile, his Government had decided that it would not be desirable or in the interests of good relations between the two countries, nor would Chile again send a Minister to Peru until a practical settlement of the Tacna and Arica question had been reached. That to send one before that time would invite the friction of useless discussion and another withdrawal which would be much worse than the present situation. He stated frankly that the negotiation must be on a basis that would secure these provinces to Chile; that their ownership was only a sentiment with Peru while it was a necessity to Chile. This was the substance of the despatch. Mr. Porras showed me also a memorandum of Chile’s terms furnished him by Mr. Pérez-Canto, the Chilean Chargé here:
- A plebiscite to be taken in Tacna and Arica when the Chilean obligations with Bolivia for the construction of railroads through the provinces had been completed, i. e., some five or six years hence.
- All otherwise qualified voters of whatever nationality who had been residents for six consecutive months to participate in the election.
- The elections to be held under judges, one selected by Peru, one selected by Chile, and the third either by the consular representatives in these districts or a friendly power.
Mr. Porras said he was having daily consultations with the leaders of Congress over these proposals, but it was impossible to accept these terms. I ventured to suggest that Chile, to secure all the proposition contained, had only to continue a few years more the [Page 1174] policy she has heretofore successfully pursued, and that if Peru did not clearly see an alternative she could doubtless now obtain in other directions some valuable considerations that might be lost by drifting. Mr. Porras hinted obscurely at a conflict if Chile persisted in her position, but I do not think such an eventuality need be taken into account by the Department.
I think the renewal of the discussion is a mistake. I do not think the Peruvian authorities at this time have the courage, perhaps they have not the power, to execute such a settlement as could be effected with Chile.
Since writing the above Mr. Porras kindly sent me a copy of the Chilean proposals and of the Peruvian counter propositions, which I enclose. As accurate information concerning these negotiations is confined for the present to the leaders of Congress, I beg to particularly point out its confidential character. I also enclose copies of the correspondence between Mr. Porras and Mr. Edwards over the President’s allusion to the Tacna and Arica question in his message to the Peruvian Congress.1
I have [etc.]
- Not printed.↩