Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, With the Address of the President to Congress December 4, 1917
File No. 714.1515/40
Minister Ewing to the Secretary of State
Tegucigalpa , November 16, 1917 .
Sir: I submit herewith for the Department’s consideration copies and translations of the recent correspondence with the Honduran Foreign Office.
I have [etc.]
Minister Ewing to Minister for Foreign Affairs
Tegucigalpa , November 13, 1917 .
Excellency: I have the honor to inform your excellency of the receipt of a cablegram, dated Washington, November 12, 5 p.m., from the Honorable Secretary of State, which instructs me to bring to the attention of your excellency’s Government the result of an interview held by the American Minister to Guatemala with the President of that country.
The Minister, upon instruction from the Department of State, brought to the attention of President Estrada Cabrera the statement of your excellency with regard to the presence of Guatemalan laborers, guarded by troops, at Omoa, Honduras. The President informed the American Minister that these laborers were repairing the railroad and roadstead in the territory of Guatemala in expectation of an invasion by Honduras. The President further stated he desired the question of the boundary to remain in statu quo and declared that Honduras had one thousand soldiers in Guatemalan territory and that for the time being he has withdrawn his soldiers and laborers from certain contact with Honduran troops.
The Secretary of the American Legation in Guatemala has been sent to the locality to make an investigation of the border troubles and I shall no doubt be notified of the result of his efforts.
I have the honor to advise your excellency that my Government has informed the Special Mission of the Guatemalan Government, now in Washington, to tender good offices and mediation of the United States in the boundary dispute, that if it is the desire of both Honduras and Guatemala, and the United States is so requested, it will tender its impartial good offices and mediation.
In the event it is the desire of your excellency’s Government to accept my Government’s good offices and mediation of the disputed boundary question, I shall be most pleased to communicate this request to the Government of the United States.
I improve this opportunity to offer [etc.]
The Minister for Foreign Affairs to Minister Ewing
Mr. Minister: I have had the honor to receive your excellency’s courteous note dated the 13th of the present month, in which you were pleased to inform me, with instructions from the Honorable Secretary of State, of the result of an interview between the American Minister in Guatemala and the President of that country.
According to that interview the President of Guatemala does not deny the presence of Guatemalan soldiers and workmen in the zone on this side of the Motagua River, but states that those workmen are engaged in constructing a railroad and roadbed in Guatemalan territory; which is inexact, because as I have [Page 783] stated before, this territory is located on the right side of the Motagua River, which has been held as the boundary between Honduras and Guatemala, the Guatemalan workmen and guard having crossed over; and what is more, the railroad grade to which the President of Guatemala refers is no other than that belonging to the American Cuyamel Company, constructed by concession of this Government authorized many years ago. Guatemala not having a railway line on this side of Motagua River, it is not explained by what right the President of that country undertakes the construction of a road which does not belong to him.
I must state, moreover, to your excellency that the Government of Honduras has not had at any time a force of a thousand men in that territory; that the military guard ordinarily maintained on that frontier is of twenty-nine soldiers, distributed as follows: eleven in Motagua; six in Chachagualia; six in Rio Tinto; and six in Corrientes. Just now, on account of the presence of Guatemalan workmen and soldiers in Honduran territory, there has been sent from the barracks at Omoa an observation guard composed of twenty men which is at present stationed in the place called Gimerito. This is, Mr. Minister, all of the force which Honduras has in that frontier, as will be verified by the Secretary of the American Legation in Guatemala in the inspection which your excellency informs me he is making on our frontier.
I am separately replying to the other important point of your valued note.
With sentiments [etc.]
The Minister for Foreign Affaires to Minister Ewing
Mr. Minister: After referring myself to the preliminary points of your courteous note of the 13th of the present month, I now have the grateful satisfaction to allude to the important matter contained in the said note, relative to the statement which your excellency’s Government made to the Special Mission of the Guatemalan Government, at present in Washington, offering the good offices and mediation of the United States in the boundary question which exists between Honduras and Guatemala.
My Government esteems this offer as a demonstration of the good friendship of the Government of the United States, which it thanks profoundly; because Honduras is confident that with this mediation and good offices can be solved satisfactorily the boundary question with Guatemala which for a long time has caused uneasiness to the frontier towns of both Republics.
I beg, in consequence, that your excellency will be pleased to make known to the Government of the United States the great desire of my Government that it shall be the mediator in the matter under discussion, as soon as the Guatemalan Government accepts, as I have no doubt it will, this friendly and valued intervention.
At the same time I beg that your excellency will be pleased to transmit to your illustrious Government the high appreciation and gratitude of the Government and people of Honduras for its kindly good will in favor of the welfare of this Republic.
I repeat [etc.]