File No. 763.72/8222a

The Secretary of State to the Guatemalan Special Mission to the United States

The Secretary of State of the United States wishes to assure Mr. Manuel Echeverria y Vidaurre, Mr. Manuel Girón, and Dr. Claudia Urrutia, Envoys Extraordinary of Guatemala in Special Mission to the United States, of the genuine pleasure which he has experienced in receiving them. He further desires to express to them the gratification which the Government of the United States has felt in knowing that their primary object in coming to the United States was to endeavor to render more efficient the generous cooperation and independent stand which the Government of Guatemala, among the very first of the American nations, boldly proclaimed to the world. In championing the cause of right and humanitarianism and in placing herself by the side of the North American Republic, which had taken up arms in support of the cause of democracy, the Government of Guatemala has made it clear that this is the common cause of America, involving the rights of all the peoples of this continent.

In replying to the memorandum of September 14,1 which the Special Mission was good enough to present to the Secretary of State, setting forth certain points which the Government of Guatemala considered were important factors for the purpose of making its cooperation more effective, involving the safeguarding of material interests and the settlement of international questions, and to the additional memoranda, submitted on September 18,2 September [Page 359]27,1 and October 12,1 after conferences at the Department of State, referring in detail to the specific matter involved, the Secretary of State, in the name of the Government of the United States, desires to acknowledge the receipt of these important documents. In so doing he wishes to inform the Envoys Extraordinary that the questions which they have so ably presented therein have been receiving that most careful and painstaking consideration by the various governmental departments, which such momentous and far-reaching questions merit, and that on account of the numerous details which have had to be taken into account and the legal complications which recent developments in the legislation of the United States have occasioned, he is only now in a position to give a definite response to their inquiries and requests which form the basis of the present negotiations. In the accomplishment of this purpose the Government of the United States desires to present the following statements for the consideration and possible action of the Government of Guatemala, through the medium of its distinguished Special Mission.

The cooperation which the Government of Guatemala has offered to the Government of the United States in the present conditions, brought about by the state of hostility existing between this Government and the Imperial German Government, is understood by the United States to consist of the generous offer by the Republic of Guatemala of the unrestricted and free use of its ports and territorial waters on the Atlantic as well as on the Pacific coast; the unrestricted use of its inland transportation facilities, which is understood to mean the railroads and wagon roads throughout the Republic, for purposes of common defense, and also any other specific cooperation which the Government of the United States may ask of the Government of Guatemala.

These offers have been received and accepted in the same spirit in which they have been so wholeheartedly tendered, and it has been noted with a deep sense of gratification that the first step in this cooperation was the severance of diplomatic relations on the part of Guatemala with the Imperial German Government, followed by the taking of precautions to render null the pernicious activity of various German agents in Guatemala, who were attempting to harm the common cause of Guatemala, the United States, and the Allied powers. In this connection the Government of the United States is convinced that nothing will be left undone by the Government of Guatemala to see that these subjects of the Imperial German Government, either consular officers or agents remaining in Guatemala and who may be engaged in fomenting plots or employed in other hostile activities, may be prevented from [Page 360]taking any action which might have a harmful effect in that part of the world in which Guatemala plays so important a role.

In view of the position assumed by the Government of Guatemala, under direction of the Chief Executive of that Republic, Licenciado Don Manuel Estrada Cabrera, called by his country bene merito de la Patria, and feeling confident of his continued cooperation, in any further desires of the Government of the United States, this Government wishes to convey to him, through the valuable medium of the Envoys Extraordinary in Special Mission, the assurances that in contemplating any readjustments of commercial and shipping facilities the United States will not be unmindful of this position.

The opinion expressed by the Government of Guatemala as to the necessity for favorable conditions affecting the material interests of the two Republics is fully sympathized with and concurred in by the Government of the United States and for that reason it desires to lend its best efforts to giving all possible reciprocal aid to the Government of Guatemala.

1. With particular reference to the matter of the facilities which the Government of Guatemala requests shall be accorded to it in order that the necessaries of life which that Republic needs may be imported from the United States, it is desired to state that due note has been taken of this request and a careful study has been made of this question.

As is well known to the Special Mission, there has been created in the United States, by Executive order, an administrative section of the Government known as the War Trade Board, which passes upon all applications for licenses to export from the United States to any other country such articles as have been enumerated in the lists published subsequent to the above-mentioned Executive order. In view of the utmost necessity for taking the most careful steps to prevent any articles which might be of service or use to the enemy from reaching their hands, and on account of the reports of the Food Administration of this Government, which clearly indicate that the greatest care must be taken to mobilize the material resources of the country through painstaking conservation, the Executive order prohibits the export from the United States, without license, of every article, excepting to the Allies, Guatemala, and to certain countries for which there is a special list.

In order to meet the wishes of the Government of Guatemala, to which country on account of her cooperation the Government of the United States desires to afford every facility for the prompt execution of all licenses for articles which she might wish to import, this Government will give immediate instructions to that effect, [Page 361]and will further undertake, should necessity arise, to give very careful consideration to the question of establishing special license bureaus at the ports from which exports to Guatemala are embarked, in order that no undue delay may be occasioned.

In regard to those commodities which Guatemala has been in the habit of importing from the United States, it is desired to inform the Special Mission that certain of these are now being conserved and are not being exported except by special arrangement, but in view of the specific request of the Department of State and pending the termination of the present negotiations with the Special Mission, licenses are being granted by the War Trade Board for the export to Guatemala of these articles.

In order that the export of all articles to Guatemala may be continued, it is desired that the Government of Guatemala give a solemn undertaking to the effect that neither of these articles, nor articles which they may replace, will be exported or reexported from Guatemala.

If this undertaking is given and the proper guaranties are furnished, the Government of the United States will pledge itself to do all in its power to see that the needs of Guatemala are properly cared for, due consideration to be given, however, to future contingencies.

2. The Government of the United States feels as much interest and concern as does the Government of Guatemala in the matter of ocean 4 transportation between the two countries, and is particularly desirous that the proportion of tonnage now engaged in the traffic between United States and Guatemalan ports shall be maintained at its present ratio, both on account of the desire that reciprocal treatment be accorded Guatemala, for the aid she is rendering the United States, and with a view to continuing without restriction the receipt of those valuable and much needed products which Guatemala supplies. Very careful consideration has been given to this matter and an endeavor will be made to prevent any unnecessary change in the present conditions. Nevertheless, in order adequately to meet the uncertain exigencies of war, the Government of the United States has under consideration the development of a towing barge system suitable for ocean transportation, to be operated from New Orleans, La., and would be glad to discuss with the Government of Guatemala suitable bases of cooperation with a view to extending such a service to Guatemalan ports, thus facilitating the direct exchange of Guatemalan products with those of the United States and particularly with those of the Mississippi Valley.

3. The question of the present economic condition and the financial needs of Guatemala, so clearly set forth in the comprehensive [Page 362]memorandum of the Special Mission, has had the careful attention of the officials of the Treasury Department who have made themselves conversant with all of the phases of the matter. In reply to the specific request contained in the above-mentioned memorandum, the Government of the United States finds itself, unfortunately, in the present position of having to inform the Government of Guatemala that legal inhibitions do not permit it to comply with this request. However, the Government of the United States desires to say that if there is any assistance which it may render to the Government of Guatemala by placing the experience of the Treasury Department at the disposal of that Government, it is needless to say that the most hearty cooperation of the Secretary of the Treasury may be relied upon.

4. As has been the practice in the past, and particularly in view of the present cooperation which is being given by the Government of Guatemala to the Government of the United States in the conflict with the Imperial German Government, it is desired to state that the same facilities are open to the Government of Guatemala for the importation into that Republic from the United States of that armament required for the defense of its ports and cities and for the efficient military preparedness of the country.

5. The statement of the Special Mission with reference to any possible attacks upon the sovereignty of Guatemala has been given most earnest consideration by the Government of the United States. As the Government of Guatemala was informed on May 1, 1917, through its Legation in Washington, when the Government of the United States accepted with gratitude the friendly cooperation of Guatemala in the present war against the Imperial German Government, the lasting friendship and the earnest and steadfast support of the United States is assured for the purpose of carrying out the plans for common defense.

The Treaties of Washington, signed by the Central American States in 1907, would seem ample guaranty for the maintenance of peace and friendly intercourse between the signatory nations, but should the occasion arise, the friendly nations of the Western Continent may rely, as always, upon the pacific efforts of the United States for the adjustment of difficulties between them.

6. The Government of the United States has given careful consideration to the interesting exposition which has been made by the Special Mission of Guatemala of the differences of opinion existing between the Governments of Guatemala and of Honduras as to the delimitation of their respective frontiers, and it is noted with pleasure that the memorandum presented by the Special Mission indicates that the best way to attain a satisfactory settlement of the question [Page 363]would be by means of the negotiation of a full and definite boundary treaty, equitable to both countries in which each of the truly sister Republics, as set forth in the memorandum, might yield some territorial claim, in the interest of harmony. The United States, being anxious that the boundary disputes between the two countries may be satisfactorily and speedily settled, will cheerfully extend to both countries, if desired by them, its impartial good offices and mediation, in order to facilitate the adjustment of the controversy.

  1. Ante, pp. 326.
  2. Foreign Relations, 1917, pp. 766 778.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Not printed.