File No. 763.72/9924

The Ambassador in Argentina ( Stimson ) to the Secretary of State

No. 560

Sir: Referring to my cable of April 10, 3 p.m., and of April 12, 1 p.m., concerning the relations between Uruguay and Germany, I have only to add that even in case the German Government refuses to receive Uruguay’s representations and a state of war results between those two countries, I have considerable doubt—in view of the manner in which President Irigoyen has always talked to me—whether he will take any further action before some actual aggression is made upon the waters of the River Plate.

There is a very general impression that the basin of the Plate is within the national sovereignty, and that its immunity from belligerent activities is guaranteed by treaty, and in view of the recent declarations of President Irigoyen to the President of Uruguay, or his Minister, we may indeed assume that that is his own attitude. In fact, it is a kind of Monroe Doctrine for Argentina that it will join with neighboring countries in defending the River Plate and its tributaries.

[Page 687]

President Irigoyen’s attitude is best shown in the inaugural message of the President of Uruguay to the new Legislature, on the 15th of February last, in which these words occur:

By reason of having very serious suspicions that the German Government was fomenting an insurrection of German colonists in the south of Brazil, with the intention of invading the north of Uruguay, the Uruguayan Government made President Irigoyen acquainted with this state of affairs and asked him to express what would be the attitude of the Argentine Government in case Uruguay would direct to it a demand for munitions of war to arm the troops that it mobilized.

President Irigoyen made known to the representative of our country in Argentina that in the case of such an attack the Argentine Government would put all its resources in defense of the sovereignty of the Uruguayan Nation, and assume all consequent responsibilities.

As this extract was printed in black type on the front page of La Epoca, the Government organ, on the 16th of February, the following day, under the headline, “A Great Revelation—Noble Act of the Argentine President—American Sovereignty,” it may be assumed to be not only accurate but again emphasized by President Irigoyen, as these leaders in the Epoca are always shown to him before publication.

The treaties concerning the subject are, so far as I can find, only the convention with Brazil of November 20, 1857, guaranteeing the Parana, Uruguay and Paraguay rivers, that with Great Britain of November 24, 1849, section IV, concerning the Parana and Uruguay rivers, and the treaty of July 10, 1853, with Great Britain on the same subject. None of these specifically cover the River Plate, but I will further refer to my despatch No. 456, of November 7, 1917,1 which covers the subject at some length.

I have [etc.]

F. J. Stimson
  1. Not printed.