The Chargé in Guatemala (Thurston) to the Secretary of State

Sir: I have the honor to refer the Department to recent cablegrammic correspondence exchanged between us relating to the Guatemalan-Honduranean boundary dispute, and to make the following observations:

Guatemala claims to have fulfilled absolutely its obligations under the terms of the protocol signed by the representatives of Guatemala and Honduras in Tegucigalpa on September 20th, 1917.99

Substantiating this claim, the Minister for Foreign Affairs has pointed out to me that, according to the provisions of Article One, a Special Mission was named; as established in Articles Two and Three the Mission contained the proper elements, and was present in Tegucigalpa before the last day of December, 1917; complying with Article Four every effort is claimed to have been made to prevent any possible cause for disagreement.

He then stated that the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Honduras had notified the American Legation in Tegucigalpa that the Government of Honduras would conclude no boundary treaty with this Special Mission, but would proceed to lay the dispute before an arbiter—the arbiter to be the Government of the United States.

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In view of the fact that Article Five of the protocol quite clearly points out the procedure to be followed in the event that the two Governments fail to effect a Boundary Treaty, or, having effected it, fail to secure its ratification by their respective Legislatures, i. e., [that] the Boundary Treaty of August 1st, 1914,1 will be revived, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Guatemala feels that the arbitration of the question by the United States is not yet in order. It is my impression, however, that the Treaty of 1914, does provide for arbitration.

Feeling that the dispute should be settled amicably between the two Governments, without the active intercession of a third party, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Guatemala requested me to present the foregoing to the Department of State, with the request that pressure be brought to bear upon the Government of Honduras to the end that it live up to the terms of the protocol and conclude a Boundary Treaty with the Special Mission from Guatemala which is at present in Tegucigalpa.

While I do not doubt that it is desired that the matter of this disputed boundary should be settled between the two Governments, I fear that the elaborate claims of each, especially with reference to developed territory, will make this achievement problematical. In this connection I wish to respectfully suggest that, if the Department should urge upon Honduras the continuance of its negotiations with the Special Mission from Guatemala, it at the same time request the Cuyamel Fruit Company to cease its advance.

The activities of the Cuyamel Railroad seem peculiarly irritating to the Government of Guatemala, and I can foresee no “neutral zone” being established as long as the Cuyamel continues its advance. The President feels that it should await the outcome of the negotiations, notwithstanding the fact that it has been quite clearly pointed out to him that matters of concessionary rights in this disputed territory should not enter into the question. As before reported, it is suggested that the Cuyamel confine its work between its “Colon” farm and Omoa. Colon is quite near Jimerito.

I am pressing for the definite withdrawal of all troops from this territory; the recognition of the idea back of their admission that “questions of concessionary rights in disputed territory shall not be injected into a boundary dispute”, which will cover the situation created by the activities of the Cuyamel, and am urging the conclusion of a boundary treaty with Honduras. I will keep the Department fully advised.

I have [etc.]

Walter C. Thurston
  1. Ibid., p. 784.
  2. Foreign Relations, 1917.