The President of the Central & South American Telegraph Co. ( Merrill ) to the Secretary of State

Sir: For your information, I quote herewith a cablegram received from our Vice President, Mr. J. H. Stabler, viz;

“Buenos Aires, December 1, 1919.

New York.

10. This afternoon at six a notary public came to the office with a formal protest from the Western Telegraph Company in which it is set forth that that Company notifies the Central and South American Telegraph Company that it sustains its contention that the Decree of the Argentine Government authorizing our Buenos Aires-Montevideo cable is illegal and warns the Central and South American Telegraph Company that it will be held responsible for any damage and injuries caused to Western Telegraph Company by the use of the above concession which the Western Telegraph Company claim was secured by legal fraud by the Central and South American Telegraph Company working in evidently legal bad faith.

Before making a statement of any kind to the Notary, Beccar4 was called to the office station, the notary read to him the protest. Beccar advises that the Company should only receive this document under a counter protest and dictated a statement to the following effect that the terms used in the Western Telegraph Company’s [Page 179] protest were impertinent and unacceptable and that the Central and South American Telegraph Company considers that the Western Telegraph Company had no right to judge the acts of the Central and South American Telegraph Company, that as to the Company proper the declarations of the Western Telegraph Company are without foundation and that the Central and South American Telegraph Company reserves all of its rights.

This statement was then signed and handed to the notary.

As it was also stated in the protest of the Western Telegraph Company that a copy was to be handed to the Minister of the Interior, Beccar advises that a short statement of our position refuting in general the declarations of the Western Telegraph Company be sent in a formal manner to that Company and a copy be handed to the Minister of the Interior.

The object of this statement is to strengthen the position of Minister of the Interior and that of the Government.

Beccar thinks that this procedure on the part of the Western Telegraph Company has little importance and should be taken only as an indication that the Western Telegraph Company has decided to make a direct attack upon our Company and bring suit against it for damages and injuries.

He does not consider that they have a good case against us and has no fear for the outcome.

I have increasing confidence in Beccar and his opinions and we will proceed with great care.

I am keeping the Ambassador advised.

(Signed) Stabler [”]

To this telegram we have replied as follows;

“New York, December 3rd, 1919.

Buenos Aires.

24. Your 10. Carefully noted. We have every confidence in your own and Beccar’s handling of situation.

(Signed) Merrill [”]

The Mr. Beccar referred to is our Counsel in Buenos Aires.

For your further information, I quote a telegram received this morning from Vice President Stabler;

“Buenos Aires, December 4, 1919.

New York.

13. Minister Interior still ill at home and provisional permit unsigned.

Gallegos informed confidentially in Ministry of Interior that Minister had made some objection to giving provisional permit. He thinks that Minister may possibly be influenced by Western Telegraph Company protest.

An attempt will be made today to get at him again by sub-Secretary Interior who prepared our papers for Minister’s signature.

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Ambassador has been kept advised of our difficulties and will make inquiries of Minister of Foreign Affairs this P.M. as to status our permit.

I have sent personal and confidential message to President Uruguay asking him, if he sees no objection, to inquiring of Argentine Government when permit will be given for opening our line so messages can go to United States from Uruguay direct over one line.

I think that it might aid in hastening action, and if you approve of the following message be given to Dr. Rowe of State Department.5

‘I am having difficulty in getting permit to open our Buenos Aires-Montevideo cable to public. We have had permit from Uruguay Government for over ten days.

Everything is in order here and contract signed by Argentine Government and Director Posts and Telegraphs has approved and only signature of President to decree authorize opening our line lacking.

Minister of Interior can give us provisional permit to open immediately but there seems to be delay in that Ministry.

In view of foregoing I think it would facilitate matters materially if Department would make request of Argentine Ambassador to ask his Government when it will give necessary permit to open for traffic as Government of United States desires to send soon as possible American cables to Uruguay over an American cable.[’]

(Signed) Stabler [”]

Also, a telegram sent to our Washington Manager, Mr. O’Brien, quoting Mr. Stabler’s telegram;

“New York, December 5, 1919.


Following for Doctor Rowe from Vice President Stabler, dated Buenos Aires, December 4th, 1919.

[Here follows message for Dr. Rowe embodied in Stabler’s telegram quoted supra.]

(Signed) Merrill [”]

In connection with the foregoing correspondence, I call your attention to my letter to you of December 28th, 1918, copy of which I enclose herewith.6

With great respect, I am [etc.]

John L. Merrill
  1. Counsel for Central & South American Telegraph Co. in Buenos Aires.
  2. Dr. Leo S. Rowe, chief of Division of Latin American Affairs from November, 1919.
  3. Not printed.