The Chargé in Salvador (Arnold) to the Secretary of State

No. 638

Sir: Referring to my telegram No. 25 of June 25, 1920, 9 A.M.,36 regarding a circular telegram which was sent June 24th by the Salvadorian Government to the Chancelleries of the Central American Republics inviting them to send delegates to a convention to be held in order to discuss the questions pertaining to the Union of Central America, I have the honor to enclose to the Department a copy of the circular telegram with translation which was published in the Diario Oficial of June 24, 1920.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

I have [etc.]

Frank D. Arnold
[Page 170]
[Enclosure—Circular telegram—Translation36]

The Salvadoran Minister of Foreign Affairs (Paredes) to the Costa Rican, Guatemalan, Honduran, and Nicaraguan Ministers of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Minister: Since March 1918, when the legal life of the Central American Court of Justice terminated by virtue of the expiration of the term of 10 years for which it was established as an institution of peace and a high exponent of the principle of arbitration, nothing practical has been done to restore it to the juridical international existence that shed so much credit and lustre on Central America.

Some initiatives have been taken by the various chancelleries of the isthmus and the Central American International Bureau, but they have not prospered, owing, perhaps, to abnormal circumstances, for which the course of events is responsible.

The cessation of the High Tribunal, one of the essential functions of which was that of adjudicating the disagreements arising amongst the nations of Central America, brought about an irregular and uncertain situation as regards the stability and force of the pacts signed in Washington, which, for a decade, served as the cornerstone of Central American public law.

By official declarations made on distinct occasions, my Government has maintained that the termination of the jurisdictional powers of the Central American Court of Justice rendered invalid the General Treaty of Peace and Amity signed in Washington on December 20, 1907, since the Court was not only the most efficient manifestation of the Central American juridical life that the pact proclaimed and maintained, but because it also constituted the activating principle, the necessary complement, to that treaty, with which it formed a homogeneous whole and from which it could not be separated.

But whatever may be the judgment of Your Excellency on this matter, this Ministry believes that the opportunity has arrived to promote the assembling of a Central American Conference, composed of two delegates from each section of the isthmus, for the purpose of examining and expounding the abnormal juridical situation and of framing principles of conduct applicable to the constant relations that our peoples and Governments daily maintain. It will be charged with the revision of the pacts of Washington, taking into account such amendments, amplifications, and deletions as may be suggested by circumstances and experience, and with the full reestablishment of arbitration as the only patriotic means of settling our possible differences, entrusting that high mission to a genuinely [Page 171] Central American tribunal. All these are high and noble aspirations, deeply rooted in the Central American national conscience.

In addition, the Conference will have full jurisdiction to settle the following problems that so deeply affect the future of these nations:

Unification of the Constitutional text and body of substantive laws;
Unification of secondary and professional education;
Uniformity of customs duties, both frontier and maritime, and free interchange of Central American products;
Unification of moneys, weights and measures, etc.;
Adoption of a common national coat-of-arms and flag; and
Extradition, with expeditious means of carrying it into effect.

Settlement of these and other matters, proper to the Conference, would result in establishing, in an effective manner, the permanent basis for the future realization of the union of these sister nations. If, once and for all, laws can be passed drawing us together in economic and administrative respects, then the political union would be but the necessary and indispensable complement to that most laudable effort.

There is now a spirit of fraternity and good will amongst the people of Central America, propitious for the development of efforts leading to the attainment of the highest end of patriotism, namely, the union of Central America.

The delegates should bring to the Conference appropriate and ample instructions from their Governments, in order that, by giving special attention to this subject, their efforts may lead to the study, development, and exposition of a plan of union, designed on principles of truth and justice with a view to creating a common politico-administrative life answering to the changeless aspiration of the nations and the ardent Central American sentiment that manifests itself spontaneously among all the groups and classes of our social organism.

My Government has followed with lively interest the Unionist movement in the various Central American regions, and judges it to be a supreme obligation of the directing powers of the five sections, in the historic moment that we are now passing through, to cooperate in an effective and practical way for the realization of such noble desires.

Thus, in a simple form, but of incalculable and transcendent importance, the Conference, by its preliminary labors in forging juridical bonds of unification and reciprocity, would place the principle of union on a solid and definite foundation; by formulating the plan of the Central American Union it would satisfy conscientiously and judiciously the highest and loftiest aspiration of the national sentiment of the people of the isthmus, producing a stable project in [Page 172] accordance with which the Governments may complete, without effort, the work of union.

I submit, then, for the consideration of Your Excellency’s illustrious Government, the expediency of the summoning of a Central American Conference of plenipotentiaries clothed with full powers to study, consider, and carry out the ample program that I briefly set forth, the seat of which Conference would be any one of our capital cities.

With respect to this, my Government would consider with pleasure the designation of San Salvador, but, of course, manifests the desire to agree, through its delegates, on the Central American capital that the majority of Governments may determine.

As to the date of the meeting of the Central American Conference, it might be set as the 15th of September next, with a view to allowing sufficient time to do the preliminary work and to come to an understanding on the objects of the present movement.

I beg Your Excellency to have the kindness to transmit the valued opinion of your illustrious Government in relation to the points comprised in this note, making at the same time any suggestions which it may believe advantageous for the best success of the ends in view.

I assure [etc.]

Juan Franco. Paredes
  1. Not printed.
  2. File translation revised.