Memorandums by Mr. Leon Dominian, Division of Latin American Affairs, Department of State

Honduras-Guatemala Boundary Mediation Conference held at the Department of State, March 1, 1920, at 4:30 P.M.

The following were present:

Representing the Mediator: Dr. Rowe, Messrs. Greene and Dominian.
Representing Honduras: Dr. P. Bonilla, accompanied by Mr. R. H. Valle.
Representing Guatemala: Dr. Toledo Herrarte, accompanied by Dr. M. Prem and Mr. Chandler Anderson.

The minutes were recorded by Miss Wolpe.

Dr. Rowe opened the Conference with the following remarks:

The main reason for meeting this afternoon is to acquaint the representatives of the two countries with the step which the Mediator has deemed advisable to take in connection with the pending controversy.

The last meeting was intended to give notice to the representatives of the two countries that the Mediator desired if possible, to have them come together and to re-assemble in two weeks to ascertain whether the representatives had been able to reach an agreement. At that meeting, you will recall that the representatives of the two countries agreed to disagree, so to speak, and the representatives [Page 315] of Honduras indicated that the Honduran proposal was contained in their memorandum and the representatives of Guatemala indicated that if that was the proposal it might as well be considered then as not acceptable and that an agreement was not possible.

The Mediator, therefore, has reached the conclusion that it is not possible to bring the two parties together and secure a uniformity of view. He does not feel that it is incumbent upon him as Mediator, to propose a line but he is disposed to do so provided he receives a specific request from both Governments that he propose a line. On the other hand, he does not feel willing to propose a line unless he receives the prior assurance of both Governments that the line which he will then propose will be accepted. He requests me to impress the representatives of both countries that this matter is entirely a matter within their respective Governmental policy as to whether they desire to ask him to propose a line coupled with that assurance. If not, then he feels that his services as Mediator have not brought with them any real concrete results and that there would have to be, then, some other procedure agreed upon by the respective Governments. That was decided Saturday and on the same day a telegram was sent to our Chargé at Tegucigalpa and our Minister in Guatemala formulating the conclusions reached by the Mediator with reference to the situation.

Dr. Rowe then stated that he did not think there was anything further to do that afternoon. Everything would depend on the conclusions reached by the respective Governments.

At the conclusion of Dr. Rowe’s remarks, Dr. Toledo Herrarte summarized them in Spanish for the benefit of Dr. Prem, the Guatemalan legal counsel. Subsequently, Dr. Toledo Herrarte inquired whether Dr. Rowe’s statements implied that the Mediation had been converted into an Arbitration.

Dr. Rowe replied stating that the arbitration stage had not been reached and that this was merely a new step in the Mediation. The question of submitting this boundary case to arbitration, he stated, was one that was left to the judgment of the two Governments involved.

Dr. Toledo Herrarte said that he would communicate Dr. Rowe’s remarks to his Government.

Dr. Bonilla then stated that he had taken careful note of Dr. Rowe’s remarks and that he also would communicate them to his Government. As far as the conversion of the Mediation into an Arbitration was concerned, he stated that he had always preferred arbitration to mediation but that it was impossible to submit this question to arbitration without the approval of the Honduran Congress as this was the Constitutional procedure to be followed.

Dr. Rowe stated that the Constitutional procedure would have to be followed necessarily. For the present he thought there was no further action to be taken until the replies of the two Governments [Page 316] involved were received. Upon their receipt arrangements would be made for another Conference.

L[eon] D[ominian]