723.2515/610: Telegram

The Ambassador in Chile (Shea) to the Secretary of State

57. My 49, your 23. Following is the text of the note of Minister for Foreign Affairs dated 30th.92

“Mr. Ambassador: In view of the insistently disavowed popular disturbances which occurred a short time ago in La Paz, Your Excellency delivered to my honorable predecessor a note, dated the 18th instant, which reflects the grave apprehension of the American Government with regard to such incidents, calls attention to the serious responsibility of Bolivia and of those who encourage her, holds that they inflict injury on the good name of Bolivia and on her purpose of obtaining a port on the Pacific, and signifies that it would deplore mobilization and the outbreak of hostilities on this South American coast, which would not be countenanced by the civilized world.

My honorable predecessor, Señor Alamiro Huidobro answered Your Excellency, on the 19th instant, that he deplores the La Paz disorders, that these were the result of an assault on a Bolivian army officer by Peruvian residents, and that the; instigators of the popular disorders and those who encourage them deserve censure. He blames the frequent alarms raised by Peru, and, as regards Chile, the party principally interested in the territories of Tacna and Arica, he affirms our unalterable and sincere desire for peace and our misgiving regarding every design which disturbs international quiet, ideas confirmed by the absolute tranquillity in which we live.

After Señor Huidobro’s note was sent to Your Excellency, our Ambassador at Washington, Señor Mathieu, cabled us that he had informed the Secretary of State of the attitude of aloofness which Chile has observed on this occasion as in former conflicts between Bolivia and Peru, and that the Secretary of State told him that the attitude of the United States in this emergency is the same as that assumed by President Wilson in the case of the difficulties between Chile and Peru, an attitude limited to conciliatory counsel without any idea of bringing pressure or of intervening in any form other than mediation or good offices asked for by both parties.

In the light of this report of the Chilean Ambassador, the spirit and the significance of Your Excellency’s note of the 18th instant are clearly defined. The Government of the United States has not thought, nor does it think, of intervening in any form in the affairs which Chile has pending with Bolivia and with Peru or of bringing any pressure whatever to bear on them, with the single exception of that arising out of a request made by all parties in common agreement for the good offices or mediation of the American Government.

Your Excellency’s note, then, as far as Chile is concerned, has merely an informatory character and has been inspired solely by the cordial interest, an interest in every way reciprocal, which the American Government takes in Chile and in our prosperity.

[Page 339]

There was ground for attributing to Your Excellency’s note the spirit and the significance which I have just established.

Chile has never accepted interventions and can, without boasting, as Your Excellency’s Government is aware, assert now, as she has always said, that she would accept them neither in the case of Tacna–Arica, nor in any other, on the part of any power or powers.

For its part, the American Union, a free country, has for years conducted its foreign policy on lines of equality, consonant with liberty, and rising above differences in territory, population, wealth, and armed force. Its statesmen and publicists understand that for the United States no other expansion than in culture and commerce is necessary and fitting, and they have solemnly and repeatedly declared that they repudiate all idea of intervention, save only the necessity of protecting the Union’s own vital interests.

Recently, when the hour of peace sounded for the world, Your Excellency’s Government, with the emphasis peculiar to the American character, put forward advanced formulas of democracy and international equality.

This lofty policy of the Government of the United States is not strange to Chile. I shall mention only two of its immediate precedents. If I am permitted to cite a governmental declaration with which my own testimony is connected, I would remind Your Excellency that in 1906, on the occasion of receiving your eminent Secretary of State, Mr. Root, as our guest, I characterized the Chilean-American policy in the same terms as I set forth in this present note.93 Recently, in December 1918, it received a confirmation no less significant than that of Mr. Root, when President Wilson abstained from intervening between Chile and Peru at the time they had suspended their consular relations.

The mounting curve of Chilean–American international trade shows that our two Republics feel themselves to be mutually and satisfactorily bound together by a common faith in the principle of non-intervention.

I bring this policy to mind today with a very brief summary of the doctrine and traditions which support it, in the well-justified hope that our cordiality and our intercourse may be intensified and augmented, as they have hitherto been, throughout a prosperous and prolonged future.

Your Excellency has truly been one of the most enlightened and effective workers for that policy and that cordiality. The feeling of respect and sympathy which has permeated Your Excellency’s dealings is a strong proof of this. I have thought, for this reason, that Your Excellency would be pleased to be acquainted with the report of our Ambassador, already transmitted, and with the complete and frank reflections of my Government.

Accept, Your Excellency, the assurance of my highest and most distinguished consideration.

Antono Huneeus”

Following is text of my reply of to-day:

“Excellency: I have had the honor to receive Your Excellency’s note number 430 of the 30th instant. In it Your Excellency makes a résumé of the antecedents of the note transmitted to the Minister [Page 340] for Foreign Affairs on March 18th, and of the reply made to me by Your Excellency’s distinguished predecessor, Señor Alamiro Huidobro, dated the [19th].

Your Excellency now transmits to me telegraphic information received by Your Excellency from the Chilian Ambassador in Washington, Señor Mathieu, according to which the Secretary of State declared to Señor Mathieu that the United States maintained in the last incident between Bolivia and Peru the same attitude which it observed in the case of the difficulties between Chili and Peru; an attitude subject to conciliatory counsel without any design to exercise pressure or to intervene in any form except by mediation or our good offices solicited by the interested parties.

Your Excellency acknowledges that this attitude is noble, and that [it] conforms with the international principles of non-intervention, with the policy adjusted to those principles which the United States and Chili have maintained in their relations, and in general, with the spirit of American democracy.

Your Excellency is good enough to point out the development of our commercial intercourse, and does me the honor of counting me as one of the collaborators of Chilian-American cordiality, and for that reason Your Excellency believes that I would be pleased to have the information furnished by Señor Mathieu and also to know the Chilian Government[’s] thought.

Your Excellency is correct in believing that [I] would be glad to receive the report of the Chilian Ambassador, which is transcribed. This report [accords with] my own opinion of the attitude of my Government towards the Government of Chili with reference to the incidents which occurred in La Paz.

The non-intervention principles, which Your Excellency is good enough to recall, were incorporated in the policy of the United States towards Chili many years ago. Your Excellency recalls having exactly defined them in the speech with which Your Excellency, then Minister for Foreign Affairs, received the illustrious Secretary of State of the American Union, Mr. Elihu Root.

The attitude of my Government in the conflict which took place in December 1918, resulting in the withdrawal of the Chilian and Peruvian Consuls, is another evidence of our expressed policy.

I cannot conceal my pleasure that the impression conveyed to [Señor] Mathieu should be exactly in accord with my own views to which Your Excellency with the broad vision and elevated statesmanship so endowing your public career, also gives unqualified approval.

I am especially pleased, Mr. Minister, to take into consideration the increasing commercial development which unites our countries and to believe that Your Excellency does not think me unmindful of that important reciprocal prosperity.

Since I arrived in Chili I have thought that the more each country knows of the other the more our two countries will learn to appreciate each other; my stay in your noble country so far has convinced me of that.

I avail myself of this opportunity to renew the assurances of my highest consideration.[”]

  1. Transmitted text revised after comparison with the Spanish text as published in La Union, Apr. 1, enclosed with the Ambassador’s despatch no. 525, Apr. 14 (file no. 723.2515/643).
  2. See Foreign Relations, 1906, pt. 1, p. 151.