723.2515/1818: Telegram

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

9. [Paraphrase.] Department’s No. 4, January 7, 9 p.m. On receiving Department’s No. 85, December 22, 6 [1] p.m.,67 I informally stated to Argentine Ambassador that, although the United States could not suggest to Chile and to Peru any method of settlement except the plebiscite and could not even ask or suggest to any other nation that it make suggestions of that nature to Chile and to Peru, the United States does not question the right, nor would it regard the action as an impropriety, were his Government, of its own accord, to suggest to Chile and to Peru that they ask the Arbitrator to amplify his powers in way he had suggested to me, as I reported in my No. 144, of December 17.68

I told the Ambassador that any suggestion by Argentine Government could not affect impartiality of Arbitrator, however, or integrity of the plebiscite; that Arbitrator would not make any suggestion whatever to the litigants and that plebiscite would have to proceed without interruption unless both nations should request another mode of procedure. I stated that nothing should be done implying criticism of the award, and he concurred.

I made exactly the same statement, informally, in its entirety, a day or so later, to the Uruguayan Minister, adding as my personal opinion, that I thought suggestion made by Argentine Ambassador better than that of Uruguayan Minister (already reported to Department). The Minister said that Argentine Ambassador had told him of the latter’s suggestion to me.

On December 26 the Uruguayan Minister sent a long despatch to his Government about his separate conversations with the Argentine Ambassador and with me. I did not learn of this action until yesterday when I called on him and he read me the complete text of his despatch. The Minister made it quite clear to his Government that the United States would make no suggestion whatever to the parties litigant, but would offer no objection to course that Argentine Ambassador had suggested.

Uruguayan Minister practically stated to his Government that Argentine plan was preferable to his own. Mr. Grant-Smith evidently misunderstood the Uruguayan Minister for Foreign Affairs and has reported to Department that the Uruguayan Minister for Foreign Affairs had been informed by Uruguayan Minister here that [Page 265] I had been instructed to sound out Chilean Foreign Office in the matter. The Uruguayan Minister understands exactly the contrary, however, and has reported in that wise to his Government. Not in any way have I ever mentioned to Chilean Government possibility of anything but plebiscitary solution since my report to Department on October 28, 1925, following Department’s instruction of October 26, 1925.69

I think that our Embassy in Argentina and our Legation in Montevideo should now be instructed; if Department desires, Embassy here could repeat to them my No. 144 of December 17, and Department’s No. 85 of December 22, or such portions as Department would authorize, or they could be mailed Saturday evening, arriving Buenos Aires and Montevideo next Tuesday.

When the Uruguayan Minister read me his despatch yesterday, I learned incidentally, that he reported in it that a short time before my first talk with him, President Figueroa had informally asked him and Argentine Ambassador if their Governments would not intervene in the matter. I have not yet ascertained whether he suggested any specific plan, but I believe that that suggestion and suggestion of Argentine Ambassador to me are being considered together by Uruguayan Foreign Office. [End paraphrase.]

El Diario Ilustrado has published editorial commenting on United Press despatch reported in my number 7 of January 5th70 and strongly favors diplomatic settlement but adds that neither Chile nor Peru will dare to take initiative and that the United States, as the impartial nation, ought to take it. Today same paper commenting on recent incident in Tacna71 as indicative of impossibility of repressing popular feeling and guaranteeing orderly plebiscite, again calls on United States as impartial nation friendly to both litigants to advise them to settle diplomatically.

[Paraphrase.] From the foregoing it looks as if the Argentine suggestion might meet with favorable reception here should Argentine Government be disposed to make it.

I have just been told by Chilean Minister for Foreign Affairs that Chilean Government has instructed Intendente of Tacna to make thorough investigation of recent incident and to have guilty punished and order maintained at all cost. Minister also says that Mathieu,72 [Page 266] who is now ill in hospital at Ancon, will be unable to be in Santiago before February 1. Minister also said that Edwards74 was returning to Arica in entire sympathy with views of the new administration. From another source, however, I am reliably informed that close relations between Edwards and Mathieu have not existed for a long time. [End paraphrase.]

  1. Not printed; see summary in telegram No. 1, Jan. 4, to the Ambassador in Peru, p. 260.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Neither printed.
  4. Not printed; the press despatch which was from Washington stated, without attribution to any official source, that the Arbitrator would be favorably disposed if both Chile and Peru should inform him that the best method of reaching a settlement would be through diplomatic negotiations instead of a plebiscite.
  5. See telegram from the consul at Arica, Jan. 8, infra.
  6. Beltran Mathieu, formerly Chilean Ambassador in the United States, who was en route to Chile to become Minister for Foreign Affairs.
  7. Agustín Edwards, Chilean member of the Plebiscitary Commission.