The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Peru (Poindexter)
14. Your number 10, February 18, received somewhat garbled. Failure to deliver immediately to Minister for Foreign Affairs and to President Leguía memorandum quoted in my No. 12 of February 16, 6 p.m., is both disappointing and embarrassing. Delivery was requested at earliest possible moment. As stated in my memorandum arrangements for holding a plebiscite are to be maintained unimpaired during the negotiations suggested, and of course General Lassiter will continue actively to proceed with his program without regard to the negotiations. Registration and other plebiscitary activities will not be postponed on this account.
Your telegram contains certain suggestions which are very disquieting, as they indicate misconceptions which I had supposed were no longer possible. The first is that the Plebiscitary Commission has concurrent jurisdiction with Chilean authorities in the government of Tacna and Arica; this is absolutely erroneous. The Treaty of Ancon and the award give the Commission no administrative control whatever over the provinces. Administrative control remains in Chile, and on Chile rests exclusive responsibility for all measures having to do with policing the territory, maintenance of order, protection of Plebiscitary Commission, and establishment of local conditions for executing the plebiscitary regulations. All that the Plebiscitary Commission can do is to demand that Chile take action necessary to these ends.[Page 311]
In the second place, I had thought it had already been made quite clear in my communications and in my conversations with Ambassador Velarde, which were cabled to you, that the Government of the United States not only has no authority to bring pressure by force directly or indirectly upon either Chile or Peru but also does not entertain the slightest intention of doing so. The Plebiscitary Commission can not be supported and will not be supported by any form of forcible intervention from the United States. Under no circumstances would the leverage of a naval visit or other manifestation of force be contemplated.
In the third place, in the event of a settlement this Government will not join in guarantees of any kind, political or economic.
I had hoped to have Peru’s reply before now. If you have not already presented memorandum, please do so at once, and cable reply at earliest possible moment.