723.2515/2497a: Telegram

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


113. During absence of the Secretary of State for a few days, Ambassador Cruchaga called at the Department yesterday afternoon to seek an interview with Assistant Secretary Olds. He made what appears to be an interesting and significant démarche, by virtually requesting that diplomatic negotiations be resumed. First he inquired whether we had become “tired” of the Tacna-Arica problem and if we meant to drop it. He was given the assurance that the good offices of this Government remained available at all times and that the parties could count upon our cooperation in the promotion of a settlement as long as any hope for a settlement existed. The Ambassador then proceeded to declare, in substance, that present situation could not be allowed to run on; that it was absurd to think that this problem admitted of no solution; that the recent circulars published by Chile and Peru33 indicated clearly necessity of a negotiated settlement and that the best sentiment in Chile is now overwhelmingly in favor of settlement of that sort; that within past few days he had received urgent personal telegrams from President Figueroa, from Minister for Foreign Affairs, from 12 Senators, and from as many leading members of Chamber of Deputies, asking that he do all he can to effect a solution; … that Mathieu intends to remain as Minister for Foreign Affairs until a settlement is made; that time has come for the Secretary of State to formulate and bring forth proposal for final settlement of whole problem; and that it is his (Cruchaga’s) belief that Chile will now accept whatever the Secretary [Page 487] may propose. When Chile’s formal withdrawal from the recent negotiations was referred to, the Ambassador suggested that a meeting be brought about by inviting the Chilean and Peruvian representatives to the Department in their capacity as Ambassadors, not as Plenipotentiaries in the negotiations. Cruchaga said that he would attend such a meeting without hesitation if asked to come as Ambassador. He laid great stress on Chile’s deplorable position before the world in the face of General Lassiter’s condemnation. The Ambassador appeared to assume that as soon as the record arrives in Washington, Arbitrator might be expected to deal with it; he further assumed that conclusion reached in termination resolution of June 14 would be affirmed by Arbitrator, but he argued that it was not necessary for Arbitrator to go beyond a simple affirmation of that decision and that he could pass over and not deal with question of where blame for failure of plebiscite lay. Cruchaga expressed hope that Arbitrator’s affirmation along these lines might take place simultaneously with a constructive settlement of entire problem.

The Ambassador said nothing in this conversation to indicate that he was not acting in pursuance of instructions. It is of importance that we ascertain immediately whether Government of Chile really means business by this démarche, or whether it is merely an attempt to resume the same futile discussions in which we were engaged for the past 3 months. It would be very unfortunate if we were to make another beginning at this time unless we were fairly certain of being able to reach a successful conclusion. Instead, it might be better to wait awhile. Will public opinion in Chile, at this juncture, support a settlement? Please understand that we are quite ready to go ahead at any moment if Chile and Peru desire and if conditions are favorable, and that the good offices of this Government are always available. Please investigate at once and advise us fully.

  1. Chilean and Peruvian circulars not printed.