723.2515/2654: Telegram

The Ambassador in Peru ( Poindexter ) to the Secretary of State


86. Your No. 72, October 8, 6 p.m. I shall carry out your instructions promptly, but I beg leave, as an aid in presenting matter to President, to ask if it is possible for you to inform me regarding terms you proposed to Ellis; also the approximate terms of settlement which would be acceptable to Chile, or which would be at least open to discussion by her as preliminary basis of agreement. In talking with President I would be greatly aided by having some reliable information on Chile’s attitude toward settlement and if possible what basis of settlement she would consider. For example, would a money indemnity to be paid, perhaps jointly by Bolivia and Peru, or reciprocal trade, tariff equalization, or peace compact have any effect in matter? I have impression that Peru would agree immediately to neutralization of Tacna-Arica, or even to Chile’s retention Arica Province provided that Arica city itself were neutralized; or as possible alternative, that Arica city be included in corridor to Bolivia, and that Tacna Province be returned to Peru. I am not aware, of course, what would be the attitude of Chile to either of these propositions. On the general question of whether or not President wishes a speedy and practical termination of question, he has already said that he does and I surmise that he would say so again. The difficulty seems to lie in finding the practical and definite terms.

[Page 495]

Also I should like to have your consideration and advice of effect of pressing question of Tacna-Arica again at this moment when question of ratification of boundary treaty with Colombia37 is at critical stage of consideration by Congress and President. I am informed that the latter is bringing strong influence to bear to have treaty ratified and that some members of the Congress have, accordingly, changed their positions. A favorable report upon the treaty is now being prepared by the Joint Committee on Foreign Relations. Within about a month a vote may be reached, I believe, on this matter, and the question arises in my mind on advisability of centering our purpose on the Government for ratification of this treaty, at least until present session of Congress has been given fair opportunity to act upon it. If favorable action is taken on this Peruvian-Colombian boundary treaty, the effect would be, probably, to create a more favorable tendency towards settlement with Chile. On other hand, if Congress should either fail to act or should act adversely on treaty we would be in a position to insist more vigorously on a settlement with Chile, in view of connection the United States has with the matter and of the many assurances Peru has given.

I am submitting these observations merely for your consideration. If you prefer that I confer at once with President on Tacna-Arica matter, as instructed, please cable me.

  1. See pp. 534 ff.