723.2515/2654: Telegram

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


74. Your No. 86, October 11, 11 a.m. All points set forth in your telegram have been most carefully considered. Even though importance is realized of situation touching ratification of Peruvian-Colombian boundary treaty which this Government is most anxious to see Peru ratify, Department feels that delay just now in the Tacna-Arica negotiations would be very detrimental. I feel that I must ask you to take up with President Leguía, as soon as possible, matter contained in my No. 72, October 8, 6 p.m. I am relying upon your utmost tact and discretion, looking toward avoiding any complications over ratification of Peruvian-Colombian boundary treaty.

Referring to your request for information on terms proposed to Ellis, it must be pointed out that no definite proposal has been made either to Cruchaga or to Velarde or to their respective legal advisers. In the conversations I have had with both parties, certain very general [Page 496] plans have been advanced, and I have asked Ellis confidentially to obtain President Leguía’s views or possible suggestions regarding a very tentative plan which is as follows:

Give Department of Tacna to Peru, together with city of Tacna and all territory to a line drawn . . . . . kilometers to north and west of railroad.

Give Department of Arica to Chile, together with city of Arica from point drawn . . . . . kilometers south and east of railroad; a corridor . . . . . kilometers wide including Arica-La Paz railroad from Bolivian frontier to point on seacoast about 3 kilometers north of city of Arica to be given Bolivia; the Arica-La Paz railroad to be made over into a limited liability company, the shares to be owned by Chile and Bolivia, Peru to purchase from each a certain number of shares should she desire to do so; the railroad to be managed by a foreign corporation which will have control of stock either by purchase or by agreement; Bolivia, Chile, and Peru to be given a free port and terminal facilities; no one of the three countries to enjoy any discrimination in rates or tariffs of the railroad; the same three countries to enter into a customs agreement; Chile to lease the terminal facilities and docks to the railroad company; Chile also to lease to Bolivia a strip of territory in city of Arica on outskirts of city along the water front, after manner of Fiume plan, this strip of territory to run from a point on the water front at end of street known as Dos de Mayo and extending one block east on same street, thence continuing north and east along and including the Arica-La Paz railroad tracks to southern boundary of so-called Bolivian corridor north of the Chinchorro railroad shops, the railway yards, buildings and stations in Arica, and right to use the new railway wharf. By these means Bolivia would have for her own use joined to the corridor a strip of territory on the waterfront of the city whereon she could erect customhouses and other public buildings she might wish to build. The entire territory would be demilitarized and Bolivia, Chile, and Peru would withdraw their military forces to a point to be agreed upon behind their respective frontiers. There would be an agreement protecting the water rights of the three countries. An international monument to commemorate the establishment between the three countries would be erected on the Morro; and Chile and Peru would enter into general treaties of friendship and commerce.

Whether or not Chile would accept such a plan as has been outlined above it is impossible to say, but I have been induced to think by indications from the Chilean representatives in Washington that they might recommend it to their Government. I did not, of course, advise either Ambassador Velarde or Mr. Ellis that I had had any indications in this connection from the Chileans. The idea of “neutralization,” by which is meant creation of new and independent self-governing state, seems to be meeting with considerable opposition in Chile at present; there are also certain practical objections to it, for example, form of government, revenues, and meeting of Bolivian [Page 497] aspirations, as meeting of Bolivian aspirations by splitting the new state through grant of corridor to Bolivia seems impossible.

If you have any suggestions to make in this connection I should be glad to receive them, as well as any suggestions you may have to make on possible sale by Chile and Peru under joint agreement of all their rights in the disputed territory to Bolivia, also your ideas of compensation Bolivia should accord for the territory and outlet to seacoast. In stating your opinion on these two matters I particularly do not wish you to discuss them with anyone at the present time. I feel that you should be in a position to reflect the general opinion of President and the country without further inquiries or study being necessary.