724.3415/158

The Ambassador in Argentina (Bliss) to the Secretary of State

No. 26

Sir: With reference to the Embassy’s despatch No. 275 of April 29, 1927, I have the honor to inform the Department that in pursuance to the Protocol signed at Buenos Aires on April 22, by Dr. Alberto Gutierrez, the Bolivian Minister for Foreign Affairs, and Sr. Lisandro Diaz Leon, the Paraguayan Minister at La Paz, the International Conference which will attempt to determine the boundary between Paraguay and Bolivia held its first meeting on Thursday, September 29, at 4 o’clock, in one of the rooms of the Foreign Office.

The Paraguayan Commission is presided over by Dr. Eusebio Ayala, former Minister in Washington. The other members are: Señores José P. Guggiari, President of the Chamber of Deputies and leader of the Liberal Party; Francisco G. Chaves, leader of the Republican Party; Fulgencio R. Moreno and Manuel Dominguez. Captain Elias Ayala of the Paraguayan Navy and Sr. José Antonio Moreno are assisting in an advisory capacity, together with Dr. Pedro Saguier, Minister to Argentina.

The leader of the Bolivian Commission is Dr. José Maria Escalier. The other members are Dr. Daniel Sanchez Bustamante, a former Minister for Foreign Affairs and Public Instruction, who represented Bolivia in 1920 at the Assembly of the League of Nations, Sr. Ricardo Mujía and General Carlos Blanco Galindo. Colonel Oscar Mariaca Pando, Dr. Miguel Mercado Moreira and Sr. Julio Gutierrez are acting as advisers of the Commissioners, and Dr. Alberto Diez de Medina, Bolivian Minister to Argentina, is collaborating with the delegates.

The Argentine Government will be represented at the Conference by Dr. Isidro Ruiz Moreno, the Solicitor of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

Upon their arrival at the Foreign Office the delegates were received by Dr. Sagarna, the Minister for Foreign Affairs ad interim. After the exchange of credentials Dr. Sagarna, who presided over the first meeting, welcomed the commissioners in the name of President Alvear and explained that Argentina had extended its good offices in the [Page 319] desire that the long standing difficulty should be satisfactorily solved without injury to the sovereignty of either nation. Both delegations were then received by President Alvear, to whom they presented their respects.

Certain Paraguayan and Bolivian delegates have given interviews to the press, couched in vague but optimistic terms, alleging that their respective delegations are inspired by a spirit of justice and friendship. Dr. Mujía, of the Bolivian Delegation, however, is reported to have stated that his country must have an outlet on the Paraguay River, which should be not only of immense benefit to Bolivian commerce, but of great value to Paraguay. On the other hand, Dr. Guggiari, one of the Paraguayan representatives, has pointed out to La Nación that his country is much more vitally interested than Bolivia in the Northern Chaco and has substantiated its claims repeatedly during the last half century by military occupation, commercial concessions, etc. This interview has called forth a sharp reply from Dr. Escalier, who, in a letter to La Nación, expressed his surprise at Dr. Guggiari’s statements and asserted that the Bolivian delegates could also proclaim the incontestable rights of Bolivia to the Northern Chaco.

Among Argentine officials there seems to be slight hope of the Conference reaching a solution of this long outstanding controversy. In Paraguay, so I am informed by the diplomatic representative to Argentina from a neighboring country, who has just returned to Buenos Aires from a visit to Asunción, there is a pronounced feeling of pessimism on the outcome of the Conference, and public opinion is strongly adverse to making any concessions to Bolivia.

It will be remembered that Article 4 of the Protocol of April 22 provides for the formation of an arbitral tribunal should the present Conference fail to reach a definite agreement. In this connection press reports of apparently trustworthy character state that the Argentine Government would decline to accept a membership in any arbitral tribunal that might be formed in pursuance to this Article, and it has been confided to me by a high Government official that President Alvear would not consent to act as arbitrator.

I have [etc.]

Robert Woods Bliss