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

No. 92

Sir: With reference to my despatch No. 26 of October 3, I have the honor to state that the negotiations of the Paraguayan and Bolivian [Page 320] delegations appointed in pursuance of the Gutierrez-Diaz León protocol appear to have reached an impasse. It is reported that the cause of the difficulties encountered by these delegations consists in the divergence of opinion on the subject of the status quo which the Department will remember was defined in the Pinilla-Soler protocol of 1907.53 The Paraguayan representatives desire to reach, first of all, some kind of a modus vivendi based upon this status quo after which the determination of the international boundary could be arrived at by direct negotiations. Should these fail, an arbitral tribunal would be appointed and the limits of the territory defined that would be submitted to its decision.

It is stated, however, that the Bolivians decline to consider at present any such status quo or modus vivendi, asserting that the delimitation of the international boundary must be first considered and not matters of relatively secondary importance. It is also reported that, according to the Bolivian viewpoint, the status quo of the Pinilla-Soler protocol had no bearing upon the boundary lines which, according to the terms of that protocol, were to be submitted to arbitration and which, the Bolivians allege, were altered by the Mujía-Ayala protocol of 1913.54 The Bolivian delegates also declare that the status quo had reference only to actual possessions and not to boundaries.

To the observation of the Paraguayan delegates that Bolivia has erected forts to the eastward of the line stipulated in the Pinilla-Soler protocol, their Bolivian confreres reply that Paraguay has also made important advances into the disputed territory.

It is alleged in this connection, however, that should the Paraguayan thesis be adopted, it would not mean that Bolivia would be compelled, for this reason, to evacuate the forts, as such evacuation would occur only in the event that the treaty or arbitral decision gave the territory to Paraguay. It would, however, be equivalent to a recognition by the Bolivians that their occupation of this country was merely de facto and not de jure.

During October and November the delegations have held a number of plenary sessions for the purpose of presenting various memoranda and counter memoranda setting forth their views with respect to the status quo. These memoranda are now being studied by a special committee appointed for this purpose. This committee is composed of the following persons:

The Bolivian Plenipotentiaries, Doctors José María Escalier and Daniel Sánchez Bustamante.

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The Paraguayan Plenipotentiaries, Doctors Eusebio Ayala, José P. Guggiari and Fulgencio R. Moreno, together with several technical advisers.

It will also examine the problems presented by the delimitation of the frontier and the possible establishment of an arbitral tribunal. For the time being, therefore, the plenary sessions of the delegations have been suspended.

It is stated that but slight hopes are entertained of solving the difficulty in question, although Dr. Ayala expressed himself in optimistic terms on the occasion of a recent visit to Asunción. Should the direct negotiations terminate in failure, the appointment of an arbitral tribunal, as provided in Article IV of the Gutierrez-Diaz León protocol, would appear to be the next step to be taken by both Governments.

I have [etc.]

Robert Woods Bliss