The Secretary of State to the Minister in Paraguay (Wheeler)

17. Your 41, July 6, 10 p.m. Paraguayan delegation in accordance with instructions presented note17 today withdrawing from the conference. The note attacks the attitude of the Bolivian Government and mentions Paraguayan protest in March against Bolivian concentration of forces at Villa Montes and protests in May against periodic flights of Bolivian airplanes over Paraguayan positions. It finally mentions the alleged incident of June 15.

The Paraguayan delegation will not make any statement to the press regarding the delivery of the note nor will the Department make any statement regarding its receipt. An endeavor was made to persuade Paraguayan delegation not to present the note but they felt their instructions were so categoric that they had no alternative. Mr. Soler, who brought in the note, agreed that the note was inexpedient, and is cabling his Government in the premises.

Please see Minister for Foreign Affairs and, if necessary, the President at once and point out (1) that opinion in the Americas is apt to feel, on account of the already well known reluctance on the part of Paraguay to agree to the pact of non-aggression, that this incident is being alleged as a motive for breaking up the conference when in reality Paraguay does not want to sign the pact of non-aggression. It must be borne in mind that Bolivia denied troop concentration and airplane flights over Paraguayan positions and that Paraguay presented no proofs; (2) it required 2 years of negotiation for Paraguay to persuade Bolivia to discuss the Chaco matter in Washington and now that this is being done and most encouraging progress made, it would seem contrary to Paraguay’s best interest to break off the negotiations now when there is apparently good hope for a successful conclusion; and (3) the situation in the Chaco will not be bettered but rather much aggravated by this action. In withdrawing from the conference, Paraguay loses access to neutral intermediaries for the solution of this incident and others which might arise as the result of breaking off the negotiations.

Please say to the Paraguayan authorities that there has apparently been no knowledge of this incident outside of Paraguay until today and that Paraguay’s action will naturally come as a great surprise to all who are following the negotiations closely. No complaint has been made to Bolivia nor has Bolivia been given an opportunity to [Page 23] explain its side of the case, to disauthorize the local commander if in effect the attack did take place, and thus to give satisfaction to Paraguay. It would seem therefore to the best interest of Paraguay not to present the note in question but rather to state the full particulars of the incident complained of, ask the neutrals to protest on Paraguay’s behalf to Bolivia, and to request explanations and satisfaction from the Bolivian Government.

As said above, no statements will be made in Washington either by the Department or the Paraguayan delegation regarding the presentation of the note so that it may be withdrawn without embarrassment.

Press despatches from Asunción already report regarding this incident. Department earnestly hopes that Paraguay will not make any statements which will put it in a position from which it can not withdraw and Department again renews the suggestions made in its No. 16 of July 7, noon.

  1. Not printed.