724.3415/1818: Telegram

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

47. This afternoon I had 2 hour’s conversation with the President who summoned the Minister of Justice to take part, Arbo not being in Asunción. Factors in the way of solution are the political situation and the unanimity of the Cabinet that the withdrawal the delegates should be complete and final. I went very thoroughly into all phases of the matter with them. In my opinion it is impossible to gain the withdrawal the note and the only possible expedient would be the temporary suspension as outlined in the first paragraph of my telegram No. 46, July 9, 6 p.m. My neutral colleagues agree unanimously in this opinion. But though without instructions they are supporting officially and strongly my representation. The President is calling a special cabinet meeting tomorrow morning at 8 o’clock to reconsider the matter. He thinks it may require another Cabinet meeting Tuesday before decision is reached.

I have seen no indication that Paraguay does not at heart desire a pact of non-aggression provided a satisfactory one, containing a proviso for an arbitration, can be arrived at. None of my colleagues believes that the present action has been taken from such a motive. There are many indications to the contrary. Lapse of time between alleged attack and publication thereof is accounted for in my telegram 41, July 6, 10 p.m. The War Department declares the fort in question to be 35 miles west of the Paraguay River, 6 days’ trip, without telegraph and telephone communications and to have been occupied by Paraguayan troops as an outpost during year past.

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There appears to be no doubt that a Paraguayan counterattack to retake the fortín was made and the city is filled with rumors of its seriousness, most of which are no doubt exaggerated.