The Chairman of the Commission of Neutrals (White) to the Paraguayan Delegate (Soler)

My Dear Mr. Soler : I received today your letter of the twenty-seventh in which you referred to a telephone conversation of July twenty-sixth in which you made certain observations to me regarding the statement that the pact of non-aggression of May sixth was drafted by the Delegates of Paraguay and Bolivia. This matter, you will recall, was also discussed by us in conversation in my office yesterday, at which time I went over with you the history of the negotiation of that pact, and also learned from you, for the first time, certain facts regarding the attitude of your Government in the matter. In order to avoid any possible misunderstanding in the future, I will set forth these statements herewith:

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At the sixth formal meeting of the two Delegations on April fifteenth, I suggested that we set aside the written exchanges between both Governments and enter at once into an oral discussion of the bases of a pact of non-aggression. Both Delegations said that they would consult their Governments on this point and, having been authorized to do so, the first meeting of this sort was held on April twenty-second.

At that meeting I suggested that we try then and there to draft the various articles of a pact of non-aggression. The opinion was expressed, however, that any proposal suggested by either of the parties would be objected to by the other and I was asked to draw up a draft. I stated that before doing so I should like to know the views of both Delegations regarding the scope of the pact and just what should be included therein. You will recall that you suggested the inclusion of a statement similar to the resolution drawn up at the Sixth International Conference of American States36 and this was agreed to by the Bolivian Delegation. Mr. Finot suggested an article bringing about the reestablishment of diplomatic relations and this was assented to by you and Mr. Vasconsellos. Mr. Finot likewise suggested reference to a settlement of the definitive question by arbitration and this was accepted by the Paraguayan Delegates. I asked for further suggestions but Mr. Vasconsellos thought it would be better if each Delegation would meet separately with me. I asked if we could not start drafting the text of the articles covering the matters which had already been proposed but this also was objected to by the Paraguayan Delegation. We consequently adjourned and during the next two weeks the two Delegations met practically daily with me.

In the course of these meetings with me, the Paraguayan Delegates stated that they wanted to put in a statement regarding the status-quo line of 1907. I discussed the matter with the Bolivian Delegates and found that they were opposed thereto. I then suggested to both Delegations, as a way out, that the pact of non-aggression should not alter the juridical position of either party in any manner whatsoever. The object of the non-aggression pact was to bring about an effective cessation of hostilities while the controversy was being settled by arbitration. It was not the object of the pact to change the juridical status of the parties so that they would either be benefited or prejudiced in submitting the matter to arbitration. Article IV of the pact was drawn up with this object in view.

I first drew up a rough draft of the pact in English. You and Mr. Vasconsellos said that you would like to see a Spanish text. To the [Page 43] best of my ability I translated what I had drawn up into Spanish. I discussed this informally with you. You stated that you wanted to take notes in order to communicate with your Government and you therefore, in my office, jotted down a summary of every article in the pact and you took down textually the whole of Article IV and the parts of Articles III and V which you thought pertinent in order to communicate with your Government. After doing so, you came back to see me on several occasions and asked for modifications in the wording itself. Each time you did so, I took note of what you desired and discussed the matter with the Delegation of Bolivia. Certain of the changes were conceded by them and others were not. The Bolivian Delegation, on the contrary, made counter proposals and these I discussed with you and when the two Delegations were then in agreement upon the text of the essential portions of the pact a meeting was held on May sixth, at which a copy was given to each member of both Delegations, and it was completely rewritten and revised by them. This revision had to do not only with corrections in the Spanish text but also with the subject matter. At no time during that meeting or in our subsequent discussions did you or Mr. Vasconsellos state that the project appeared to you absolutely inacceptable and your statement to that effect in your letter under acknowledgment is the first indication I have had in that regard.

After you had taken copious notes regarding the pact, had told me that you had communicated with your Government by cable, and had then taken part in the revision and drafting of the pact in its final form on May sixth without stating that you were opposed to the pact but merely saying that you were referring it to your Government for instructions, and in view of the fact that the Delegates of Paraguay had told me in previous meetings that if the wording of Article IV could be changed, as it was in effect changed, you would then be able to support the pact with your Government, I naturally understood that the Paraguayan Delegation was in favor of the pact, and that in view of your consultation with your Government by cable, and in the absence of any statement to the contrary, your Government also was in accord with the general principles thereof. I naturally thought there might be suggestions for changes of wording here and there but that in the main the basic principles were accepted.

It was only in our conversation in my office yesterday that I learned from you that your Government, when you consulted them by cable, had asked for the text of the agreement. In our conversations between April twenty-second and May sixth you had asked me for a copy of the draft pact and I had stated my readiness to call a meeting at any time to discuss the matter between the two Delegations and submit [Page 44] the text to both. You stated that you wanted a copy of the text before the meeting with the Bolivian Delegation. I told you that I would be willing to give you such a text but that I would of course immediately give a copy of the same text to the Delegation of Bolivia. You demurred at this but I stated quite frankly that I always had in the past and would continue to treat both Delegations on exactly the same basis and that if I gave you a copy I would give a copy also to the Bolivian Delegation. I read the pact through orally to both Delegations so that they could make any suggestions they wished and let both Delegations take any notes they desired. You took copious notes but the Bolivian Delegation did not, saying that they were content to wait until the text should be elaborated finally between the two Delegations.

In our meeting on the twenty-seventh instant you told me that when you cabled to your Government the summary of the pact and the wording of portions thereof and requested instructions regarding additions or deletions to the pact, while the negotiations were still in a formative informal stage, your Government replied that it would not send instructions until it had the full text of the pact. You stated that that was the reason why you had said that you were ready to meet with the Bolivian Delegation to draw up with them the final text of the pact to be submitted to both Governments.

The statement made by the Neutral Representatives that the pact of May sixth was drawn up by both Delegations is strictly in accordance with the truth. It was not known, until your explanation of July 27 was made, that you collaborated in the drafting merely to have a text on which your Government could base its instructions and, had the facts which you told me on July twenty-seventh been known earlier, the wording of the telegrams referring to this pact would have been changed in order to have avoided causing you any possible embarrassment. I have never referred to the pact as the White draft because I obviously did not want to be credited with work done by others who should have received the credit. I am in complete accord with the pact, however, and feel that it offers an honorable basis of a solution to both countries. If it would have avoided any embarrassment to either of the Delegations concerned, I would of course gladly have accepted full responsibility for the draft. Hereafter we will refer to the draft as the Pact drawn up on May sixth or the Pact of May 6, 1932.

Not having received your explanation as above set forth until July twenty-seventh, you can well imagine my surprise when I learned that there was opposition to the pact in Paraguay, as the only facts which I had certainly tended to indicate that the pact was agreeable [Page 45] not only to the Paraguayan Delegation but to the Paraguayan Government and also to the Bolivian Delegation.

In closing, it may be well to run over briefly the pact, which you now, to my intense surprise, say is absolutely inacceptable to you:

The preamble and Article I are taken from the Resolution of the Sixth International Conference of American States. This was suggested by you.

Article II deals with the renewal of diplomatic relations and this topic was assented to by you and Mr. Vasconsellos at the April twenty-second meeting.

Article III is an agreement of the parties to enter into a direct arrangement and, if that should not be possible, then to submit the solution of the Chaco controversy to arbitration. The subject matter of this article was proposed by Mr. Finot in the meeting of April twenty-second and agreed to by you and Mr. Vasconsellos. You took notes regarding the wording of the important sentences in this article and, at your suggestion, modifications therein were made which were accepted by you.

Article IV, as stated above, was put in to maintain unchanged and unaltered, without benefit or prejudice to either party, the existing juridical status of the fundamental controversy. You wrote down in my office the complete text of this article, apparently consulted your Government regarding it, and suggested modifications. The extreme modifications suggested by you, which were designed to reestablish the status quo line of 1907, and which the Bolivian Delegation felt would modify the juridical status of the matter to your advantage, were not accepted by them but certain modifications in phraseology were accepted as well as other counter proposals made by them. The wording finally used was that agreed upon by the two Delegations as maintaining unchanged, without benefit or prejudice to either party, the juridical status of both, so that this pact will not affect in any way their case to be submitted to arbitration.

Article V was drafted after consultation and agreement with both Delegations in order to make easier the fixing of responsibility for any future aggression in the Chaco. The last paragraph of this article, in addition to article IV, was designed to maintain unimpaired the juridical status of the parties in the Chaco.

Articles VI, VII, VIII and IX have to do with the preservation of peace in the Chaco and the investigation of any future conflicts or incidents. As there are at present no treaties or conventions in effect to this end between Paraguay and Bolivia, the Hague Conventions,37 [Page 46] the General Convention of Inter-American Conciliation,38 the General Treaty of Inter-American Arbitration,39 and the Treaty to avoid or prevent conflicts between the American States (the so-called Gondra Treaty),40 not having been ratified by both the parties in conflict, it was necessary to draw up some machinery for this purpose. These articles were drafted with that end in view and you will note that they are an adaptation of the so-called Gondra Treaty which has already been ratified by Paraguay.

Article X is the usual article regarding ratification.

I am glad to note your statement that the draft pact of May 6 offers a basis of discussion in coming conferences when I trust that it will be possible promptly to arrive at a text agreeable to both Governments.

I am [etc.]

Francis White
  1. Resolution of February 18, 1928, concerning aggression, Sixth International Conference of American States, Havana 1928, Final Act, p. 179.
  2. Of July 29, 1899, and October 18, 1907, Foreign Relations, 1899, p. 521 and ibid., 1907, pt. 2, p. 1181.
  3. Signed at Washington, January 5, 1929, Foreign Relations, 1929, vol. i, p. 653.
  4. Signed at Washington, January 5, 1929, ibid., p. 659.
  5. Signed at Santiago, May 3, 1923, ibid., 1923, vol. i, p. 308; see also ibid., 1928, vol. i, p. 644.