713.1311/121b: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Minister in Guatemala (Whitehouse)

44. With regard to the announced intention of President Jiménez of Costa Rica to denounce the 1923 Central American treaties, particularly the General Treaty of Peace and Amity, and to the suggestion made to you in confidence that, if the idea met with the Department’s approval, the Guatemalan Government would be glad to convoke a conference of the Central American Republics to discuss the treaties, the following is transmitted to you for your information and guidance:

The General Treaty of Peace and Amity of 1923, drawn up by the representatives of the Central American States and adopted by their Governments, expresses their aspiration to achieve political stability and discourage revolutionary movements in their countries, and provides various measures designed to assist in accomplishing these ends. The United States is of course not a party to the Treaty but in its desire to assist the Central American countries in realizing their objectives it has, at the request of those countries, supported the Treaty and adopted the principles thereof as its policy in dealing with new Governments in Central America. This Government has considered that the advantages derived by Central America from the Treaty have warranted it in thus making an exception to its traditional practice of recognition of new Governments. In the event of the abrogation of the 1923 Treaty the United States Government would of course resume its freedom of action and would henceforth judge each case upon its merits as it arose.

This Government has of course no desire to impose its views upon any of the Central American countries. It entertains only the friendliest of feelings for them and desires at all times their well-being and progress. It believes that, out of regard for this traditional friendship, it should not fail to point out that there can be no doubt in the minds of any impartial observer that the treaties of 190710 and 1923 have been beneficial to the people of Central America. In the years prior to the adoption of these treaties revolution within and warfare from without were almost the yearly portion of the countries of Central America. The great danger always was that revolution in one country would lead to armed intervention in support of one side or the other on the part of the neighboring countries, and that, as so frequently occurred, general warfare would ensue. As a result of the 1907 and 1923 treaties revolutions have decreased and not a single [Page 337]case of a general Central American war has occurred since 1907. The positive gain for Central America in the way of progress toward stability and orderly government has thus been indisputable. The present moment, moreover, when unrest and anxiety are widespread throughout the countries of the world, would make it seem especially incumbent upon the Central American Governments to proceed with caution and wisdom in a matter so profoundly affecting the permanent interests of their countries. This Government, therefore, sincerely hopes that before taking such a momentous decision as that of denouncing the Treaty of 1923 the Central American Governments will weigh most carefully the benefits derived by their countries from the period of comparative peace and stability resulting from the 1907 and 1923 treaties, with the risks and uncertainties of the situation which would come into being upon the abrogation of the latter treaty.

The decision to be taken in this matter is of course entirely one for the Central American Governments themselves to determine, whether it be to modify the treaty, to denounce it, or to continue it in effect. The responsibility as to the course to be pursued rests squarely upon the Governments of the Central American States. The United States Government, as the sincere friend of the Central American countries, earnestly trusts that in considering the matter the Governments will keep clearly before them the enduring interests of their peoples which are inevitably bound up with the maintenance of peace and stability.

With particular reference to the suggestion of the Guatemalan Government that it would be glad to convoke a conference of the Central American Republics to discuss the treaties, the Department while sincerely appreciating the courtesy of the Guatemalan Government in asking its views, feels that this is a matter which must necessarily be determined by the Guatemalan Government itself.

Please repeat this telegram to the Legations in Central America for their information and guidance, in case these questions should be discussed with them by officials of the Governments to which they are accredited. Caution them to regard the Guatemalan inquiry as strictly confidential.

  1. General treaty of peace and amity, Foreign Relations, 1907, pt. 2, p. 692.