Memorandum by the Chairman of the Commission of Neutrals (White)

On Friday, June 16, the Neutral Commission met at my request and I told the Commission that since Soler had left Washington at the end of December Paraguay had not been represented before the Commission as Señor Bordenave, when he arrived as Minister, stated he had no instructions to deal with the Chaco matter. I pointed out that Mr. Finot had sailed on the tenth for Geneva to take up the matter there and said I thought, in view of the fact that neither Government was dealing with the Neutral Commission and as they were both members of the League and had elected to take the matter up in Geneva, that the most dignified thing for the Commission to do was to go out of existence. I explained that this suggestion was not a personal one of mine but that the matter had been considered by this Government and that was our feeling and I submitted it to them for their consideration.

There was some discussion of the matter, the Uruguayan Minister being very much opposed to the Commission being broken up, and the Colombian Minister expressed a personal view somewhat along the [Page 342] same line. Finally I was asked whether, as a way out, I could draw up a draft of a telegram for the consideration of the Commission which would merely suspend the Commission’s action while the League was considering the matter. I pointed out that while this latter course was preferable to continuing actively to function and thus perhaps crossing wires with the Committee in Geneva I still thought that it had the disadvantage that it did give a chance for either Bolivia or Paraguay to refuse any League proposal on the ground that the Neutral Commission had the matter in hand and hence try to put the blame on the Neutral Commission for any breakdown in the work in Geneva. However, I promised to try to draft a telegram along the lines they desired. There is attached hereto, marked A, the telegram I proposed to be sent by the Neutrals to Bolivia and Paraguay and, marked B, the telegram I proposed that the Commission send to the League of Nations.12

On the morning of Saturday, June 17, the Mexican Chargé, Señor Padilla Nervo, called on me and said that after the meeting of the sixteenth, he had telegraphed his Government regarding my suggestion and the points of view of the Uruguayan and Colombian Ministers, and that he had just received a telegram telling him to support decidedly the dissolution of the Commission, pointing out that the splendid good-will shown by the five Neutrals during the negotiations should be topped off by the spontaneous dissolution of the Commission as an unequivocal manifestation of its desire not to disturb the action taking place in Geneva. The instruction added that the Mexican attitude was in agreement with a prior statement made by the Mexican Government13 that it would be pleased to see the friendly mediation of the ABCP countries in the Chaco conflict and even the transfer of the seat of the conferences as the only desire of Mexico is that the conflict should be settled and the state of war terminated between these two brotherly countries.

The Chargé said that he wanted me to know of his instructions before the meeting scheduled for that day. I thanked him very much for advising me and it was decided that as soon as the meeting opened he would advise the Commission of his instructions and suggest therefore that we give further consideration to the dissolution of the Commission. I showed him the telegrams which I had drafted at the request of the Commission the day before and it was agreed that in view of the recent developments I would not present them to the Commission at this time. There is attached hereto, marked C,14 the proposed draft telegram to be sent by the Neutrals to Bolivia and Paraguay and, as D,14 the [Page 343] proposed telegram to the President of the League. I also attach, marked E,14a a press despatch given to me by the representative of the United Press of a message from Mexico dated June 17 giving the text of the instructions to the Mexican Chargé d’Affaires.

When the Commission met on the seventeenth, the Mexican Chargé, as agreed, made his statement. This immediately precipitated a long argument by the Uruguayan Minister who said that he thought that we should not disband because he anticipated that the League would fail and then Bolivia and Paraguay would come to us for a settlement. He said that he thought the result would be that Bolivia would withdraw from the League of Nations as Japan had done.15 I said that that, to me, seemed more of an argument why we should disband than that we should continue. If Bolivia does withdraw from the League or the League negotiations fail, we do not want to be in a position where they can say that it was the action of the Commission of Neutrals in keeping in the picture which had caused Bolivia to withdraw from the League or had caused the League action to fail. It was agreed that as the Mexican Government had definitely spoken in the matter we should adjourn while the other representatives on the Commission could communicate with their Governments. An adjournment was taken to Thursday, June 22, as the Uruguayan Minister would be out of town the early part of the week.

F[rancis] W[hite]
  1. Neither printed.
  2. See telegram No. 93, May 11, 5 p.m., from the Ambassador in Mexico, p. 321.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Not printed.
  5. Not reprinted.
  6. As of March 27, 1933; see vol. iii, pp. 205258.