The Bolivian Minister (Finot) to the Secretary of State


Mr. Secretary of State: The Government of Bolivia has been informed of the measures taken by the United States Government, under authorization from the Congress, to prohibit the sale of arms and ammunition intended for Bolivia and Paraguay. Without entering into consideration of a doctrinal order concerning the procedure adopted, which might form the subject of an interesting argument, the Bolivian Government considers that the measure adopted is useless to secure the cessation of the Chaco War, for as long as the territorial question itself is not settled by means of arbitration, a real pacification can not be reached.

With relation to Bolivia, my Government considers that the decision adopted by the American Government is in violation, in particular, of the Treaty of Friendship, Navigation and Commerce signed [Page 291]at La Paz on May 13, 1858, in effect between the two countries, which plainly provides that “(nor) shall any prohibitions be imposed on the importation or exportation of any articles, the produce or manufactures of the Republic of Bolivia or of the United States, which shall not equally extend to all other nations.” This means that while the United States Government permits any nation to supply itself with arms and ammunition within its territory, it can not prohibit Bolivia from doing the same, especially if she enjoys, moreover, the benefits of the most favored nation, in accordance with the same treaty. The measure adopted, applying equally to the two belligerents in the Chaco, is unjust as far as it concerns Bolivia, for Paraguay enjoys the benefits of the international waterway which enables her to receive war matériel directly, while Bolivia, which lacks that advantage, will be the only one to suffer from the rigors of the prohibition. Considering, therefore, that the measure ordered by the American Government thus turns out to be favorable to one of the contenders and unfavorable to the other, and that such could not have been the purpose contemplated in adopting it, the Government of Bolivia trusts that as soon as its injustice has been shown, it will be abolished.

If, in addition to the injustice that this measure means for Bolivia, it also proves to be true that the American Government is taking steps with other countries to secure its adoption, it is evident that the danger which it causes to Bolivia will be increased, leaving her unarmed, at the mercy of her adversary.

In bringing the preceding considerations to Your Excellency’s knowledge, by express instructions from my Government, I have the honor to repeat to you the assurances of my very high and distinguished esteem.

Enrique Finot