The Secretary of State to the Bolivian Minister (Finot)

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note of June 1, 1934, submitting the observations of your Government on the Proclamation issued by the President of the United States on May 28, 1934, pursuant to the Joint Resolution of Congress of the same date, prohibiting the sale of arms and munitions of war in the United States to those countries now engaged in armed conflict in the Chaco.

With respect to the opinion expressed by your Government that the Proclamation of the President is in violation of the Treaty of Friendship, Navigation and Commerce signed at La Paz May 13, 1858, between Bolivia and the United States, I invite your attention to the fact [Page 292]that the Resolution prohibits the sale in the United States of arms and munitions of war to those countries now engaged in armed conflict in the Chaco, whereas the provisions of Article VI of the Treaty of May 13, 1858, relate to importation and exportation.

I have given the fullest and most careful consideration to your observation that the measures adopted, although they are applied equally to the two nations now at war, are unjust to Bolivia because, so you state, Paraguay “enjoys the benefits of the international waterway”, so that Bolivia, “which lacks that advantage”, will be the only belligerent to suffer from the prohibition to purchase arms and munitions of war in the United States.

Inasmuch as the sale in the United States of arms and munitions of war is prohibited in identical terms to the Governments of Bolivia and Paraguay and to persons, companies, or associations acting in the interests of either, I am unable to see that the “benefits of the international waterway”, which it is alleged Paraguay enjoys, can constitute an advantage to that nation inasmuch as the prohibition on sales of arms and munitions of war imposed by this Government is equally applicable to Paraguay as well as to Bolivia and consequently no arms or munitions of war sold in the United States can be obtained by Paraguay through the waterway referred to or by any other means of transportation.

I desire to take this opportunity of reminding you of the consistent efforts of the Government of the United States during the past years in which these tragic hostilities have continued, to further in every friendly way the peaceful settlement of this controversy. I should like further to remind you that this Government has invariably demonstrated complete impartiality as between the two parties to the controversy and has time and again demonstrated its real and sincere friendship to both the Republics of Bolivia and Paraguay, as well as its devotion to the cause of peace. May I further point out that the action to which you refer has been taken by this Government with the full knowledge that other governments have been contemplating similar action and that parallel action has been proposed in the League of Nations.

The Government of the United States, as you are well aware, has dedicated itself to the policy of the good neighbor. It would be in the highest degree inconsistent with that policy that arms and munitions of war manufactured in the United States should continue to be sold for the purpose of assisting in the destruction of the lives of the citizens of our two sister republics of Bolivia and Paraguay and in prolonging the warfare in the Chaco which has already resulted in such grave prejudice to the well-being and prosperity of those two republics.

Accept [etc.]

Cordell Hull