713.1311/217: Telegram

The Chargé in Guatemala (Lawton) to the Secretary of State

14. With reference to telegram from Minister at Managua number 30, January 26, 5 p.m., this morning I had a long talk with the Foreign Minister about the forthcoming Central American conference. He told me that since his return 3 days ago from Montevideo he had not had a chance to consult the President at length and to [Page 424]formulate definitely the Guatemalan viewpoint with respect to the conference. However, he said that he was in a position to give me the following information:

President Ubico and Skinner-Klee3 are firmly of the opinion that the conference should be held in Guatemala and they would like to have its inauguration on Washington’s Birthday, February 22. They prefer that the invitations should be extended by the Nicaraguan Government in the names of the Governments of Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Without suggesting a particular day they feel that the invitations should be extended sometime next week. They will be glad to include Panama in the conference, as well as in any treaties that may be drawn up, as long as the United States approves such participation and does not feel that the obligations assumed are in conflict with the special relationship existing between the United States and Panama. They also agree that the conference will be of such importance that the delegations should comprise at least three members each.

The Foreign Minister then said that he had not yet obtained the President’s approval of a draft agenda embodying the views of the Guatemalan Government but that he hoped to provide me with such a draft on Monday or Tuesday. However, he said that he plans to propose to the conference a number of measures tending towards a Central American union but not including a specific proposal for political federation. He feels the latter may develop gradually if the various preliminary measures are successful. These measures would include: Uniformity of laws, free trade throughout the Isthmus, a common Central American citizenship, a single diplomatic and consular service for the Isthmus, a unified educational system, and a common monetary system preferably based on the quetzal. Unlike President Ubico, he does not favor revision of the Treaty of Peace and Amity to include sanctions but he feels that the existing provision regarding non-recognition of revolutionary governments should be re-enacted in a new treaty to be subscribed to by all the Central American republics. He said that he hoped to persuade President Ubico to abandon his intention of insisting upon sanctions.

The Foreign Minister concluded by saying that he felt that Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua should agree beforehand in a general way on the conference agenda and that they should go ahead along the lines indicated above whether or not the other republics joined with them. He also indicated that one of the most important factors for the success of the conference would be the approval and encouragement [Page 425]of the State Department and he expressed a desire to know whether the suggested plans meet with the approval of the Department and also whether it would view sympathetically the issuance of an invitation to Panama.

Repeated to Central American missions and Panama.

  1. Alfredo Skinner-Klee, Guatemalan Minister for Foreign Affairs.