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

No. 245

Sir: I have the honor to refer to the Department’s instruction No. 296 of August 25, 1933,6 in further relation to the right of entry of aircraft under Article IV of the Habana Convention on Commercial Aviation.7 The Legation under date of September 9, 1933, informed the Guatemalan Government of the Department’s interpretation of Article IV as defined in the instruction under reference. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs by a note dated September 23, 1933, informed the Legation that the question had been referred to the competent authorities for consideration and the submission of data in the premises.

During the past few months I have reminded the Minister for Foreign Affairs8 that we have been making little or no progress in reaching an understanding concerning the interpretation of Article IV of the Convention. I saw him again this morning at the Ministry and took up the subject with him in more detail and with somewhat more insistence.

I pointed out once more that it is not the intention of the Government of the United States to insist upon any procedure which would render it difficult for the Government of Guatemala to maintain a check upon the entry of foreign aircraft, but that it would seem that a method of obviating such difficulty is embraced in the Legation’s note in this connection based on the Department’s instruction under reference in which it was stated that we would not be disposed to raise any question with respect to a requirement of Guatemala that in the case of civil aircraft entering Guatemala the aviator must obtain clearance from a Guatemalan consular officer provided, of course, that the aviator should not be required to obtain through the Consul a special authorization from the Government of Guatamala to enter Guatemalan territory. I told the Minister that this requirement would appear to [Page 500] give this Government, acting through its consular officers, the control it desires in order to maintain a check upon the entry of foreign aircraft coming from neighboring countries. The Minister appeared to agree with me on this point.

I judged from what the Minister told me that the Ministry of Fomento has not yet given up its contention that the Habana Convention may be interpreted as not applying to private aircraft, and I invited his attention again to the Department’s analysis of the Convention in support of the contrary view. I told him, moreover, that I had served on the Committee which drafted the Habana Convention and that I have a very definite and clear recollection that the discussions in the Committee clearly established the intention of the Convention as interpreted by the Department. The Minister did not appear to be in full accord with the opinion of the Ministry of Fomento.

Licenciado Skinner Klee told me that another matter that is worrying him somewhat in this connection is the desire of the Lineas Aereas Occidentales to obtain permission of this Government to carry passengers, mail and express into Guatemala. This subject was reported upon in the Weekly Economic Report of the Consulate General of June 25 of this year.9 It was pointed out in that report that the Lineas Occidentales are owned by the “Varney Speed Lines” which I understand to be an American Company now operating between the United States and Mexico. Licenciado Skinner Klee is opposed to an extension of this service into Guatemala in competition with the Pan American Airways. His position appears to be that under existing circumstances the most advantageous aerial service for Guatemala as well as for this entire region is to be had through protecting the Pan American Airways from competition for the time being. He seemed to think that the acceptance by this Government of the Department’s interpretation of Article IV of the Habana Convention might force this Government to grant entry to the Lineas Occidentales.

Finally, the Minister told me he would not delay longer in taking up the matter more vigorously and he held out the hope that it might be arranged along the lines suggested by the Department. I shall not fail to follow the question closely and to report further developments to the Department.

Respectfully yours,

Matthew E. Hanna
  1. Foreign Relations, 1933, vol. iv, p. 620.
  2. Ibid., 1928, vol. i, p. 585.
  3. Alfredo Skinner-Klee.
  4. Not found in Department files.