724.34119/81: Telegram

The Ambassador in Argentina ( Weddell ) to the Secretary of State

161. From Gibson.

In eighth session today neutrals of Conference heard presentation of Paraguayan and Bolivian point of view on fundamental territorial [Page 109] question successively. It was agreed that both presentations should be kept secret and that there should be no minutes.
Paraguayan chief delegate took the intransigent stand that the entire Chaco belongs to Paraguay which must insist on its title. He later stated under pressure that he would be prepared to consult his Government regarding any formula neutrals might suggest. He indicated however that Paraguay would under no conditions consider allowing Bolivia to have a port on the Paraguay River. Instead of presenting historical statement he distributed for background purposes a printed document submitted to the 15th assembly of the League of Nations in September, 1934.
Bolivian chief delegate made a lengthy oral statement of his country’s historical position. He then stated that Bolivia would be willing to consider a direct agreement based on the line of occupation prior to the outbreak of hostilities with the condition that the west bank of the Paraguay River north of a point 3 leagues north of Fort Olimpo should go to Bolivia, Paraguay being compensated by territorial concessions elsewhere. He insisted that Bolivia must have at least this access to the river, failing which he preferred to give up the idea of direct agreement and submit entire question to arbitration, reserving the right in this event to present Bolivia’s claim to the entire Chaco. He asserted that even if the arbitral award went against Bolivia it would be accepted whereas the Bolivian people would not acquiesce in giving up their claim to an outlet on the Paraguay River under a direct agreement.
The chairman took Elío rudely to task on the ground that under the terms of the Protocol of June 12 he had no right to say what his country would and would not accept in a direct agreement—this in spite of the fact that Elío had been most conciliatory in contrast with Zubizarreta.
In adjourning the meeting the chairman announced that there would be no further meetings to discuss this question for 2 weeks in order that we might have time to consider the statements that had been made. For all practical purposes we could continue the discussion tomorrow. Chairman added that there would be a meeting on August 2nd to hear the report of the Committee on Setting up the Tribunal on Responsibilities and that on August 9th a report would be expected from the Committee on Prisoners of War. In other words this is a continuation of his policy of keeping up an illusion of activity without coming to grips with the work. [Gibson.]