Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State (Welles)
The Brazilian Ambassador called to see me this afternoon and read to me cables received by him today from his Foreign Minister.
The first message dealt with the representations made to the Government of Brazil by Bolivia that it was rumored throughout South America that Brazil was actively engaged in endeavoring to prevent the imposition of sanctions by the League upon Paraguay and, in general, that Brazil was moving to avoid any continuation of League activity on this continent. Bolivia had further stated that the United States had officially denied that this Government was participating in any such activities and requested that Brazil immediately take similar action. The Ambassador said that his Government considered this message from Bolivia highly impertinent and was not disposed to do more in reply than merely to state that facts must speak for themselves and that Brazil’s position during the past four years was so well known that the Brazilian Government had no comment to make concerning the Bolivian request. The Ambassador asked if we had in fact issued any public denial in the sense indicated by Bolivia.
I told the Ambassador that this Government had issued no denial whatever but I reminded him that in a conversation I had with him some days ago I told him that the Bolivian Minister had called to see me and had stated that rumors of this character involving both the United States and Brazil were current throughout South America and that I had stated to the Bolivian Minister, in continuation of what had once before during my absence from Washington been stated to him by the Secretary of State, that this Government maintained [Page 15] an attitude of complete impartiality between the two belligerents, that its recent reply8 to the League invitation whereby the United States offered to cooperate in so far as it found it feasible for it to do so in carrying out certain of the League’s recommendations made it perfectly evident that this Government was not opposing or blocking the League, and finally, that inasmuch as the question of sanctions was peculiarly a League matter, the United States as a non-member state had no opinions to offer with regard thereto. I read to the Ambassador the statement which Minister Finot had cabled to the Bolivian representative in Geneva9 and which had been read by the latter at the Chaco Committee meeting yesterday, and told the Ambassador that the statement was one made by the Bolivian Minister, couched in his own phraseology and based upon his conversation with me.
The Ambassador said that the position of his Government as he had already told me, was identical with that of the United States and that we were both in a position of expectation.
The second message received by the Ambassador from his Government was very much along the lines of the information contained in cable number 15, March 14, 7 p.m., from the American Chargé d’Affaires in Buenos Aires reporting his conversation with Dr. Saavedra Lamas. The Ambassador, however, had received the following statement of what the plan for modification of the League’s recommendations of November 24, 1934, was in detail and stated that this plan had been accepted by Paraguay (according to the Argentine Foreign Minister) and was acceptable to Bolivia with the exception of certain requests on the part of the latter Government for an extension of certain of the periods specified therein.
The details are as follows:
- The holding of an international conference of neutrals to be composed of delegates of Argentina, Chile, Peru, and Uruguay, to which would be invited Brazil and the United States.
- Cessation of hostilities in accordance with the terms of the League recommendations.
- Direct peace negotiations.
- The signing of an arbitral submission in the event that the two parties could not reach an agreement.
- If the conference should be unable to fix within the period of one month the terms of the submission to arbitration, it shall then establish the specific matters to be determined by arbitration.
- The two parties shall be enabled to make objections with regard to this latter decision but if the conference should insist upon its point of view the arbitral submission formulated by it shall have the same force as if it had been formulated by the Paraguayan and Bolivian plenipotentiaries and shall be submitted to the ratification of the two respective congresses.
- An investigation as to the responsibility for the war.
- The holding of a conference in which the neighboring states shall participate for the purpose of studying the question of transportation between Bolivia and Paraguay and the manner of stimulating commerce between them.
I expressed to the Ambassador my particular appreciation of his Government’s courtesy in giving us this detailed information which I said we had not as yet received, and that these reports would seem to be encouraging and to hold the prospect of some success and that after further study of the points made I would be glad to have a further conversation with him.
The Ambassador finally told me that his Government was informed by the Brazilian representative in Geneva that an attempt was being made by the Chaco Committee to agree upon the extension of an invitation to Brazil to be represented on the Chaco Committee and to formulate recommendations to the League Assembly. The Ambassador seemed to feel that this was an attempt to create difficulties between Brazil and the United States inasmuch as he said there had been no suggestion of inviting the United States. I told the Ambassador that I was completely without information on this latter point and I reminded him that when the League invitation had been extended last November to the United States and Brazil to appoint representatives to the Chaco Committee, both Governments had refused to do so. He said his Government had already instructed its representative in Geneva to refuse to make any comment upon the informal suggestion conveyed to him and not to permit himself to be drawn into any discussion of whether his Government would change the attitude it had adopted last November.