724.3415/4663: Telegram

The Chargé in Chile (Scotten) to the Secretary of State

31. Cruchaga11 requested me yesterday to telegraph the following memorandum prepared in the Foreign Office in order that the Department may be fully informed regarding the latest developments relating to the Chaco:

“The investigations recently conducted by Chile and Argentina originated in an initiative of Chile to find a basis for an arrangement between the parties, making possible the avoidance of the difficulty which would necessarily present itself in the meeting planned, we understood, for the 24th of February last. In effect, at the meeting of the Chaco Committee in Geneva on the 16th of January certain resolutions were adopted, some of which may be considered as sanctions against Paraguay. Chile expressed itself as opposed to the application of sanctions. Almost all the American nations belonging to the League of Nations expressed the same opinion. If the meeting [Page 21] of February 24th were held, it was logical to believe that the differing opinions of America and Europe with regard to sanctions would become evident. So as to avoid this, the Chilean Ministry of Foreign Relations negotiated for the postponement of this meeting and, at the same time, suggested to Argentina an investigation of the two parties for the purpose of seeking a reconciliation on the basis of the recommendations adopted by the League of Nations on November 24th, 1934, which Bolivia had accepted and Paraguay had observed in some of its provisions.

For this last investigation, the Government of Argentina sent to Asunción Sefior Podestá Costa, an official of the Chancery. The result of his mission was a draft setting forth the form in which Paraguay would accept the recommendations of the League.

In recognition of this project and accepting an Argentine suggestion, the Government of Chile sent Señor Nieto del Rio to La Paz to obtain consideration by Bolivia of that which Paraguay had accepted.

Meanwhile, in the negotiation for the postponement of the meeting of February 24th in Geneva, the conclusion had been reached that this meeting had not definitely been contemplated; in view of this the danger was no longer immediate.

But Paraguay, fearing—due to the interpretation of the recommendations of November 24 in the sense that the parties had a period of 3 months to accept it—that once this period was over, on February 24, the juridical situation of the belligerents would be altered due to the acceptance of the recommendations by Bolivia and their rejection by Paraguay, decided to announce its withdrawal from the League of Nations, as it did on the 23rd of February.

In view of this announcement the meeting, which was considered to be indefinitely postponed, was called anew by the Secretary General of the League of Nations. The danger foreseen by Chile reappeared, therefore, made more serious by the circumstance noted above. The 11th of May was set as the date for meeting.

Meanwhile, Nieto del Rio had gained Bolivia’s consent to consider the modifications of the recommendations which Paraguay had accepted. But Bolivia, in turn, as a means of guaranteeing the security of the parties, suggested the plan of simultaneously signing pacts in which Bolivia would promise Chile, Argentina, Brazil, and Peru not to recommence these hostilities, once they are terminated, and Paraguay in another pact would undertake similar obligations. Upon inquiry, Paraguay agreed to the plan in principle. Bolivia also accepted the investigation of the responsibility for the war.

A step of considerable importance had been taken in the reconciliation of the points of view of the parties.

With things at this stage, the meeting of the 11th of March took place in Geneva. As had been feared, the differing views of Europe and America became evident. The Committee extricated itself from this situation by postponing the resolution for the May Assembly in view of the investigations being carried on by Chile and Argentina, whose delegates made the following statement in Geneva:

‘Chile and Argentina, desiring to collaborate within the limits of the League of Nations for the reestablishment of peace, have investigated the reactions of the parties to a plan based on the recommendations of the League, which they have reason to believe will be successful. The Governments of Peru and Brazil know of these steps taken by Chile and Argentina and all negotiations shall be [Page 22] made by the four nations together. Chile and the Argentine adhere to the accepted plan of calling the Assembly for the 20th of May.’

Thus one of the reefs which might wreck pacific action of the type Chile believes valuable, was avoided.

The informal representations with Bolivia and Paraguay have continued slowly. Difficulties result from the fact that Bolivia does not which [wish?] to define which of the modifications suggested by Paraguay it does not accept unless Paraguay definitely accepts the plan for simultaneous pacts which it has accepted in principle. And Paraguay cannot make a definite statement until these pacts are formally proposed to it; it has answered the inquiries by accepting the principle; final acceptance—it says—will be given when the proposition is formally presented. Chile and Argentina, in their turn, will not formally propose anything without being assured of the cooperation of the limitrophe countries, in accordance with the agreement of the 6th of August, 1932;12 they also hope to count on the assistance of the Government of the United States to a great extent.

The Government of Chile is making an effort in La Paz to achieve the definition of the modifications which Bolivia accepts. In case it does not succeed within a short time, and in view of what has been gained towards a solution, it will permit itself to suggest that a formal proposition be made anyway on the part of the limitrophe nations and of the United States, if it is willing, the cooperation of the latter being necessary in the opinion of the Chilean Government.

Up to the present time, all action has been informal and has involved mere inquiry with the two parties. The recommendations of the League of Nations has been taken as a basis, the idea being to achieve a direct agreement between the two parties which, once established, would be communicated to the League of Nations by them. Chile believes that in this manner it can coordinate the policy of the countries which are members of the League of Nations with that of those who do not belong to the institution at Geneva.”

  1. Miguel Cruchaga Tocornal, Chilean Minister for Foreign Affairs.
  2. Foreign Relations, 1932, vol. v, p. 168.