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

No. 544

Sir: With reference to the Department’s instruction No. 78 of August 19 [29], 1934,2 in further relation to the interpretation of Article IV of the Habana Convention on Commercial Aviation,3 I have the honor to report on the progress made in this matter.

Subsequent to the receipt of the Department’s instruction just mentioned I had a number of conversations with the Minister for Foreign Affairs in which I endeavored to create a better understanding of the Department’s wishes and their bearing on this Government’s attitude. Finally, on November 23, 1934. I left a memorandum with the Minister for Foreign Affairs in which it was stated that:

“In taking up with the Government of Guatemala the matter of obtaining an interpretation of Article IV of the Habana Convention on Commercial Aviation, the Department of State had in mind the necessity of reaching an understanding with the Government of Guatemala with respect to rights of entry so far as pleasure or touring aircraft are concerned. The Department of State has no desire at this time to go into the question as to what may be the status of aircraft engaged in international commerce, and so far as it can see nothing has arisen to require consideration of this point. A discussion of commercial aircraft in this connection would only tend to confuse the issue and complicate the discussion concerning the right of entry of pleasure or tourist aircraft.

“The Department of State is pleased that the Government of Guatemala has agreed that it is not necessary for an aviator of a pleasure or tourist aircraft to request formal permission to enter Guatemalan territory under the terms of the Habana Convention. The Department however finds objectionable and believes unnecessary the stipulation [Page 223] that advance notice of each flight must be given by airmail ten days prior to making the flight and by radiogram five days prior to the date of the flight”.

I subsequently continued to make reference to the subject when the occasion seemed appropriate and finally was informed by the Minister for Foreign Affairs in a note dated January 25, 1935, that the Memorandum mentioned above had been referred to the Minister of Fomento for consideration. I am now transmitting herewith Foreign Office Note No. 1529 of 19th instant4 which transcribes the opinion of the General Bureau of Civil Aeronautics concerning the matter under discussion, which opinion bears the approval of the Minister of Fomento.

It will be noted that the General Bureau of Civil Aeronautics after some preliminary analysis of the Habana Convention on Commercial Aviation sets forth as its opinion that:

“… in order to facilitate international air traffic of pleasure or touring aircraft over the territory of the Republic and in order that the Government of Guatemala may cooperate with that of the United States of America, it can be agreed to exempt said aircraft from soliciting the prior respective permission, but leaving continually in force the obligation to give notice with the anticipation necessary for the information of the appropriate authorities. Said notice must contain: the type of airship, its individual marks and identification, the name of the pilot, and the approximate date of its arrival. In order that the Government may receive the notice with the greatest promptness and to avoid consequent annoyances, it might be agreed that said notice would be sent directly to the Ministry under your charge” (The Ministry of Fomento).

The General Bureau states further that:

“… the prior notice of the arrival of a pleasure or tourist aircraft in territory of the Republic does not imply a request for a permit … The aircraft under obligation to give notice does not thereby contract the obligation to await the reply, since, as has already been said, it is not a question of a permit but of a simple announcement of its arrival.”

The foregoing opinion has the approval, as stated above, of the Minister of Fomento and has been transmitted to the Legation without comment by the Minister for Foreign Affairs. It would seem that it may be accepted as the opinion of the Government of Guatemala. If I understand the matter correctly, the procedure proposed in the opinion is even more liberal than what we have been suggesting, and I hope it may be the basis for a complete agreement on the specific point at issue.

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In my conversations and communications on this matter, I have deemed it undesirable to make mention of the suggested “tourist or identification card” discussed on page 4 of the instruction under reply, but I will of course take up this point at an appropriate occasion if the Department still desires me to do so.

Respectfully yours,

Matthew E. Hanna