724.3415/4762: Telegram

The Chargé in Brazil (Gordon) to the Secretary of State

91. My 88, April 11, 9 p.m. Secretary General of Foreign Office this afternoon (Foreign Minister will be in São Paulo till Monday) stated that his Government feels that the Brazilian answer left the door open although he agreed that this interpretation required some reading between the lines: the statement that Brazil regrets keenly not being able to participate in the present negotiations can be read as meaning that if the present conditions were changed and an “amende Honorable” were made by Argentina and Chile with respect to the proposed economic conference Brazil might reconsider the possibility of participating. Apparently some Foreign Office officials felt that Argentina and Chile would take this step while others felt that the narrow opening left by the Brazilian answer would not be availed of. The latter proved to be right for at luncheon today the Argentine Ambassador informed the former Secretary General of the Foreign Office that he had been instructed by his Government formally to notify the Brazilian Government that in view of its refusal to participate the Argentine Government would withdraw from the present mediation negotiations and that he would carry out that instruction. Later this afternoon the Secretary General and the Foreign Office Chaco expert, with whom I talked separately, were of the opinion that Argentina did not want these mediation negotiations to succumb [sic] as too much credit would go to Chile if they did (see your instruction No. 310 of April 1st,20 memorandum of conversation of March 26) and was glad to sabotage them at the first excuse. They both also felt that the Government of Paraguay, dominated by the military element, was opposed to this mediation and that as I have previously reported it was erroneous to say that the Paraguayan [Page 37] Government had ever definitely accepted the proposals upon which the present invitations from Argentina and Chile were based.

When I said that even if they were right concerning Argentina I did not see how that could explain the action of Chile in excluding Brazil from the proposed economic conference they offered no explanation.

The net impression I have gained is that the Brazilian Government is genuinely convinced that the present mediation negotiations rest upon such an uncertain and confused basis that they cannot succeed and it evidently disagrees with the view expressed in the first paragraph of the confidential section of your telegram 48, April 6, 3 p.m. that both of the belligerents appear to be more strongly desirous of obtaining peace than at any other moment during the past 3 years.

Over and above that the underlying distrust of Argentina—which I have reported to you as being clearly discernible in the Foreign Office—has been fanned into active resentment by the various events attendant upon the present Argentine-Chilean mediation efforts which include Brazil’s knowledge that as far back as 2 months ago her exclusion from the mediation conference was called to the attention of the Argentine Government. The continued failure to rectify that omission, the unauthorized joint declaration made to the League (see my 62, March 18, 6 p.m.) and finally the irregular form of the formal invitation with the same omission in both. The resentment engendered by these events seems clearly for the moment at least to be principally directed against Argentina. The Secretary General this afternoon stated that he felt Brazil’s answer had “punctured an abscess” as Brazil had made it clear that her independence of action was not to be impinged upon and I imagine that this represents the present majority view among responsible officials.

At all events this present state of mind is regrettable not only intrinsically and with respect to Chaco peace efforts but also on account of the very definite effect it may have upon President Vargas’s forthcoming visit to Buenos Aires.

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