The Honduran Chargé (Cáceres) to the Secretary of State


His Excellency the Secretary of State: In compliance with special instructions of my Government, I have the honor to advise the enlightened Government of the United States of America, through Your Excellency’s worthy channel, of the facts and statements which I respectfully set forth below.

In Volume LXVI, No. 6 of the publication, The National Geographic Magazine for the month of December, 1934, and which is published by the National Geographic Society, Hubbard Memorial Hall, Washington, D. C., there was published, as a supplement, the map “Mexico, Central America and the West Indies”, on which the Islas del Cisne (Swan Islands) appear as a possession of the United States of America, to judge by the denomination by which they are mentioned in the said map: Swan Is. (U. S.).

The said Islas del Cisne, unless there is some omission, are situated at 17°24′ latitude north and 83°56′ longitude west of the Greenwich meridian, off the coast of Honduras in the Atlantic, and belong to the Honduran Archipelago of which the islands called Islas de la Bahia, la Isla Misteriosa, la Isla de los Bajos, las Islas Viciosas and others form a part.

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In connection with the publication of the said map, a copy of which I am taking the liberty of enclosing, this Legation pointed out under date of January 26 of this year, to Mr. Gilbert Grosvenor, the distinguished President of the National Geographic Society, that the said Islas del Cisne have been and are under the exclusive dominion of the Republic of Honduras, at the same time requesting him to be good enough to take measures to correct the erroneous cartographic indication on the map referred to, with respect to the traditional dominion of Honduras over the Islas del Cisne. In replying to the said note, the National Geographic Society was good enough to give the following explanation:

“In compiling the map of ‘Mexico, Central America and the West Indies’ we followed the nomenclature contained on page 245 of the Central American Pilot, Hydrographic Office, published by the Navy Department of the United States of America. This publication says: ‘Swan Islands. These islands are under the dominion of the United States. United Fruit Co. maintains a light-house which is visible for 20 miles, as well as a radio station operating under the call signal US.’”*

In view of the statement which I have transcribed permit me to place on record, in the name and in representation of my Government, that the said Swan Islands form part of the territory comprised under the sovereignty of Honduras. Honduras attained to independence as a Province of Central America, in the first place, and as a sovereign Republic subsequently, with the said Swan Islands, as with the other adjacent ones, included in the total area constituting her territory. Her titles of dominion and possession over the said Swan Islands, as over the other islands of the archipelago they form go back to the immemorial time when Spain discovered and took possession of said Islands.

Accordingly, carrying out special instructions from my Government, as I have stated, I take the liberty of submitting to the enlightened Government of Your Excellency, protecting Honduran rights of dominion and possession, and requesting that it be given due consideration, a respectful, but formal protest against the appearance of the Swan Islands so frequently mentioned above in No. 130 of the Central American Pilot, Hydrographic Office, published by the United States Navy Department, and on the map to which I refer, as belonging to the United States of America.

I am glad to avail myself [etc.]

Julián R. Cáceres
  1. Tr’s note: This letter has been translated from the Spanish translation thereof. The wording, therefore, is not the same as that of the original. [Footnote in the file translation.]