The American Delegate ( Braden ) to the Secretary of State

No. 198

Sir: I have the honor to transmit herewith copy of letter received from Major John A. Weeks, under date of June 17,27 in which he replies to certain questions contained in my June 2nd letter to him.

As previously reported, Major Weeks’ observations in the Chaco uniformly have proven correct and I have a high regard for his judgment, therefore, the attached letter is of interest in that it demonstrates the desirability for a prompt adjustment of the control of the Villa Montes–Boyuibe road (see sketch attached to despatch No. 19728).

That this will not be accomplished readily is shown by the fact that [Page 53] Dr. Stefanich already has refused to relinquish control of the road, also it may be recalled that the Peace Conference early in its deliberations suggested the creation of a neutral military police force within the zone comprehended by the lines of separation. This proposal was rejected categorically by President Ayala29 and Dr. Zubizarreta.30 So far as we can determine the new Paraguayan régime will no less positively refuse such a measure. Discussions on this topic will be initiated with the Paraguayan Delegation in the near future and before the 2,400,000 peso repatriation payment has been delivered to them by the Conference.

Major Weeks’ letter confirms my several communications respecting the seriousness of the situation relating to the control of the Villa Montes–Boyuibe road and the excess of troops maintained in the Chaco by the ex-belligerents. Without in any degree minimizing the potential dangers involved it should be kept in mind that both governments repeatedly have expressed their faith in, respect for, and intention to abide by the provisions of the June 12th and January 21st Protocols. Furthermore, insofar as a renewal of hostilities is concerned, the peoples of Bolivia and Paraguay still retain vivid memories of the suffering and sacrifices of the Chaco War and I am disposed to believe that both governments would encounter difficulties were they to attempt a renewal of that war on a comparable scale of operations.

However, the occurrence of some more or less serious incident along the lines of separation is a definite possibility. For this reason I have for some time past insisted with my colleagues in the Conference that if possible the control of the Villa Montes–Boyuibe road be adjusted and also that we induce the Bolivian and Paraguayan governments substantially to reduce their effectives in the Chaco. While no official action by the Conference has been taken the delegates of Brazil and Chile, together with the undersigned, have made informal representations to the Bolivian and Paraguayan delegates and it may be assumed that the reduction in effectives mentioned in the postscript of Major Weeks’ letter has resulted from these efforts.

Several times Messrs. Elío and Calvo of the Bolivian delegation have given us to understand that they would accept the territorial division proposed by the Conference on October 15 (see despatch No. 75, October 15, 1935).31 That the Toro regime is not similarly inclined perhaps is indicated by Major Weeks’ remark that the Bolivians “might resort to force again if they do not receive a considerable [Page 54] part of the Chaco in the final award”. However, I believe Colonel Toro and his colleagues in the Junta could be dissuaded from such a course.

Respectfully yours,

Spruille Braden
  1. Not printed.
  2. Dated June 23, 1936; not printed.
  3. Eusebio Ayala, ex-President of Paraguay.
  4. Gerónimo Zubizarreta, former Paraguayan delegate.
  5. Not printed; see telegram No. 26, October 17, 1935, 2 p.m., to the Chargé in Bolivia, Foreign Relations, 1935, vol. iv, p. 161.