The Ambassador in Argentina ( Weddell ) to the Secretary of State
[Received 9:55 a.m.]
193. From Braden. My 169 August 20, midnight.
1. As contemplated in paragraph IV of my telegram under reference the Paraguayan delegates on the afternoon of September 11 delivered to the Peace Conference a long note with an extended annex thereto.45 This document presents a few reasonable arguments but for the [Page 63] most part it is captious, illogical, trivial, self contradictory and frequently discourteous. It alleges that “there is only one line or lines of separation which is the line of Hitos” and that the Conference under the protocols is only empowered to maintain control and vigilance over this line or “military frontier”. The conclusions of the note are as follows:
“In synthesis the Paraguayan delegation complying with its graceful [Government’s] instructions, expresses to the Conference:
- That Paraguay retains and preserves the positions its armies reached on the date of the termination of war, accepts no innovation nor alteration in the system of policing or control exercised until now on the line of separation fixed by the Neutral Military Commission. Consequently the Paraguayan police forces will continue exercising their own functions in the referred to region as they have done to date, subordinate solely to Paraguayan authorities.
- Paraguay does not recognize the existence of a neutral zone.
- Paraguay in principle does not accept the general instructions which the Peace Conference without its consent or knowledge issued to the military observers in the Chaco (my despatch 232 August 13).46
- Paraguay reserves integrally its rights of vigilance, control and security on the road called ‘international’ without admitting any change or innovation in its management (regimen), possession or dominion.
- Paraguay reiterates its respect for the protocols signed and its purpose to collaborate loyally with the Peace Conference in order to reach the pacific solution of the differences with Bolivia.
- Paraguay accepts that the Conference designate military observers who should watch the line of separation of the two armies fixed by the Neutral Military Commission as long as circumstances may require in order that there shall be no violation of the line and that the non-aggression pact be observed.
- Paraguay is ready to accredit immediately a consul in Bolivia and to accept the similar designation of a Bolivian consul in Asunción as the beginning of the reestablishment of relations between both countries until the respective legations are organized.”
- consists of a polite expression of thanks to the Conference and of hopes for a satisfactory solution.
2. As recited for months past in my many communications the Bolivians regard the freeing of the Villa Montes road from Paraguayan control as vital to them. The immediate danger resulting from the presentation of this note is that the Bolivian Government or the army command in the Chaco upon learning its substance might seize the highway and thus renew hostilities. In an attempt to avert this contingency we have cautioned Elío in general terms that Bolivia should not become excited by any untoward announcements or publications emanating from Asunción and that his country’s interests will best be served by a policy of tranquility, patience and continued confidence [Page 64] in the Conference. Also this evening I despatched the following telegram to Howard in Asunción.
“September 11, 2 p.m. From Braden. Paraguayan delegates afternoon September 11 presented note to the Conference rejecting the August 21 resolution regarding control and vigilance between the lines of separation. This rejection is drafted in a manner with which presumbaly Asunción Foreign Office is unacquainted.
“The President of the Peace Conference47 as soon as he received the said note urgently requested Dr. Ramírez in the name of all the mediatory delegations to request his Government under no circumstances to give publicity to the said document since to do so might have the gravest consequences. I consider its publication so dangerous that I would appreciate as an act of friendship for the Government of Paraguay that you inform Minister Stefanich tonight or at latest tomorrow morning of my anxiety, informing him that in my opinion the contents and language of the note of Señor Ramírez may create a crisis having unpredictable repercussions”.
3. Ramírez explains the presentation of the note at the time as being necessary because of efforts to discredit the Franco regime whose opponents have propagandized and widely distributed pamphlets in Paraguay accusing the present Government of treacherously sacrificing the national sovereignty and of having sold the territorial conquests of the war for the 2,400,000 pesos. I am disposed to believe that the uncertain Paraguayan political situation had a bearing on the presentation of the note but that Ramírez himself is largely to blame.
4. It is too early as yet to formulate any definite plan as to the best methods of procedure excepting for the steps described in paragraph 2 above to guard against impetuous action by Bolivia. However, we have several alternative plans under consideration.
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