711.00 Statement July 16, 1937/196

The Costa Mean Secretary of State (Zúñiga Montúfar) to the American Chargé in Costa Rica (Collins)99

No. 381. B

Mr. Chargé d’Affaires: I had the honor to receive in due course the courteous communication of Your Honor, dated July 23 last, with which you were kind enough to send me a copy of the declarations contained in a telegram of the same date, of the Most Excellent Cordell Hull, Secretary of State of the great North American Union, so worthily represented by Your Honor.

At the same time, Your Honor requested an early opportunity to consider and discuss personally the important and far reaching telegraphic statement of the Most Excellent Mr. Hull.

In the interview that I had the honor of holding with you in respect thereto on July 30, in my office, it was highly gratifying to me to express orally the profound satisfaction that the declarations of the Most Excellent Secretary of State, Cordell Hull, had inspired in me, both personally and as Secretary of State, and my wholly favorable judgment in regard to each and all of them. I promised you, in full compliance with your manifest wishes, a written reply in the name of my Government, as soon as I should have considered the matter with the President of the Republic and obtained his concrete instructions, constitutionally indispensable, owing to the great importance of the matter, in order that the actions of this’ Department might be considered as duly endorsed by the Executive.

Having now obtained full instructions from the President of the Republic, and complying with them with great pleasure, I have the [Page 761] honor to address myself in the name of my Government, to the declarations of the Most Excellent Secretary of State, Cordell Hull:

Presenting and summing up the proposals and suggestions that he has received from various sources, in view of the delicate situation that various countries of the world confront, the Most Excellent Secretary of State, Cordell Hull, contemplates the state of tension and violence that, although it apparently involves only neighboring and near countries, is shown in the final analysis to extend to the whole world, since any regional situation that implies armed hostilities, or threats of such hostilities, is a situation of such nature that the rights and interests of all nations are or may be seriously affected. Serious hostilities cannot exist in any part of the world without affecting in some manner the interests, obligations and rights of the United States. By reason of all this, the Most Excellent Mr. Hull feels himself warranted in making, and considers himself duty bound to make, known, the attitude of his Government in regard to the international problems and conditions over which the United States feels deep concern. And occupying a superior plane in the contemplation and the envisioning of the highest interests of humanity, the Most Excellent Mr. Hull advocates the maintenance of peace; national and international self restraint for each of the nations; abstinence by all nations from the use of force in the pursuit of their policy, and from intervention in the internal affairs of other nations; adjustment of problems in international relations by process of peaceful negotiation and agreement; faithful observance of international agreements; maintenance of the principle of the sanctity of treaties, and their modification, when necessity arises, by orderly process brought to happy conclusion through full accommodation and mutual helpfulness; respect by all nations for the rights of others and fulfillment by all of them of established obligations; revitalizing and strengthening of international law; lowering or removal of excessive barriers in international trade; effective equality of commercial opportunity, and application of the principle of equality of treatment; limitation and reduction of armaments; international cooperation by peaceful and practicable means in support of all the principles enunciated.

The explicit, frank and lofty declarations of the Most Excellent Mr. Hull, transmitted to all the Latin nations of the American Continent, constitute a new and serious invitation from the Government of the United States of America for the practical adoption of all the means that, in the science of contemporary international law, are necessary to prevent armed conflicts, to curb the use of force, and to preserve balance, harmony and the reconciliation of interests in the relationship of the nations.

[Page 762]

In the early part of the last century, when the greatness and authority that, in a prodigious miracle of history, the United States has achieved, began to shape themselves, and make themselves felt through definite positions taken in defense of the rights’ of America in the international politics of the Old World, the illustrious Minister for Foreign Affairs of Great Britain, George Canning, uttered his famous saying recently recalled to the memory of America by the thinker Nicholas Murray Butler, that the New World had been created to restore the balance of the Old World. In the light of history, in a century and a half, these words have assumed a prophetic significance, in view of the force of the thought, of the will and of the action that have developed American international law, impelled mainly in its beginnings, and its evolution by the highest intellects and the strongest hearts that have directed and guided the destinies of the United States in the course of its international relations with the other nations of this Continent and with the powers of the Old World.

John Quincy Adams, in the memorable time of President Monroe, was the precursor of the New American International Law; and, since, there have succeeded him as outstanding influences, by reason of the force of their intellects and of the steely power of their will, Henry Clay, James G. Blaine and Elihu Root, who have been the true apostles of the basic principles of the relationship of the American nations. And in the present century of world unbalance have arisen for the good of the peoples of America and for the balancing of the Old World, the illustrious President of the United States, the Most Excellent Franklin D. Roosevelt, and his no less illustrious Secretary of State the Most Excellent Cordell Hull, who, confronted by the distinct aspect of current events, initiate a new international policy, consecrated by the denomination of “good neighbor” policy; and are prosecuting energetically the work of conciliation, of peace and harmony, proclaiming the ideal of American interdependence, laying down the principles for its direction, and indicating the means, and bringing about the opportunities, for its realization.

Following the Seventh International Conference of American States, held at Montevideo in December 1933, for the consecration of the new American agreements and the confirmation of the “good neighbor” policy, at which the spirit of President Roosevelt and Secretary Hull made itself so felt, there took place last year at Buenos Aires the Inter-American Conference for the Maintenance of Peace, convoked in his communication of January 30, 1936, by the Most Excellent President Roosevelt, and seconded by the Most Excellent Secretary Hull. Both American statesmen gave the conference [Page 763] prestige and strength by their presence, and vitality by the force of their thought and their word, contributing effectively to the formation and approval of the international juridical bodies at that time agreed to by all the American nations, for the maintenance, guaranteeing and reestablishment of peace; to coordinate, amplify and assure the fulfillment of existing treaties; to establish the basic principles of non-intervention and of the rights of small nations. This outstanding labor of the present Government of the United States has been of positive efficacy as an element of moral control for the harmonious relationship of the nations of America, and an edifying example for the nations of the Old World.

The recent declarations of the Most Excellent Secretary of State Hull constitute another strong impulsion given with the same high aims to the buttressing of the international principles proclaimed and accepted at the Inter-American Conference for the Maintenance of Peace.

All these principles are accepted with sentiments of the most profound satisfaction by my Government, for the ideological force with which they are invested, and as rules of intercourse for an international relationship of peace, of harmony, and of compenetration of interests between the nations, as well as for the support that they command before the world through being proclaimed by a nation like the United States, respected, and worthy of respect, for the component elements forming the whole of its institutions and for its effective power and its greatness in the world concert. If acceptance and due regard for these international principles are the best guaranty of a harmonious, peaceful and just relationship between the great powers of the world, they must be so with more force as the sole stay of the small nations which count for the integrity of all their attributes on the effective reign of Eight, on the real rule of Justice and on the empery of Equality among all nations.

The state of tension and of violence existing in a certain number of nations, which the Most Excellent Secretary Hull has so fittingly set forth as cause of deep concern to his Government, as well as the commercial conflict that likewise prevails as a dominant condition in an important part of the nations, indeed, all that which is to be looked upon in these times as a deviation of humanity in the course of its improvement and progress, appear to confirm in our day the theory of cyclical reactions in humanity during its historical process, which turn it periodically, by centrifugal force, counteragent of egoism, toward the conditions of the civilization and culture of its ancestral origins. But under the same theoretical law, these reactions have, necessarily and fortunately, their return to normality, through the propelling action of the centripetal force of the noble and altruistic [Page 764] sentiments of mankind, which conduce to fellowship, to harmony, to peace, through the channels worn by civilization and culture in the course of history. And in the present historical moment of the world the state of reaction that His Excellency Mr. Hull sets forth in his statement, affecting the rights, the obligations and the interests of all nations, has encountered its strong countermovement with its altruistic and humanitarian effort toward peace, fellowship and harmony, in the moral and material force of the United States, channeled by the vigorous and wise mentality of the two great statesmen who control their country’s destinies in its international life, the Most Excellent President Roosevelt and the Most Excellent Secretary of State Cordell Hull. And my Government considers that it is the fundamental duty of Costa Rica, as an integral part of the American Continent and as a member of the community of nations, to lend its frank and decided cooperation to this powerful initiating force which emanates from the United States, and to embrace unreservedly the principles that constitute its ideologic fundamentals and its practical measures for realization and fulfillment.

In the foregoing terms I have now answered Your Honor’s courteous note of July 23 last, as well as that relating to the same matter of August 5.

I take [etc.]

Tobías Zúñiga Montúfar
  1. Copy transmitted to the Department by the Chargé in his despatch No. 1458, August 10; received August 14.