Memorandum of Conversation, by the Under Secretary of State (Welles)

The Minister of Bolivia called this morning and read to me two communications which he had received from his Government. The communications which he was instructed to convey to me stated that the Government of Bolivia was greatly disturbed by the situation within the Chaco Conference; that it felt that, partly because of the constant political changes in Paraguay and partly because of the ineptitude of the President of the Conference, Dr. Saavedra Lamas, the Conference was headed for an imminent breakdown, and that if such a breakdown took place, Paraguay would immediately recommence military activities against Bolivia. The Minister was instructed to request the Government of the United States to take part in the creation of a bloc within the Chaco Conference, to be composed of the delegates of the United States, Chile, Brazil and Peru, for the purpose of working together as a unit and bringing pressure to bear upon the other members of the Conference so that a more speedy and satisfactory procedure would be resorted to.

In response to this request, I said that, as the Minister himself knew, the American delegate was on the closest and most cooperative terms with the Chilean, Brazilian, and Peruvian delegates and that he [Page 27]was working most harmoniously with them. At the same time, however, I said the United States delegate was working in perfect harmony with the Uruguayan delegate and was endeavoring to the best of his ability to work in similar harmony with the President of the Conference. I said that it seemed to me that the creation of any such bloc as this within the Conference would immediately create suspicion and friction which would result in a situation entirely unfavorable towards the speedy attainment of the objectives desired. I added that if any such move as this were undertaken, it would hardly remain unknown to the President of the Conference, with the great likelihood that when some impasse was reached the President of the Conference would throw all the blame for this situation upon the nations taking part in the creation of such a bloc with results that might well be fatal to the Conference as a whole. The Minister said that he entirely agreed with me and that he would advise his Government to that effect.

The Minister then went on to say that he was advised by his Government that some confidential formula had been worked out by some of the delegations to the Conference providing for the solution of the fundamental question when this is taken up by the Conference. The Minister said that his Government believed that this confidential formula failed to provide for Bolivia any outlet to the Paraguay River and that if this were the case, such a formula would be completely unacceptable to Bolivia. I told the Minister that I was unaware of any such formula and that I could not conceive that our delegate had participated in such conversations without advising the Department of State.

I further said to the Minister that it was my understanding that the Conference was now beginning to work more actively due to the arrival of the new Paraguayan delegates and to the return of Dr. Alvéstegui from Bolivia. I said that I could only hope that satisfactory progress could be made.

S[umner] W[elles]