The American Delegate (Braden) to the Secretary of State

No. 587

Sir: I have the honor to inform you that the informal conversations reported in my despatch No. 574 of December 3, 1937 have continued between Ambassador Rodrigues Alves, Brazilian delegate, Ambassador Barreda Laos, Peruvian delegate, and myself on the one hand, and the Paraguayan delegation on the other.

On December 6 Dr. Zubizarreta, senior Paraguayan delegate, made us the following offer:

1). That the permanent frontier should coincide with the intermediary line. 2) That any territory in Paraguay’s possession, such as that in the neighborhood of the Villa Montes-Boyuibe road, which were relinquished should be compensated by an area to the north of [Page 44]the intermediary line, in which case they proposed the following frontier: Cururenda (opposite D’Orbigny)—up the middle of the Pilcomayo river to Palo Marcado—north through Carandaiti (leaving Carandaiti in Paraguayan possession) to Santa Fé on the Parapiti river—following the course of this river to its intersection with latitude 19º 10 S.—a straight line to San Juan—south following the course of the Otuquis and Rio Negro rivers until their junction with the Paraguay river. (In the course of this meeting Dr. Zubizarreta read to us his confidential instructions issued by President Ayala in June, 1935 which assert the intermediary line is the minimum acceptable to Paraguay and the maximum line beginning at Yaurá (Brazil)—south to the Pilcomayo—Pilcomayo to D’Orbigny-Juntas del Pilar—headwaters of the Pilcomayo in the Chiriguanos mountains—headwaters of the Parapiti—following the Parapiti to the Izozog marshes).

Dr. Rodrigues Alves, Dr. Barreda Laos and I declared the above offer to be totally inacceptable even as a starting point and we insisted that the intermediary line be the maximum of Paraguayan aspirations and a frontier on the Parapiti to be unthinkable. (Bolivia would prefer another war to such a condition). Also we refused to improve upon the Esteros line proposed by us (See paragraph 2, page 3 of my despatch No. 574).

Dr. Zubizarreta said that he had exceeded his instructions by making the offer described in paragraph 2 of this despatch and, to break the deadlock, suggested that Dr. Cardozo, junior Paraguayan delegate, should go to Asunción, discuss the matter with the President of Paraguay and the Minister for Foreign Affairs, and bring back specific and full instructions. By arrangement with the Argentine government, Dr. Cardozo will be allowed to go through the yellow fever quarantine on Paraguayan ports. He leaves for Asunción today.

Dr. Ramírez, former Paraguayan delegate, also returns to Asunción today to present a detailed report of his work here. He claims to have documents signed, or at least initialed, by Dr. Carlos Macedo Soares, former Brazilian Minister for Foreign Affairs, showing that during December, 1936 the Conference agreed to a frontier along the Parapiti river for Paraguay. I doubt the existence of such evidence, but even if true it proves nothing beyond a lapsus memoria on Dr. Macedo’s part. In order, however, that Dr. Cardozo might be fully informed and be in a position to disabuse his Government of any such aspirations, I have read to him the pertinent portions of my despatch #353 of January 14, 1937,31 describing the discussions of the Committee of Three with Dr. Stefanich.

As stated in item (2) page 3 of my despatch #540 of October 21, 1937,31 the Paraguayan delegation’s instructions in October were not to negotiate on the fundamental question; also their intransigence [Page 45]was augmented by the false hopes given them by Dr. Saavedra Lamas. Nevertheless, some progress has been made since Dr. Zubizarreta, during the last two weeks, has at least discussed a final settlement with us and has made the above described offer for a permanent frontier.

This morning, in a final talk with him, I frankly warned Dr. Cardozo that if Paraguay would escape responsibility for the breakdown of the Conference, he must return from Asuncíon with a much better proposition than that offer. He argued that Paraguay juridically was entitled to stay on the intermediary line. I told him the mediatory delegates unanimously disagreed with that thesis, but leaving the legalities for my colleagues to discuss, he and his government must look at the realities—not what Bolivia would get but what Paraguay would have in contrast with prewar conditions; by ceding some of the occupied territory they could obtain a permanent peace highly advantageous to them from every aspect. I went into the economic, military, logistic and other commonsense phases of the situation in detail and admonished him at parting that: (a) If Paraguay insists on the intermediary line as a permanent frontier, the Conference will fail and another war become inevitable; (b) If Paraguay as a starting point for the direct negotiations will ask for the intermediary line as the maximum boundary but with a withdrawal eastward of 15 to 20 kilometres in the vicinity of the Villa Montes-Boyuibe road, then I believed the parties could gradually be brought into closer approximation; and a permanent frontier could be negotiated or left for arbitration to be located somewhere between that maximum and the Fortín Esteros line proposed by the Brazilian and Peruvian delegates and myself. Dr. Cardozo promised to present faithfully my views to President Paiva and other authorities in Asuncion. He said he appreciated the responsibility which rested upon him and the Paraguayan government and was, personally, 90% plus in agreement with me. It remains to be seen whether the Paraguayan government and delegation will have the courage to face the facts and negotiate along the reasonable lines described on page 2 of my despatch #574. We should be able, fairly accurately, to size up the prospects shortly after Dr. Cardozo’s return from Asuncón, now scheduled for December 27.

Respectfully yours,

Spruille Braden
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