714.44A15/99

The Chargé in Guatemala ( Cabot ) to the Secretary of State

No. 1103

Sir: With reference to my despatch No. 1056 of November 18, 1939,31 I have the honor to enclose herewith two copies of a translation into English of the memorandum concerning the Belize question transmitted with the above mentioned despatch. These two copies were today delivered to me personally by the Chief of Protocol.

The Chief of Protocol informs me that the Foreign Office has as yet heard nothing directly from the British Legation with regard to the forthcoming British proposals respecting the Belize question. He took advantage of the opportunity to mention casually, but with obvious emphasis, the President’s intense interest in the Belize question, saying with a laugh that the President had given orders that he was not to be troubled during the next few days except about the Belize matter, “in which case you may call me even in my tomb”.

Respectfully yours,

John M. Cabot
[Enclosure]

The Guatemalan Ministry for Foreign Affairs to the Department of State

Memorandum

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Guatemala has the honor to refer to the courteous Memorandum of the Honorable Department of State of the United States, dated June 832 of the current year, in which, expressing its legitimate interest in the solution of the controversy existing between the Government of Guatemala and [Page 194] that of Great Britain relative to the territory of Belize, it states that it would view with profound satisfaction the initiation of practical negotiations for the solution of the question.

The Government of Guatemala has received with the greatest satisfaction this high initiative of the Government of the United States, in view of the fact that it brings the well founded hope that His British Majesty’s Government are to agree to and satisfy the unquestionable rights of Guatemala, always sustained by the latter and continually evaded by the Foreign Office and its Diplomatic Representatives. But, as the Memorandum of the Department of State refers definitely to “the frontier adjustment between Belize and Guatemala,”33 this Government has deemed it pertinent to study the question in a form which definitely and conclusively establishes the origin, circumstances and present state of the question. To afford the maximum veracity to Guatemala’s statement, preference has been given, without mentioning the voluminous Guatemalan proofs, solely and exclusively, in so far as possible, to genuine English or United States evidence. Guatemala’s right is so absolute, is so founded on truth and justice, that with official documents of the Governments of England and the United States, the whole subject may be reconstructed, with very ample details, giving at the same time the best proof of the Republic’s rights, brilliantly defined and defended by the Government of the United States itself. But, because documents other than those of the Government of Guatemala are discussed, the preparation of the book with which it desires to amplify this memorandum has been laborious, and, in view of the period of time which has elapsed without replying to the Memorandum of the Department of State, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs prefers to do so immediately, and will present at an opportune time the above mentioned book.

The controversy between Guatemala and Great Britain does not involve a boundary question only; it involves a territorial matter, as is proved hereinafter.

Lord Palmerston himself, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of Great Britain—in a note addressed on July 16, 1849, to the Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Nicaragua, alleging British rights to the possession of Mosquitia—explains the origin of the British occupation of Belize:

It appears from the 6th Article of the Treaty of 1783,34 that several [Page 195] English settlements having been formed and extended upon the Spanish Continent, on the pretence of cutting logwood or dyeing Wood; and Great Britain and Spain being desirous of preventing, as much as possible the causes of complaint and misunderstanding, to which this inter-mixture of Spanish and British Wood cutters gave rise, it was thought expedient that the Spanish Government should assign to British subjects for the purpose of wood cutting a separate and sufficiently extensive and convenient district of the Coast of America, and that in consideration of much [such?] Assignment, British Subjects should be restricted from forming settlements in any other part of the Spanish Territories in America, whether Continental or Insular: and that all British Subjects dispersed in those Spanish possessions, would within eighteen months after the exchange of the ratifications of the Treaty, retire within the District specially assigned for their occupation and use.

It seems however that the Treaty of 1783 did not sufficiently accomplish the purpose of preventing complaints and misunderstandings. It was found by Great Britain on the one hand, that the district of the coast of Honduras assigned to British Subjects by the 6th Article of the Treaty of 1783, was too limited in extent; and the enjoyment of it was too much narrowed by the restrictions contained in that Article. It was found by Spain on the other hand, that British Subjects still lingered in parts of the Spanish American Territories …

To put an end to these mutual inconveniences, it was agreed by the convention of 1786,35 that a larger extent of territory should be assigned to British Subjects on the coast of Honduras, according to new boundaries described in that convention, and it was also agreed that the enlarged territory, so granted should be occupied by British Subjects with a greater latitude of enjoyment than was allowed by the restrictions of the treaty of 1783; and in return, in order to relieve the Spanish Government from loss by smuggling the British Government again bound itself to recall British Subjects from the Spanish possessions in America; …

(William E. Manning: Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States, Washington, 1933, III, pages 371 and 372.)

The frontiers of the territory granted by the King of Spain to the British wood cutters, called Honduras by Lord Palmerston, in accordance with the custom of the wood cutters themselves, according to the terms of Article H of the Convention of London, July 14, 1786, were the following:

The English line, beginning from the Sea, shall take the centre of the River Sibun or Jabon, and continue up to the source of the said River; from thence it shall cross in a straight line the intermediate land, till it intersects the River Wallis; and by the centre of the same River, the said Line shall descend to the point where it will meet the Line already settled and marked out by the Commissaries of the 2 Crowns in 1783: which limits, following the continuation of the said Line, shall be observed as formerly stipulated by the Definitive Treaty. (Alder Burdon: Archives of British Honduras, London, 1931, I, 154.)

[Page 196]

According to Article VI of the Treaty of 1783, the boundary continues from the last point indicated by the Convention of ’86 by the Belize River,

opposite to a Lake or Inlet which runs into the land and forms an Isthmus, or Neck, with another similar Inlet, which comes from the side of Kio Nuevo, or New River; so that the line of separation shall pass straight across the said Isthmus, and meet another Lake formed by the water of Rio Nuevo, or New River, at its current. The said line shall continue with the course of Rio Nuevo, descending as far as opposite to a River, the source of which is marked in the Map, between Rio Nuevo and Rio Hondo; which River shall also serve as a common boundary as far as its junction with Rio Hondo, and from thence descending by Rio Hondo to the sea, as the whole is marked on the Map which the Plenipotentiaries of the 2 Crowns have thought proper to make use of, for ascertaining the points agreed upon, to the end that a good correspondence may reign between the 2 Nations, and that the English Workmen, Cutters, and Labourers may not trespass, from an uncertainty of the boundaries. (Ibid., I, 173 [137]/8.)

Great Britain complied with the Anglo-Spanish Pacts and had them strictly respected by her subjects, who maintained said respect until the time when, in 1798, and by virtue of the defeated attack of the Governor of Yucatan at the mouth of the Belize River—seat of His Britannic Majesty’s “settlement”,—the wood cutters claimed that they had conquered the territory, which they said they held “by right of conquest”. Sir John Alder Burdon, Governor of Belize, in 1931, in his “Historical Note” defines said right:

The inhabitants claimed that the Settlement on the Bay of Honduras was now British by right of conquest. This term may not be strictly accurate as a description of the event; but as it was used in 1882 by Lord Granville, Foreign Minister, in correspondence with the United States, it may be accepted as confirmed by British official authority. (Ibid., I, 29.)

Although the English began about 1825 to speculate with the legend of the “conquest” of 1798, in their treaty recognizing the independence of Mexico36 they agreed to revalidate, in Article XIV, the usufructuary clauses granted in 1786 by the King of Spain, within the same territorial demarcation: Relative to this Treaty, and in the memorable session of the United States Congress, Senator Clayton—who, as Plenipotentiary in his position as Secretary of State, signed the Clayton–Bulwer Pact in 1850,37—said in March, 1853, that Great Britain “gained nothing by the Treaty which Spain had not before granted to her; and as she sought only the grant of the useful domain, or [Page 197] merely the rights of an old settler”. (Appendix to the Congressional Globe, 32d. Congress, 3rd Session.) Thus established by such high authority the fact that subsequent to independence the status of Belize continued in accordance with that agreed upon in the Anglo-Spanish Pacts of 1783 and 1786, it is pertinent to say that when the opportunity was presented (1847) Guatemala, in an official document, protested the Mexican act of signing an agreement relative to Belize, because the latter belonged to Guatemalan jurisdiction. This will be proved farther on.

The inalienable right of Guatemala to her territory of Belize, granted in usufruct to the English by the King of Spain, was again made evident in the session of the Congress of the United States: during the discussion of the Clayton–Bulwer Treaty, Mr. Clayton said that as Secretary of State, he agreed with Mr. King, President of the Committee for Foreign Affairs, that:

We never could, and never would recognize any title to the eminent domain, as existing in Great Britain, in what was called British Honduras or Balize. We concurred exactly with the report of the honorable chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations, that all the title that Great Britain had in the territory called Balize, was the right of occupancy in the territory pointed out in the treaty of 1786 between Great Britain and Spain. (Ibid., p. 248, Second Column)

In 1853, after the signature of the Clayton–Bulwer Treaty, the Plenipotentiary himself of the United States in that pact, Mr. Clayton, maintained that England, usufructuary of Belize, had no title to sovereignty in that territory.

When Central America won her independence from Spain the Government of Great Britain tried to obtain, in exchange for recognition of the new state, the cession of the zone granted in the usufruct of 1786, enlarged toward the south as far as the Sibun River and to the west as far as the meridian of Garbutt’s Falls—this without mentioning other territorial acquisitions in Honduras and Nicaragua.

The Central American Government did not agree to the dismemberment of its territory, nor, subsequent to the dissolution of the Federal Pact, did the governments of the States concerned desire to do so. In so far as Guatemala is concerned, it was not until June 25, 1847, that the Treaty of Amity, Commerce and Navigation was agreed upon which, in accordance with the jurisprudence propounded by Mr. Canning, British Secretary of State, signified recognition of the Republic of Guatemala on the part of the Government of Great Britain. That pact was not ratified, but it did give the Government of Guatemala an opportunity to make, and the Government of Great Britain to accept, a definite reservation of the territorial rights of the Republic. The [Page 198] Minister for Foreign Affairs said in his note of July 8, 1847, and on the 19th the British Plenipotentiary replied:

Guatemala, July 8, 1847, Consul General and Plenipotentiary of H. B. M. in Central America, City.

Mr. Consul: Although in agreeing upon the Treaty of Amity, Commerce and Navigation, signed under date of June 25 last, between Your Honor as plenipotentiary of H. B. M’s. Government and the undersigned as Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Government of the Republic of Guatemala, it has not been believed that said treaty might affect in any way, or involve the rights of the Republic of Guatemala in the pending boundary question with the British Government, as far as the concessions in the territory of Belize are concerned; this is a point which should be clearly established, the more so because this becomes necessary as a consequence of the contents of Article 14 of the Treaty concluded between England and the Mexican Republic, in which it is given to understand or is supposed that the latter has rights in the territories of the concessions of Belize, which is not exact, and consequently, the Government of Guatemala never has been able to agree to that view, which also should not be passed over in silence when signing an act so solemn and public as is the treaty with England; so that in no case nor at any time can consent or acquiescence relative to that question be interpreted into it or perhaps deduced.

For this purpose, I address the present communication to Your Honor, by order of H. E. the President, in order to record expressly the understanding which we have reached and do reach to the effect that the treaty signed on June 25 in no way involves or affects the rights of the Republic of Guatemala in the boundary matter relative to the concessions in the territory of Belize, to which the treaty of 1783 and the convention of 1786 between H. Britannic M. and H. Catholic M. relate.

Hoping that Your Honor will be so good as to reply to me at your convenience acknowledging this information and stating that you are in agreement with these views, I have the honor to reiterate to you the expressions of courtesy and esteem with which I sign myself, respectfully yours, (s) J. Mariano Rodríguez.

Guatemala, 19 July, 1847. Sr. don José Mariano Rodríguez, etc., etc.

I have had the honour of receiving your Note of the 8th instant upon the boundary of this Republic on the side of Her Britannic Majesty’s Settlement in Honduras, which shall be submitted to Her Majesty’s Government.

Without instructions I can give no opinion on this subject. Nevertheless I may so far comply with your wish as to say that I conceive that the Treaty of Amity, Commerce and Navigation which we lately signed on the part of our respective Governments need not affect any arrangement which the Government of this Republic may desire to conclude at a future time with Great Britain respecting boundaries.

I have the honor, etc. (f) Fred. Chatfield.

And so the Government of Guatemala, invoking the Anglo-Spanish Pacts of 1783 and 1786, repudiated emphatically the British claims to that territory, and at the same time repudiated the supposition that, by [Page 199] virtue of the Anglo-Mexican Pact of 1826, it might appear that the Mexican Republic had some title to sovereignty over Belize. The British representative tacitly accepted that Guatemalan reservation, since he did nothing in the name of his Government, then or subsequently, relative to any British right to the aforesaid region. Certainly he said that the Treaty need not affect any arrangement which the (Government) of this Republic might desire to conclude at a future time with Great Britain respecting boundaries; but the patent fact was fully proved that the English could only invoke, while the matter was being adjusted between the Governments of Guatemala and Great Britain, usufructuary rights derived from the concession stipulated in the pacts of 1783 and 1786: on the other hand, the reference to boundaries made by Plenipotentiary Chatfield as a reply to the reservation of territorial rights by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Guatemala, in accordance with Anglo-Saxon jurisprudence, implied the title of the parties to the disputed region.

Indeed, it was without the Treaty of 1847 having been ratified, although the Guatemalan reservation was in full force—since the English Government did not answer it—that the Anglo-Guatemalan Treaty of Amity, Commerce and Navigation of February 20, 184938 was signed: the pact contains superabundant stipulations relative to maritime commerce, navigation, guarantees and prerogatives in favor of their respective nationals in the territories of the two parties, but neither Belize nor British Honduras are even mentioned in any article whatever of the sixteen articles of the pact, nor is any mention made of land commerce. The plenipotentiaries signed the pact as if the King of Spain had never granted any territory whatever under Guatemala’s jurisdiction.

This fact is of singular importance, since Great Britain had been trying to obtain the territorial cession in exchange for the recognition of Guatemala to such an extreme that the Plenipotentiary Zebadua was in London from 1825 to 1830 without securing reception in his official character as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of Central America: on December 30, 1835, the Government of Guatemala appealed to the Government of the United States, asking aid in face of the growing claims of the Government of Great Britain (Manning, op. cit., III, 87/9), and for this purpose the Central American Plenipotentiary, Colonel Juan Galindo, was negotiating in Washington for that purpose. (Ibid., III.) Colonel Galindo went to London, aided by a letter of recommendation from Mr. Forsyth, Secretary of State, to Mr. Aaron Vail, Chargé d’Affaires of the United States before the English Government (Ibid., VII, 254/5); but Her Majesty’s Government, to avoid taking into consideration Guatemala’s [Page 200] rights, refused to receive the Central American delegate, under the pretext that he was of Irish descent. (Ibid., III, 165.)

In 1833, the English Government appointed Mr. Frederick Chat-field as Consul and, by virtue of a consultation of the Foreign Office with the Colonial Office, he brought instructions to discuss the boundaries of Belize to the South on the Sarstoon River and that “the Central American Government should relinquish all claim to such rights of sovereignty over the territory comprised within the boundary of the Settlement as might be supposed to have accrued to them derivatively from Old Spain.” (Alder Burdon, op. cit., II, 372.) Mr. Chatfield failed in his attempt: on June 1, 1835, Colonel Galindo, Special Agent of Central America before the Government of the United States, informed the Secretary of State that:

In consequence of the grants of land made of that territory by the State of Guatemala to certain Central American citizens & a European colonization company, the authorities of Belize took upon themselves in November last to declare their limits to be the Hondo on the North, the Sarstoon on the South & on the West a line drawn parallel to the coast through Garbutt’s falls in the river Belize, thus exceeding the old grant by at least five fold. At this period the plenipotentiary of H. B. M. at San Salvador proposed the conclusion of a commercial treaty with his nation, but as he distinctly refused the insertion of an article similar to that in the Mexican treaty with Great Britain, limiting the settlers of Belize to their lawful boundaries, his proposal was of course declined. (Manning, op. cit., III, 88.)

The absolute absence of legitimate title to his claims to Belize obliged Mr. Chatfield to omit all reference to Belize in the treaty of recognition of the Central American State, sixteen years after having received instructions to adjust it.

What was the status of Belize or British Honduras when the Anglo-Guatemalan Treaty of 1849—ratified by Her Majesty the Queen of Great Britain on June 9 of the same year—was signed? Aside from the usufructuary concession of 1783 and 1786, none.

The English have talked a great deal about “occupation” of the territory comprised as far as the Sarstoon River; but that occupation was not effected except by acts of pillage at the mouths of the Guatemalan rivers. Colonel Galindo, representative of Guatemala in 1835, so explained to the Secretary of State:

I say too much in using the word “occupation”; the only point that is bona fide in the occupation of the British is the town of Belize, situated at the mouth of the river; & where, in contravention of the Treaty, there is a considerable commercial depot, a detachment of artillery & some black companies of infantry: no agriculture is pursued in the country & the mahogany cutters rove from one water course to another in search of trees: there are not three hundred white inhabitants [Page 201] in the whole settlement & its total population does not exceed five thousand: it is however to be remarked that the charibs, natives of our state of Honduras, who cooperated in the royalist insurrection of 1832, have emigrated to about the number of two thousand & have settled a few villages to the Southward of the Javon, within the usurped territory.

The census of December 1835 gave for Belize or British Honduras a total of 222 whites and 2,321 colored people, free negroes and slaves—in all, 2,543 (Alder Burdon, op. cit., II, 382.) Due to the lack of title, the Plenipotentiary of Great Britain could not make any territorial reservation whatever in the Anglo-Guatemalan pact of 1849, and the Government of Guatemala, why did they not do so? The Superintendent of Belize reported in April, 1835: “The effect of sending warships to Belize has been excellent” (Ibid., II, 376); Mr. Elijah Hise, Chargé d’Affaires of the United States, said in December, 1848, “English Men of War constantly hover on the coasts of the country,” and added “And I have not known or heard of one American Merchantman or Man of War being in any of the ports of Central America since I have been in the Country or its neighborhood.” (Manning, op. cit., III, 294.) Great Britain exercised economic and political domination in Guatemala—and by means of that threat, in view of the fact that it was impossible to execute her instructions relative to obtaining the territorial cession of Belize, she kept silent in this respect in the Treaty of recognition.

But such silence does not signify anything against Guatemala. It does not destroy the violation of the right of the weak; nor does it give it to the aggressor: Mr. Ephraim George Squier, Chargé d’Affaires of the United States in Guatemala, warned Mr. Frederick Chat-field, Chargé d’Affaires of Great Britain in Guatemala, on October 28, 1849: “There is sir, as between civilized nations, but one mode of acquiring territory, viz: by Treaty; and it has come to be understood that, the rights of conquest require to be thus sanctioned, in order to be regarded as permanent.” (Ibid., III, 492.) That reticence of Plenipotentiary Chatfield relative to boundaries in the Anglo-Guatemalan pact of 1849 signified nothing against Guatemala, because Great Britain had no title to the possession of the territory usufructed by virtue of the Treaties of 1783 and 1786, and if Guatemala were to consent to maintain it, her boundaries could only be those agreed upon in said pacts by the Kings of Spain and Great Britain: according to the jurisprudence fixed in article IV of the Treaty of Peace and Amity signed in 1814 by Great Britain and the United States (Treaties, Conventions, International Acts, Protocols and Agreements between, the United States of America and other Powers, Washington, 1910, I, 614/15) Anglo-Guatemalan commissioners should determine the legality of the respective claims, and, in case of difference, the reports of [Page 202] the two commissioners or of only one as the case might be, should be referred for the solution of the matter to a friendly government.

So clear was the right of Guatemala and the violent injustice of Great Britain, that they were superabundantly proved during the course of the controversy relative to Central American affairs, sustained between Washington and London which culminated in the Clayton–Bulwer Treaty (1850). When the moment arrived to make this treaty effective, England refused to honor her word relative to the evacuation of the points of the Central American Atlantic coast which she held. In a communication of July 26, 1856, Mr. William L. Marcy, Secretary of State, reviewed the entire questions:

We see, in the first place, that England can have no rights of possession or jurisdiction in Central America, except such as her treaties with Spain of 1786 and 1814 accord to her, or except such as she may have acquired by voluntary concession from some one of the Republics of Central America. Anything beyond that will be incipient conquest only, not yet consummated into full right, by treaty recognition.

We see in the second place, that all the matters in dispute between the United States and Great Britain are primarily questions of the sovereign rights of some one of the Republics of Central America. We cannot give to Great Britain, nor she take from us that which neither has to concede. Either of us may agree with the other not to claim anything in Central America, but neither can legitimate any claim of the other there. And if either of us having asserted claim there, is to relinquish the same under conditions, the ultimate decision of those conditions appertains solely to the interested Republic of Central America. We may separately, or in common, use our good offices with such Republic to influence its determination, but we cannot of ourselves make the determination. (Manning, op. cit., VII, 148.)

Notwithstanding such a definite statement—made by Mr. Marcy to Mr. George M. Dallas, Minister of the United States to Great Britain—and without any cognizance whatever of the Republic of Guatemala, three months later the Plenipotentiary of the United States, Mr. Dallas, signed the Convention of October 17, 1856, by virtue of which the Governments of the United States and Great Britain, in section 1 of II of the “separate articles” agreed:

That Her Britannic Majesty’s settlement called the Belize or British Honduras, on the shores of the Bay of Honduras, bounded on the North by the Mexican Province of Yucatan; and on the South by the River Sarstoon, was not and is not embraced in the treaty entered into between the Contracting Parties on the 12th day of April 1850;—and that the limits of the said Belize, on the West, as they existed on the said 19th of April 1850, shall, if possible, be settled and fixed by treaty between Her Britannic Majesty and the Republic of Guatemala”, within two years from the exchange of the ratifications of this instrument; which said boundaries and limits shall not at any time hereafter be extended. (Ibid., VIII, 691).

[Page 203]

And so Mr. Dallas, in agreeing with Great Britain in the name of the United States to the dismemberment of Guatemala, consummated what Mr. Marcy viewed as absolutely illegal and unjust for the weak Republic. Mr. Marcy set forth in his above mentioned note of July 26, 1856, to Mr. Dallas:

It is the indisputable fact that England possesses no other treaty rights at the Belize except the usufruct conceded by Spain, and which so late as the year 1826, the British Government deemed it important to have confirmed to England by the Mexican Republic, as the presumed sovereign, at that time, or the country in which the settlement of the Belize exists.

It is understood that Guatemala contests the claim of the Mexican Republic in this respect; and it may be that the precise limits of the two Republics on that side are undetermined. However that may be, it is certain that the appellation of Honduras commonly applied in England to the settlement of the Belize is a misnomer originating perhaps in local projects of aggrandizement.

By the correspondence exchanged between Sir Henry Bulwer and Mr. Clayton, the negotiators of the Convention of 1850, it was declared that, according to their understanding, the stipulations of non-occupation made by Great Britain, were not intended to apply to the Belize. Whatever weight this correspondence may have as a contemporaneous exposition of the Convention, it cannot in the judgment of the President, be held to operate as an enlargement either of the limits or the jurisdiction of the British settlement at the Belize.

At any rate, the Dallas-Clarendon Convention, if it could not “legitimate the English claim”, gave proof that the weak Republic of Guatemala had lost, for its defense against England, the only hope of maintaining its integrity: the support of the United States. The Congress of the United States approved without reservation the stipulation relative to the boundaries of Belize—and Great Britain constituted herself as absolute arbitrator to settle to her taste her territorial ambitions.

Abandoned by the Government of the United States, there was nothing else for Guatemala to do except submit to the demands of Great Britain: on April 30, 1859, she was obliged to sign the “Boundary” Convention with Belize: in accordance with the instructions given hi 1833 to Mr. Chatfield by the English Government, and in accordance with the Dallas-Clarendon Treaty, those “boundaries” were fixed as follows:

Beginning at the mouth of the River Sarstoon in the Bay of Honduras, and proceeding up the midchannel thereof to Gracias a Dios Falls; then turning to the right and continuing by a line drawn direct from Gracias a Dios Falls to Garbutt’s Falls on the River Belize, and from Garbutt’s Falls due north until it strikes the Mexican frontier.

It was a territorial cession and the Republic refused to grant it without obtaining compensation, even though it was a minimum. Therefore, although “in fact the instructions of Sir Charles Wyke, [Page 204] who negotiated the Treaty, expressly prohibited him from admitting into it any thing which might bear that construction” as the Secretary of State Lord Stanley affirmed to the Minister of Guatemala in his note of January 3, 1867 (White Book, English Edition, p. 292) Lennox Wyke, English Plenipotentiary, had to accept the compensatory clause imposed by Guatemala:

Article 7/. With the object of practically carrying out the views set forth in the Preamble of the present Convention for improving and perpetuating the friendly relations which at present so happily exist between the two High Contracting Parties, they mutually agree conjointly to use their best efforts by taking adequate means for establishing the easiest communication (either by means of a Cart road, or employing the rivers, or both united according to the opinion of the Surveying Engineers) between the fittest place on the Atlantic Coast near the Settlement of Belize and the capital of Guatemala; whereby the commerce of England on the one hand, and the material prosperity of the Republic on the other, cannot fail to be sensibly increased, at the same time that the limits of the two countries being now clearly defined, all further encroachments by either Party on the territory of the other will be effectually checked and prevented for the future. (White Book, English Edition, 105.)

But in no way was the act of territorial cession mentioned, and consequently neither was that of the compensation stipulated in the 7th Article: secretly and hurriedly the Plenipotentiaries of England and Guatemala made the agreement, in order to conceal in so far as possible the territorial cession and its compensation, since they flagrantly violated the Monroe Doctrine and the Clayton–Bulwer Convention—and the definite protest of the Legation of the United States, dated October 1, which appears on pages 135/140 of the White Book so proves. Why did Guatemala lend herself, to her own detriment, to the English maneuver, without invoking in her favor the powerful arguments presented by the Representative of the United States, Mr. Beverly L. Clarke? Because Lennox Wyke explained to the Government of Guatemala that, for the solution of the disputes pending between the United States and Great Britain, and as compensation for England’s concessions, the Government of the United States had agreed to England’s taking control of Belize: in the same note number 23 of July 26, 1856, whose above inserted paragraphs prove the absolute absence of English title to any part of Guatemalan territory, Mr. Marcy, Secretary of State, informed the Plenipotentiary of the United States in London, Mr. Dallas:

By the correspondence exchanged between Sir Henry Bulwer and Mr. Clayton, the negotiators of the Convention of 1850, it was declared that, according to their understanding the stipulations of non-occupation made by Great Britain, were not intended to apply to the Belize. Whatever weight this correspondence may have as a contemporaneous exposition of the Convention, it cannot in the judgment of the President, [Page 205] be held to operate as an enlargement either of the limits or the jurisdiction of the British settlement at the Belize.

As to the limits of that settlement on the South, it must be a question of either of the rights of Guatemala or of those of Honduras, while the question of the political tenure of that settlement would seem to belong to Guatemala, or to the Mexican Republic. Of course, in the spirit of the Treaty, the President is prepared to exert the influence of the United States with either of those Republics to assist in promoting the adjustment of those questions in a satisfactory manner.

In a commercial or political point of view it is not of very much moment to the United States, whether the British tenure at the Belize be enlarged or not; but it is in a military point of view, a thing of importance alike to the Central American States, to the Mexican Republic and to the United States.

Nevertheless if serious obstacles occur to obstruct the negotiation on other points either of interest or feeling, the President might consent that you should in the last resort, make concessions on this point, as the means of reconciling Great Britain to other acts which she may be disposed to regard as concessions to the United States.

In the presence of forces infinitely superior to those of Guatemala, there was left for the Government of the Republic only the road of agreeing to the consummated acts. It was human to seek, under such an adverse situation, the best road: the Dallas-Clarendon pact fixed for England “the southern boundary as far as the Sarstoon River;” but it left to the discretion of Great Britain settling the enlargement of the English boundary toward the west,—“the limits of the said Belize on the west, as they existed on the said 19th of April, 1850, shall, if possible, be settled and fixed by Treaty between Her Britannic Majesty and the Republic of Guatemala.” The sooner Guatemala agreed to the decision of Great Britain, the less expansion could the latter give to her western boundary. On his part, the attainment of legitimate title, the Treaty, for British possession of Belize, was urgent for the British Plenipotentiary, and so he consented to Article VII, the stipulation of which was prohibited him, according to the declaration of Lord Stanley transcribed above.

In their diplomatic correspondence, the Government of Great Britain have come to deny the eminently compensatory character of Article VII of the boundary Convention of 1859. Nevertheless, the Government of Guatemala can produce an official English explanation of that compensatory character. In his confidential note of June 29, 1862, the British Minister Mr. George W. Mathew stated to the Minister for Foreign Affairs:

The advantages, which Guatemala will derive from the road, by opening a vast district of rich country, are unquestionable: but there will not be a demand in this capital for one single additional bale of British goods, by their being brought by way of Izabal, instead of by the Cape or Manama, and S. José! We can only look therefore, to some future increase of the wealth of the population along the road, [Page 206] if it be kept in perfect repairs, and to their consequent demand and consumption for any commercial benefit.

The idea then, of indirect compensation, must be the main reason, that leads Great Britain to incur any expenditure in the matter: and in this view I am willing to concur, although, after some investigation in England, I cannot deny my impression that the “debateable land” was conquered from the Spaniards in war time, by the Belize Colonists, with the aid of Royal forces, and was never restored. (White Book, English Edition, p. 206).

This definition of Article VII of the Anglo-Guatemalan Convention of 1859, made by the English Minister precisely in a document directed to discuss the Republic’s rights attains special importance: “the idea then, of indirect compensation, must be the main reason, that leads Great Britain to incur any expenditure in the matter,” he said, and in that manner agree in an official English statement to the declarations of the Government of Guatemala relative to having concealed in so far as possible, in adjusting the delivery of Belize, the expression territorial cession and corresponding compensation. Seven months later, in his note of January 27, 1863, the English Minister Mr. Mathew ratified that statement, clarifying it in favor of Guatemala:

The uninhabited tract of land in dispute was, it is said, not only claimed by British Honduras and by Guatemala, but also by Mexico, and lastly by Spain; my predecessor, however, agreed with Your Excellency upon the insertion of the 7th article, as I apprehend, in a compensatory view, and, although his action had been unauthorized and unexpected by Her Majesty’s Government, they acquiesced in it. (Ibid., English Edition, 224.)

Such statements of the English Minister in Guatemala reiterate, in 1862 and 1863, the declaration of the English Secretary of State, Lord Russell, communicated by his representative in Guatemala at the time of the ratification of the pact of territorial cession of 1859: “Express to the Guatemalan Plenipotentiary as by the particular order of your Government, the high satisfaction which they have derived from the proof of friendship afforded to them by the Republic in the prompt and frank conclusion of that Convention,” Lord Russell instructed Mr. Hall, and finally:

You will also state that Her Majesty’s Government entirely approve of the article admitted into the convention by Mr. Wyke at the desire of the Guatemalan Government, whereby the two parties engaged to cooperate for the establishment of a line of communication, between the capital of the Republic and the coast of the Atlantic at or near Belice, and they would be glad to be made acquainted with the views of the Guatemalan Government, as to the best means of giving effect to that article. (Ibid., English Edition, 127.)

It is fully proved and with eminently Anglo-Saxon evidence that: [Page 207]

1.
In 1859 Great Britain had no title to the possession of Belize demarcated within exact and indelible limits by the Anglo-Spanish treaties of 1783 and 1786;
2.
Great Britain had not occupied nor could she allege any jurisdiction whatever beyond these frontiers;
3.
The Republic of Guatemala always maintained its sovereign rights and refused to sign an agreement relative to territorial cession: the Convention of 1859 was an obligatory consequence of the agreement of the Governments of Washington and London, to settle amicably the difficulties existing between them, which without even the cognizance of the Republic those Governments adjusted at the expense of the latter in the Convention of 1856, known as the Dallas-Clarendon;
4.
The Convention of April 30, 1859, undoubtedly, constitutes a territorial cession by Guatemala in favor of Great Britain;
5.
Article VII of that Convention is an eminently compensatory clause, and compliance with it obligatory on the part of Great Britain, unless the entire pact is invalidated, that is to say, the English occupation return to the simple category of usurpation of Guatemalan territory.

English occupation is mentioned above; and it is necessary to prove that there has been no such occupation; two years after the consummation of the territorial cession of Belize, the English Government ordered the taking of a census of the population of the territory, which on April 1, 1861, gave 25,000 persons, distributed as follows: Port of Belize, 5,067; towns of Hondo River, New River and Cerozal, 13,547; Stann Creek 1,113; Punta Gorda, 306. (Aldor Burdon, op. cit., III, 238) The omission of 5,602 inhabitants must refer to those scattered in temporary camps along the lower channel of the rivers, just as they did when in 1835 Colonel Galindo, Representative of Guatemala in Washington, informed the Secretary of State that the English were encroaching in Guatemalan territory. (Manning, op. cit., III, 88.)

Of the towns mentioned, Belize, Rio Hondo, New River and Cerozal are situated within the demarcation of the Anglo-Spanish pacts of 1783 and 1786: to the South of the Sibun are only Stann Creek and Punta Gorda, this latter, the most southern, being many minutes north of the mouth of the Sarstoon. The six towns which the English census of 1861 mentions are directly on the seashores: the interior of the country, even in 1939, is unexplored to such an extent that a modern map of Belize gives large areas in blank.

The White Book gives enough British documents to prove that the English Government, after obtaining the permission of the Government of the United States to acquire jurisdiction to Belize, needed title to sovereignty which, classified as a political possession, the Secretary of State Mr. Marcy attributed to the Republic of Guatemala but a few months prior to the signature of the Dallas-Clarendon Treaty. (Ibid., VII, 152). By means of the offer of indirect compensation (Mr. George W. Mathew, Minister of England, White Book, [Page 208] English Edition, 206,) Great Britain attained the desired title, the pact with Guatemala.

In order not to arouse suspicion in the United States, inasmuch as the Convention would violate the Monroe Doctrine and the Clayton–Bulwer Convention, Lennox Wyke secured the most vague wording of the compensatory article: and from the moment of the exchange of ratifications, the English Government began to establish quibbles which, taking into account the antecedents, beginning with the treatment accorded by Mr. Canning to the Plenipotentiary of Central America (1825) up to the controversy of 1859–1933, it is not unwarranted to consider as deliberate. In effect, Article 7 of the Convention of 1859 stipulates the construction of an easy communication “between the fittest place on the Atlantic Coast near the Settlement of Belize and the Capital of Guatemala,” that is to say, in Guatemalan territory near the Sarstoon River: in his letter of appreciation, Lord Russell asks details relative to the viewpoint of Guatemala as to “the establishment of a line of communication, between the Capital of the Republic and the Coast of the Atlantic at or near Belize,” that is to say, in accordance with British geographical nomenclature, at or near the port of Belize, capital of “British Honduras.”

It is not pertinent to enter into explanations or considerations of the delays, pretexts and even offensive statements of the English Government to leave unfulfilled their compensatory engagement of Article VII of the Convention of 1859; the White Book, a new copy of the English edition of which the Ministry for Foreign Affairs encloses for the Department of State, contains good evidence of such a pitiful controversy in which a great power, protected by a certain impunity, has humiliated and offended continually a weak nation which does not cease to demand justice before the universal conscience.

Great Britain repudiated the compensatory clause of the treaty of territorial cession of April 30, 1859; the latter, because of non-compliance with the principal clause, has been void since that time: the construction of the road, relative to which the English Minister Mr. Mathew said, because of the unquestionable advantages which it would bring to Guatemala, “the idea then of indirect compensation, must be the main reason that leads Great Britain to incur any expenditure in the matter” was the condition demanded by the Republic, undoubtedly as indispensable, and it was so accepted by Mr. Wyke in the name of his Government in a gentlemen’s pact. This is a matter of transparent character and it is unnecessary to resort to experts: Guatemala loyally delivered her territory of the present Belize—obligated by the immensely superior force of Great Britain and the acquiescence of her natural protector, the United States—the Republic granted that title, the boundary Convention which only Guatemala could grant, since “the regulation of the frontier of British Honduras was to be [Page 209] effected by negotiation with the Government of Guatemala” (Mr. Cass, Secretary of State, to Lord Napier, British Minister to the United States, November 8, 1858). (Manning, op. cit., VII, 195) But, as an elementary principle, in exchange for what she obtained England was obliged to execute a material work which would give compensation in favor of the nation obliged to cede.

Guatemala consented to her dismemberment, it must be repeated, under the imponderable weight of the Anglo-United States agreement, and the sacrifice which she accepted implied transcendency for the two great nations: “It is of no small consequence either to the United States or Great Britain, that these Central American controversies between the two countries should be forever closed,” Mr. Cass states in his note to Lord Napier mentioned in the preceding paragraph (Ibid., VII, 200) and Mr. Wyke surely so explained also to the Government of Guatemala.

Great Britain seemed to forget that the triumph of the English Government over the Government of the defenseless Republic of Guatemala had been attained in a diplomatic controversy with another great power, in face of which the honor of Great Britain obligated her to obtain the title indispensable to territorial sovereignty, which, as a result of that diplomatic controversy, she had to take from the Republic of Guatemala: the English Government, solemnly obligated to reach a settlement with that of Guatemala, perfidiously agreed to the compensatory clause demanded by the latter—and ceased to honor its engagement as soon as its ambition was satisfied.

But before defenseless Guatemala, and precisely because of the circumstances of the entire question, from its turbulent origin up to the arrangement with the Government of the United States and the Boundary Convention with Guatemala, is raised the shield of universal justice and, above time and injustice, the imprescriptible right of Guatemala is maintained undamaged.

Guatemala saw herself under the weight of overwhelming forces which deprived her of freedom of action to consent to her territorial dismemberment. It must be remembered what Great Britain was at the middle of the XIX Century and how imposing her material force was at that time. The rule of brute force was invincible and to violence should be added the cleverness of her diplomacy and the lack of scruples in taking control of the territories which she desired. Guatemala signed the pact of 1859 subject to the engagement made by Great Britain. For eighty years the victim has pleaded that the powerful empire comply with her word and therewith the solemn obligations which she contracted, and never has obtained more than false promises and hard words until the scornful attitude of Minister Birch reached its climax when he declared to the Government of Guatemala in a solemn note, that “it would serve no useful purpose to pursue the matter [Page 210] further and that they have, therefore, no option but to treat the present boundary of British Honduras … as constituting the correct boundary.”

England ignored her contractual engagements and her solemn obligations: broke the Convention of 1859 and depended upon her strength to reject the just claims of Guatemala. It was impossible for the Republic to continue in the attitude of passivity and patience. She considered that she could do nothing against the powerful empire, except accept the situation in which England had placed herself and resort to the same reasons invoked by her! If Great Britain ignored her obligations set forth in the Convention of 1859, she rendered that said international pact void; she had broken and nullified it by her own hand; the Convention had ceased to exist, by virtue of the juridical consequences which are deduced from non-compliance with bilateral obligations by one of the contracting parties. Now, Guatemala would no longer beg that England do her the favor of paying her what she owed; now, she will no longer ask for compliance with the Convention which England has ignored and broken; today, Guatemala demands of the powerful British Empire that matters return to the situation in which they were prior to the Convention of 1859, and, consequently, the territory of Belize must return to the sovereignty of Guatemala.

This firm resolution of the Government of Guatemala was expressed in an absolutely clear and explicit manner by the Minister for Foreign Affairs to the new British Minister Mr. Leche in an official conversation held after his reception by the President of the Republic.

Guatemala is determined to make herself heard in the world. She will resort to all the sources of justice; she will knock at the doors of all Foreign Offices; she will ask for moral backing and the support which the Governments of the States of America can give her; she will invoke American solidarity and the principles which protect the rights of this continent, proclaimed in the Conference of Buenos Aires and ratified in the Declaration of Lima in 1938; in short, she will leave unused no legitimate recourse, no reason which she does not invoke, nor support which she does not solicit, until she obtains justice, and therewith, the recovery of the territory ceded to Great Britain in return for the compensation or price which the latter should pay her.

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs, on making the juridical study of the situation created by England, has been surprised by the virtual unanimity of the doctrine sustained by internationalists of all times and of all nations which render homage to the principles of international right thereby affirming that the Convention of 1859 has ceased to exist. The bibliography which supports and backs the resolution adopted by Guatemala is abundant and of great weight. From Grotius and Vattel, Calvo and Riquelme, Fauchille and Foignet, [Page 211] Heffter and Fiore, Epitacio Pessoa and Ruiz Moreno, Bassett Moore and Bluntschili to Oppenheim and McNair, the latter, the most modern and learned English internationalists, all are in agreement with the principle of caducity which the Government of Guatemala maintains:

It must then be considered as a just motive to legalize suspension that the contracting party violate the treaty. It is in effect unquestionable that when one of the parties does not fulfill the obligations contracted, it places the other in the position of declaring itself freed from the obligation to comply with its (engagements). Hence, if the violation refer to the essence or to one of the more important points of the Treaty, the resolution thereof may be deduced therefrom. (Fiore, Treaty of International Public Right.)

What are the effects of a violation of treaty committed by one of the parties on the duration of the Treaty and its executive force? The two following proposals seem to be considered unquestionable and it is not necessary to show the exactitude by arguments: that is, first, the violation of the treaty does not free ipso facto the party, who is to blame, from the obligation to execute subsequently the engagements contracted by it in virtue of these dispositions, as neither can take advantage of its own mistake; second, the violation of a treaty does not free ipso facto and without express declaration on its part the other party, the party which is the victim, of the obligation contracted in virtue of the dispositions. The effect of a violation (of the kind which we are going to define) is only to give to the other party the right to put an end to the treaty in that which concerns its subsequent execution. If it does not make use of this faculty within a reasonable time, the right to exercise it disappears.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

In 1887, the Court of Claims of the United States declared in the case Hooper vs. United States that: a treaty in which the duration seems at first sight indefinite and which does not contain some provision relative to its termination, can be annulled by one of the parties under certain circumstances. By its nature, a treaty is a contract between nations. If the counter party does not comply, for example, or if some of the important provisions are violated by one of the parties, the other party has the right to declare the treaty terminated. The United States have sustained this thesis with regard to the Clayton–Bulwer Treaty. Mr. Frelinghuysen, who was Secretary of State at that time, wrote to Mr. Hall, Minister to Central America (July 19, 1884): “The United States have the right to declare lapsed the Clayton–Bulwer Treaty. The basis for this opinion has been fully proved, I believe, by the two following arguments. On the one hand, the counter party having not complied, the purpose of the treaty never having been realized, the United States nave not obtained the objects had in view by them when they concluded the treaty: on the other, Great Britain has violated in a persistent manner their engagements not to colonize the Central American coast. There are then clearly two reasons for annullment: noncompliance by the counter party and positive violation of the contract”. (Arnold D. McNair, La Terminaison et la Dissolution des Traites, Paris, 1929.)

[Page 212]

547. Violation of a treaty by one of the contracting States does not ipso facto cancel the treaty; but it is within the discretion of the other party to cancel it on this ground. There is indeed no unanimity among writers on International Law in regard to this point, since some make a distinction between essential and non-essential stipulations of the treaty, and maintain that only violation of essential stipulations creates a right for the other party to cancel the treaty. Others oppose this distinction, maintaining that it is not always possible to distinguish essential from non-essential stipulations, that the binding force of a treaty protects non-essential as well as essential stipulations, and that it is for the faithful party to consider for itself whether violation of a treaty, even in its least essential parts, justifies its cancellation. The case, however, is different, when a treaty expressly stipulates that it should not be considered broken merely by violation of one or another part of it. (L. Oppenheim, A Treatise—International Law, Vol. I, Peace, Fifth Ed.)

… in face of the declaration of Great Britain, in face of the acts which have already occurred, it (the Republic) can, in its turn, maintain that not only the supplementary convention of 1863 has expired, because of non-compliance by the other party, but also the treaty of 1859, and, in that case, formulate the consequent protest and the reservation of its rights to all of the territory or Belize: this action would create a situation the opposite of the present one; that is to say, although therewith Guatemala would not receive what she understands belongs to her; she would make disappear in agreement with Great Britain, taking into consideration the unilateral declaration of the latter, which now exists, which, according to Guatemala, gave origin to the right which Great Britain has over Belize.” (Ruiz Moreno, International Counsellor, Argentine Republic.) (Opinion requested in the case of Guatemala.)

Many other references could be made; but they would make the drafting on this memorandum long and tedious. Furthermore, the Government of the United States does not need technical illustrations, having many learned internationalists. As a simple reference for consultation, there are given at the end of this document the bibliographical references of the treatises studied by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Guatemala.

The White Book explains the means employed by Great Britain to leave unfulfilled her engagement; the Convention of ‘59 fixed the English obligation to construct the highway from the capital of the Republic to the Atlantic coast of the country, without any conditional provision relative to cost, since that means of communication, of unquestionable benefit for the country, was the condition for the territorial cession. Nevertheless, the English Government began alleging that the cost of £145,465, estimated by Engineer Wray, was excessive: the pathetic Anglo-United States discussion relative to huge world interests of the Caribbean came to result, once the point in controversy between the two great powers was eliminated, in the ridiculous haggling of a pound more or less between Great Britain [Page 213] and Guatemala for the satisfaction of the engagement—solemn inasmuch as it was set forth in a pact signed and ratified by the Government of Her Britannic Majesty—contracted by the latter in favor of Guatemala.

On August 5, 1863, the Republic had to sign the Convention of London, in accordance with which the British engagement was reduced to the payment of £50,000, in instalments of £10,000 based on the construction by the Government of Guatemala, for their account, of the aforesaid highway. The period for the exchange of ratifications was fixed at six months counted from the signature of the Treaty. Guatemala was involved in a war with her neighbors and, therefore, the exchange of ratifications could not be made during the period fixed. Great Britain alleged that the absence of the exchange during the period fixed for that purpose had caused the Convention of 1863 to lapse, and, although the latter was only supplementary to that of 1859, the English Government claimed that simultaneously they were exonerated from their compensatory engagement to which clause seven of the document of territorial cession refers, but, of course for London, the territorial acquisition which that compensation was to indemnify remained in full force.

With incredible ingenuity, the English statesmen thought that the nonratification of the secondary pact would leave ineffective the obligation sine qua non, the price for what was obtained by means of the principal pact. It is elementary reasoning that, when the clause of modification of any perfect international pact does not come into force, matters return to the former status, to be governed precisely in accordance with the treaty which did not come to be modified. This was the jurisprudence invoked by the Government of the United States when the Dallas-Clarendon Treaty was inapplicable due to the modifications by Congress relative to the proposed dismemberment of Honduras and Nicaragua. The Secretary of State, Mr. Cass, informed the British Minister Lord Napier in his note of November 8, 1858:

The attempts to adjust the Central American questions by means of a supplementary treaty having thus failed of success, and the subjects not being of a character, in the opinion of the United States, to admit of their reference to arbitration, the two Governments were thrown back upon their respective rights under the Clayton–Bulwer Treaty. (Bassett Moore, op. cit., III, 167/8.)

In this manner, the nonratification of the Convention of 1863 made indispensable integral compliance with that of 1859,—and Great Britain was obligated to honor her word relative to the compensatory clause or evacuate all the territory of the Anglo-Guatemalan Boundary Convention. Not because she was a great power could Great Britain conduct herself with respect to Guatemala in a form contrary to International [Page 214] Law: “Under the treaty of 1850, while it is binding, the United States have not the right to exercise dominion over or to colonize one foot of territory in Central America”, said Mr. Frelinghuysen, Secretary of State, in 1882 to Mr. Lowell, Minister to England: “Great Britain is under the same rigid restriction. And if Great Britain has violated and continues to violate that provision, the treaty is, of course, voidable at the pleasure of the United States”. To the arguments of Great Britain which, in the transaction with the United States, tried to follow the same conduct as with Guatemala—to take advanage of the favorable part of the pact and repudiate the engagement—the Secretary of State replied:

The treaty was voidable at the option of the United States. This, I think, has been demonstrated fully on two grounds. First, that the consideration of the treaty having failed, its object never having been accomplished, the United States did not receive that for which they covenanted; and second, that Great Britain has persistently violated her agreement not to colonize the Central American coast. (Ibid., III, 197.)

This was the opinion maintained by the Republic from the very moment when the English Government, abusing their privileged position, and once having obtained the desired object, repudiated compliance with the compensatory clause. In face of the impossibility of a direct understanding with the Government of London, the Government of Guatemala stated her rights and opinions before the Government of the United States and, as in 1835, left on record the energetic reservation of its rights: in a communication of December, 1872, the Minister of Guatemala stated to the Secretary of State:

Under such painful circumstances, the Government of the undersigned is obliged to disregard the Treaty of April, 1859 which they agreed to with Great Britain, because the latter nation has not fulfilled the obligations which were incumbent on it, since the clauses of a treaty are correlative, one with the other, and the rights and obligations which originate therein are mutual, Guatemala cannot recognize the substance of the agreement which she signed when the rights, which are therein stipulated, are denied her.

As a consequence of this abrogation of the Treaty, the recognition which Guatemala had made of Belize as British property, is ineffective, and the territory ceded should return to her possession …

The Government of Guatemala understood perfectly the circumstances then governing between the Governments of Great Britain and the United States, inasmuch as they refer to the interests debated relative to the possession of the interoceanic routes, and, therefore, in invoking, because of the lapse of the Boundary Treaty of 1859, the return to the former status of the question, the Guatemalan Plenipotentiary added that: [Page 215]

Great Britain should only conserve the rights which she formerly had in Belize, that is, those which she obtained by her Treaties with the Spanish Government, to cut and export timber, but without being able to erect fortifications or establish any kind of Government, or exercise any act of sovereignty in the country.

In this same letter, the Representative of Guatemala stated that the latter Government had decided to send “a special agent to state to the British Government that Guatemala cannot continue in the difficult situation in which she has been placed, and consent that Great Britain enjoy the advantages derived from the Treaty without complying with the obligations which it imposed on her, and on the other hand neither can she permit that that nation continue invading and absorbing the territory of the Republic and depriving her of extensive and fertile lands”. In a separate paragraph those activities will be explained.

The Government of Guatemala, said her Representative in another paragraph of that communication, “understands that Great Britain is not to desire to abandon the advantages which she acquired by the Treaty of 1859, and will ignore their demands while a powerful influence does not oblige her to respect the rights of Guatemala”.

The Envoy of Guatemala went to London, but, unfortunately “Without the powerful influence” which might convince the English Government that the abuse of force retards but does not destroy justice. Let us present the White Book of Guatemala. Lord Granville, English Secretary for State, declared on August 18, 1880 to the Guatemalan Plenipotentiary that “Her Majesty’s Government adhere to the views expressed in the note addressed to His Excellency señor don Juan de Francisco Martin by the Earl of Clarendon on November 15, 1869, and that they cannot admit that there is any ground for submitting the question to arbitration”. That is to say, the review of the reasonings of the powerful, which having mocked the good faith of the weak, felt itself protected by perfect impunity in unfair conduct in negotiations between nations or individuals. Lord Stanley had given the Minister of Guatemala, on August 29, 1866, the formula agreeable to Her Britannic Majesty’s Government:

This being the case, it becomes my duty to ask you whether, in the opinion of the Government of Guatemala it would not be better that the project of constructing this road should be abandoned by mutual consent between the two parties, between whom the engagements to construct it were entered into?

Should the Guatemalan Government be of this opinion therein and to end all further discussion on the subject; if on the other hand they take a different view, it will be for them to suggest a method of proceeding which shall give sufficient security to Her Majesty’s Government for the work being undertaken in an economical manner, for an equal share of the expense being borne by Guatemala, and for the commercial result being such as to justify the large outlay which in any case must be necessary.

[Page 216]

During the course of the entire controversy, the English statesmen persisted obstinately in such an ingenuous formula, which logically must be interpreted as follows: with the bait of the road, from which the Republic was to obtain “unquestionable advantages” England obtained title to dominion over Belize and, when the despoliation had been consummated, and in view of the fact that England refused to comply with her word, by mutual agreement the two parties were to abandon the payment of the compensation! Lord Stanley was clever when he revealed that the discussion would be terminated in this manner. But the Government of Guatemala, in the light of absolutely Anglo-Saxon logic, gave instructions to their Plenipotentiary, who, on April 5, 1884, made the following statement to Lord Granville:

The anomaly of this situation obliges my Government, before the country which has entrusted to it its destinies and in compliance with its own duties, to call the attention of Her Britannic Majesty’s Government to this and urge its solution. In fact: either the treaty of 1859 is in force or it has lapsed. If it is in force, nothing prevents the two Governments from proceeding with its execution, and in this case Your Excellency will recognize the advantage of interpreting Article 7 in its most practical sense. If the treaty has lapsed, matters shall return to their former status, and consequently, the two contracting parties will be released from the obligations which they then contracted. But what the Government of Guatemala cannot accept and does not accept, is that the consent favorable to Great Britain, granted by it in Article 1 of the Treaty of 1859 remains in force, so long as the compensatory articles are not executed.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Therefore, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Guatemala has instructed me, by order of the President, to present to Her Britannic Majesty’s Government, with the most respectful deference, but at the same time with the greatest clarity, the solemn protest which it makes against the recent de facto occupation on the part of Great Britain of an integral part of Guatemalan territory, declaring that while an absolute agreement on this point does not exist between the two countries, said occupation cannot prejudice Guatemala’s rights at any time.

Pirates and smugglers founded the British settlement of Belize, at the beginning of the XVII Century, and a source of wealth for the English was the smuggling of European merchandise sent to Central America and Mexico, and the pillaging of the wood cutters in Guatemalan territory.

While the report of Engineer Wray was on its way to London, the latter and the Guatemalan Engineer Cano Madrazo proceeded to fix the boundary posts and mark the frontier in accordance with the stipulation of the second article of the Convention of 1859. They fixed the posts at Gracias a Dios Falls on the River Sarstoon and at Gar-butt’s Falls on the Belize: when this was done, that is to say, British possession assured by means of the fixing of the two principal vertices [Page 217] of the western boundary “the British commissioner received orders from his Government to suspend on his part the demarcation of the boundaries between Belize and Guatemala, until he received new instructions” reads the Engineers’ report.

Great Britain was in possession of the Guatemalan territory, exactly as her caprice desired, and at the same time, without marking the land frontier, the Guatemalan forest was open to the plundering of the English wood cutters and a cloak for the smugglers, who, far from the fiscal authorities, were at liberty to introduce their illicit commerce by the frontier of Peten to the heart of the country.

It is not pertinent to go into explanations in this respect. Let it suffice to say that the Plenipotentiary of Great Britain before the Government of Guatemala, Mr. John Henry Stopford Birch, in his note of November 13, 1934, offered the Government of Guatemala, as a magnanimous concession, that “if the Guatemalan Government should remove the existing ban on the export of produce from Peten through British Honduras and should refrain in the future from imposing vexatious administrative barriers … His Majesty’s Government are prepared to cooperate as far as possible with the Guatemalan Government with a view to the suppression of contraband activities on the frontier”. These were the activities to which the Minister of Guatemala in his note of 1872 to the Secretary of State of the United States referred.

In the spirit of conciliation which is only understandable in the traditional foreign policy of all the Governments of Guatemala, the Republic sought, on all the occasions offered, the manner of seeing if it were possible to attain some settlement with the English Government within the spirit of the Convention of 1859, even though this had lapsed from the moment when Great Britain repudiated its compensatory clause.

And so, when on February 21, 1933 the British Minister asked if the Government of Guatemala “would be willing to appoint Guatemalan engineers to examine a demarcation of the frontier to be carried out unilaterally by British engineers”, the Secretary for Foreign Affairs replied on March 4, that, under instructions of the President of the Republic, he informed him that this Government desired to know before replying whether the Government of His Britannic Majesty, “in compliance with the Convention of April 30, 1859 would be prepared to put into due effect the bilateral stipulations contained in Article 7 of said Convention”.

On the 25th of the same month of March, the English representative stated in an “urgent” note, that “the question of Article VII of the Convention of 30th April 1859 will be carefully examined by His Majesty’s Government and that instructions upon the subject will be sent me in due course”. Naturally His Majesty’s Government presumed [Page 218] “that it is not the intention of Your Excellency’s Government to defer the conclusion of the arrangement proposed in my Note No. 14 of 21st ultimo during such time as the question of Article VII of the Boundary Convention is receiving consideration”, and, consequently, the English Representative requested “at the earliest possible moment Your Excellency’s reply to my note under reference in order that that reply may be regarded as placing on record the understanding arrived at with regard to the demarcation of the frontier between the Colony of British Honduras and the Republic of Guatemala by British engineers, such demarcation to be subsequently examined by Guatemalan engineers”. (Ibid., 372/3.) Five days later, on March 29, the Legation presented in a rather accusing tone, as if blaming on the Government of the Republic the lack of loyalty as a motive for this controversy:

His Majesty’s Government who were glad to accept the arrangement proposed (?) by Your Excellency to His Majesty’s Minister in January last and referred to in my Note No. 24 of the 25th instant, are correspondingly disappointed and surprised that the Government of Guatemala should now raise the question of Article VII of the Boundary Convention of 30th April 1859, with a view, it would appear to procrastinate over the delimitation of the boundary.

I am directed, therefore, to inform Your Excellency that His Majesty’s Government must insist on the prompt conclusion of the necessary arrangements for the demarcation of the boundary without regard to, although equally without prejudice to, the question of Article VII.

To the angry tone of the Chargé d’Affaires of Great Britain, Mr. C. C. A. Lee, the Secretary for Foreign Affairs replied:

The good will and friendly zeal with which the Government of Guatemala has received the suggestions of His Majesty’s Representatives in order to mark the frontier are evident to His Britannic Majesty’s Government; but at the same time it is aware, by the antecedents of the diplomatic correspondence had since 1862, that, if this Government desired to comply with the desires of that of His Majesty, it could not be less interested in that the Convention of April 30, 1859, be faithfully respected in the entirety of its clauses and stipulations. Therefore, my Government cannot understand why the question which I asked you in my note of March 4 last, as to whether His Majesty’s Government would be disposed, on its part, to comply with the stipulation contained in Article VII of the Convention should have caused disappointment and surprise to that of Your Excellency, since this was invoked to have effect solely in the part which refers to the demarcation but nothing was said as to Article 7 which imposes a concrete obligation upon His Majesty’s Government and in favor of the Republic.

The formula of Lord Stanley (1866) was converted into the refrain of the notes of the English Legation, since Mr. Lee, in his communication of April 7, 1933, stated: [Page 219]

By instructions of His Majesty’s Principal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs that His Majesty’s Government in their desire to comply with the wishes of the Guatemalan Government are prepared to give most careful study to any practical proposals which the latter may put forward for the execution of the bilateral stipulations contained in Article VII of the Convention of April 30th, 1859, notwithstanding that in the view of His Majesty’s Government subsequent developments, such as the construction of a railway from Guatemala City to the Atlantic Coast of the Republic, have fulfilled for many years past the needs which Article VII was intended to satisfy and thus have rendered its stipulations inapplicable to present conditions. The means of communication contemplated by Article VII would have to benefit both the Colony of British Honduras and the Republic of Guatemala; would have to be economically sound and would have to be constructed at the joint expense of both parties.

In thus giving proof of their anxiety to meet the wishes of the Guatemalan Government His Majesty’s Government confidently anticipate that Your Excellency’s Government, animated by similar friendly feelings, will proceed forthwith, without awaiting the outcome of the investigation referred to in the preceding paragraph of this note, to an exchange of notes to enable the demarcation of the frontier between the Colony of British Honduras and the Republic of Guatemala to be carried out without further delay.

The study of these paragraphs will be enough to become acquainted with the spiritual atmosphere in which—it being well understood, that it was exclusively in consideration of the desires of Guatemala,—the Government of His Britannic Majesty is acting. Upon agreeing to the unfulfilled bilateral stipulations, the English Government confess that they failed their word given in the compensatory clause of the territorial cession: in mentioning the needs which Article VII Was intended to satisfy, His Britannic Majesty’s Government recognizes the damages, material and intangible, caused the Republic by leaving unconstructed the highway agreed upon, of which the English Minister Mr. Mathew said on June 29, 1862, that “the advantages, which Guatemala will derive from the road, by opening a vast district of rich country, are unquestionable”. The railway to which Mr. Lee refers was opened in 1909, and consequently for a half a century the Republic was deprived of the advantages recognized by Mr. Mathew.

But even if Guatemala had constructed, without the sacrifices which it has cost her, her railway in the year of 1859, the claim of the party guilty of violation of the contractual pact that if the injured party proceeds at his own cost to repair the damage suffered by him, the transgressor is exonerated from responsibility, is truly unusual! It can be taken for granted without fear of error, that no English tribunal—international or ordinary—would seriously consider such jurisprudence. And still less what is insinuated in the following paragraph of Mr. Lee’s note: for Great Britain to satisfy the compensation which, if the Convention of 1859 were in force, she would owe to [Page 220] Guatemala for the territorial cession of Belize, that compensation “would have to benefit the Colony of Belize!” This atrocity was defined by the Minister Mr. Birch in his note of November 13, 1934:

I am now instructed to put forward, as demonstration of the good will of His Majesty’s Government towards the Guatemalan Government, and as their contribution towards the settlement of the above question, the following proposal which, after the most careful study of the economic considerations, appears to His Majesty’s Government to be the only one which can satisfy the above requirements. His Majesty’s Government propose that the Government of British Honduras should construct a road from Belize to the frontier of Peten and that the necessary continuation on the Guatemalan side should be constructed by the Guatemalan Government.

The “careful study of the economic considerations” must have referred to the precarious economic situation of the Colony, consequent to the energetic suppression of smuggling exercised by the Government of Guatemala, aggravated by the circumstance that the aerial communication between the capital of the Republic and the towns in transit, in fact decreased the commerce in transit and the movement of travellers by the port of Belize: the extensive department of Peten was strangled, without a direct exit to the sea due to the British dismemberment of Guatemalan territory. And so, according to the English Government, the compensation due the Republic from His Britannic Majesty’s Government would have to be diverted from its intimate character to favor exclusively His Majesty’s possessions. It is, in reality, a strange manner to give satisfaction to the wishes of Guatemala. And furthermore, in his above mentioned note, Minister Birch added that His Majesty’s Government considered “as an essential condition to his proposal, that the Guatemalan Government should remove the existing ban on the export of produce from Peten through British Honduras and should refrain in the future from imposing vexatious administrative barriers.” And in the same paragraph, the magnanimous promise in exchange for the elimination of the customs tariffs for Belize: “At the same time, I am to inform Your Excellency that His Majesty’s Government are prepared to cooperate as far as possible with the Guatemalan Government with a view to the suppression of contraband activities on the frontier”.

The Government of Guatemala did not weaken in its extreme spirit of conciliation and, taking into account the antecedents of this unfortunate affair, made the minimum contra-proposals of a modesty excessive, only conceivable in the desire of obtaining, although by means of the renunciation of the most legitimate claims, some legal formula which, with a very reduced advantage for the Republic, would give the impression that within the canons of the international family [Page 221] the dignity of Guatemala had received, on the part of Great Britain, the consideration which by no concept has she ceased to deserve.

But the Republic had consented, in 1859, to be the propitiatory victim on the altars of English ambition, and this unfortunate memory only serves as a stimulant to the arrogant injustice of the Government of London: no proposal could be satisfactory to them, they were determined not to comply with their engagements, but, on the contrary, to attain new advantages at the cost of Guatemala.

In the impossibility of reaching any direct adjustment whatever, the Government again proposed, as a last recourse, arbitration—and suggested as arbitrator His Excellency Franklin Delano Roosevelt, President of the United States: His Majesty’s Government accepted in principle, but according to the note signed by Lord Halifax of August 17, 1937: “they are unable to agree that the arbitrator should be the President of the United States. They could, in fact, only accept arbitration in this case by the Permanent Court of International Justice at The Hague”.

Lord Halifax deemed it unnecessary “to explain that this decision is not based on any objection of principle to a single arbitrator in a suitable case, still less to the President of the United States individually”.

It rests rather on the conviction that The Hague Court is the proper tribunal to decide such a case as the present. The reasons for this view are as follows. The issues in the present case are essentially of a legal character involving difficult questions of law and interpretation which could not satisfactorily be decided by any tribunal other than a legal tribunal of high standing, and of all possible legal tribunals The Hague Court by reason of the authority of its judges and the length and nature of its experience is, in the opinion of His Majesty’s Government, by far the most suitable to decide a question of this kind. Moreover it has been the invariable practice of His Majesty’s Government to make use of the machinery of The Hague Court wherever possible, for the settlement of international disputes, save in cases where special considerations warrant a different course, and they see no sufficient reason for a departure from this practice in the present case.

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs replied under date of September 22, 1937:

The noncompliance with Article VII of the Convention of ’59 and the non-ratification of the settlement of ’63 have caused Guatemala, other than the material loss, intangible injuries of a different character which can be proved by reading the copious correspondence sustained by the two Governments since the middle of the last century; injuries which the arbitrator must take into consideration, precisely because the disagreement, subject of arbitration, refers to something different than the mere legal interpretation of the dead letter of the Convention.

[Page 222]

It is not a question of deciding merely juridical issues which involve questions of law and interpretation, and the Government of Guatemala is convinced that that of His Britannic Majesty, animated by the most ample and elevated spirit, will take into consideration this viewpoint. The Government of Guatemala must express first the profound respect and consideration which it has for the Permanent Court of International Justice at The Hague, the competency and integrity of which are beyond discussion; but, at the same time, it considers it necessary to set forth its conviction that the questions at issue are not only of a juridical order and therefore depart from the somewhat rigid regulations of that tribunal which is exclusively de jure with strict legal rules to which it must adhere in its decisions.

And since His Excellency Lord Halifax declares that the disagreement of His Majesty’s Government as to the arbitrator proposed is not based precisely on objections of principle to a single arbitrator—and still less to His Excellency President Roosevelt—in the most courteous manner I request Your Excellency to take into account the considerations which precede and which are to present to his high sense of justice the regret with which the Government of Guatemala declines to accept the Permanent Court of International Justice at The Hague, because for the pending case it does not have ample jurisdiction to consider equitably the complexity of the matter, the settlement of which, I am certain, His Majesty’s Government desires as much as does that of Guatemala.

His Excellency Lord Halifax states that it has been the invariable practice of His Majesty’s Government to make use of the Court at The Hague, whenever possible, for the settlement of international disputes; but indicates also the exception of cases in which special considerations warrant a different procedure.

This latter consideration of the Foreign Office and the complexity of the case, explained in the preceding paragraph, as well as the absence of objection on the part of His Majesty’s Government to His Excellency President Roosevelt as arbitrator, make the Government of the Republic hope that that of His Majesty, desirous as it is of terminating justly and satisfactorily the controversy, will be so kind as to reconsider its suggestion of the Court at The Hague, and will agree to His Excellency the President of the United States as a competent arbitrator to hear the matter and decide it in justice and equity.

After this note addressed to the Foreign Office, various verbal conversations were held between the Secretary for Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Great Britain, during which the latter sustained the claim that the Government of Guatemala should recognize the part of the frontier demarked unilaterally by British engineers, without awaiting the agreement relative to integral compliance with the Convention of 1859. It was not until March 3, 1938, when the Minister of England, Mr. Birch, in an angry tone and with subterfuge, replied to this Government note:

I am instructed to inform Your Excellency in reply that His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom regret that they are unable to accept the validity of the contentions advanced in your note under reference. Actuated by a desire to remove all possible points of frictions [Page 223] between Guatemala and the United Kingdom, His Majesty’s Government have spared no effort throughout the period of the dispute to find a means of implementing Article VII of the Anglo-Guatemalan Convention of 1859 in a manner acceptable to the Guatemalan Government. They are consequently unable to assume any responsibility for the failure of their attempts to reach a settlement satisfactory to all concerned. As regards the question of the non-ratification of the Anglo-Guatemalan Convention of 1863, to which your note makes special reference, I am directed to remind Your Excellency that, as has been pointed out at previous stages of the controversy, her then Majesty’s Government were ready and willing to proceed to ratification in due time, and that it was solely owing to the attitude of the Guatemalan Government that the Convention never entered into force.

In your note under reply, Your Excellency points out that the Guatemalan Government are unable to accept the proposal formulated in the second paragraph of the letter addressed by Lord Halifax to Doctor Matos on the 17th August, 1937, to the effect that the present problem should be submitted for arbitration to the Permanent Court of International Justice of The Hague. His Majesty’s Government for their part remain of the opinion that the issue is essentially legal in character, and for this reason regret that they cannot see their way to reconsider their attitude in the sense desired by the Guatemalan Government.

In these circumstances His Majesty’s Government consider that it would serve no useful purpose to pursue the matter further and that they have, therefor, no option but to treat the present boundary of British Honduras, which they have every reason to regard as being entirely in accordance with the provisions of the Anglo-Guatemalan Convention of 1859, as constituting the correct boundary. They must, moreover, disclaim all responsibility for incidents which may arise from any failure by the Guatemalan Government to observe the boundary.

The note of the English Minister could not do less than radically change the attitude of the Government of Guatemala: the discussion having returned to the point where it had rested in 1884, when the Minister of Guatemala in London presented the dilemma of integral compliance with the Convention or its caducity, the Government of Guatemala had to repeat its energetic protest and reiterate concretely its reservations. It is clear that, as Minister Birch said in his note of November 13 to the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, circumstances have radically changed because of the 116 years of illegal possession on the part of Great Britain of the Anglo-Spanish Belize of 1786 and the 80 years of usurpation of the additional districts to which the lapsed Anglo-Guatemalan Boundary Convention of 1859 refers. The Secretary for Foreign Affairs stated in his note of March 9, 1938:

In reply, I have the honor to call Your Excellency’s attention to the circumstances that the Government of Guatemala in its correspondence of recent years with that Honorable Legation has constantly invited His Majesty’s Government to consider the absolute necessity of giving due compliance to Article VTI of the Convention, because, [Page 224] that Article being the only one of the pact which sets forth obligations to it in exchange for the advantages obtained, non-compliance with that compensatory clause, will necessarily invalidate the Articles which favor Great Britain. Whatever may have been His Majesty’s Government’s reasons for not ratifying the Convention of 1863, it is an undeniable fact that, in rejecting the agreement of modification of the obligations which Article VII of that of 59 imposes on it, the British Government reiterated the recognition of said obligation, agreed upon by it in negotiating and signing the pact and in ratifying it, as well as in considering and proposing the modification of the clause of its obligation.

The Government of Guatemala believes itself firmly assisted in this matter by the Law of Nations, and in face of the declaration that His Majesty’s Government—deeming it useless to consider the Guatemalan viewpoint—decides to set aside the obligations solemnly contracted in a perfect international pact, the Government of Guatemala renews its demand for integral compliance with the Convention of 1859, maintains the reservation of its rights, and rejects responsibilities for the consequences of non-compliance with a treaty, respect for which has been continuously solicited precisely by the Government of Guatemala.

Such is the character of the controversy which Guatemala sustains against Great Britain: at the time of the independence of the Republic, in 1821, the usufructuary privileges granted by the King of Spain to English subjects between the Sibun, Belize, Nuevo and Hondo Rivers, belonging to the jurisdiction of Guatemala, ceased,—and the English Government, although pretending to be a friend of the new State, in spite of the latter’s protests and by means of the abuse of force, continued in the illegal possession of the territories of the Spanish concessions.

The Government of Guatemala resorted in 1835, to an appeal for the aid of the Government of the United States to bring about the evacuation by the Government of England of the territories which they illegally held, or at least while the question of right was being discussed, that His Majesty’s subjects cease the depredations to which they resorted beyond the demarcation of the Anglo-Spanish concessions: in a memorable session of the Congress of the United States, at the beginning of 1853, the abuse of Great Britain and the complete sovereignty of Guatemala over all the territory in dispute were proved without a doubt.

Nevertheless, by the Dallas–Clarendon Treaty (1856) the Governments of the United States and of Great Britain without the knowledge and moreover, without the consent of the Government of Guatemala, agreed that Great Britain should seize upon five times the territorial extension of the English occupation, and in the form of a boundary treaty obtain from the Republic the legal title necessary to give an honest appearance to the violations of the Monroe Doctrine and the Clayton–Bulwer Convention which this dismemberment signified. And so the defenceless Republic was handed over to the discretion [Page 225] of Great Britain, and Guatemala had to sign the boundary treaty in accordance with the pleasure and taste of the English plenipotentiary.

Nevertheless, and since right is manifested even under the worst circumstances, Great Britain, in face of the impossibility of obtaining the legal title which the United States demanded during the course of the prolonged Anglo–United States controversy relative to Central American affairs, of which Belize formed the principal part, the English Plenipotentiary was obliged to consent to the compensatory clause, perfectly defined by English diplomats, as has been seen in this memorandum.

The English Government, in spite of having ratified said compensatory clause, as soon as they had consummated the occupation of Belize, repudiated compliance with their engagement, and, upon declaring invalid the article of compensation, caused the entire pact of territorial cession, mistakenly called a boundary part, to lapse. Here originated, since 1862, the 80 year old controversy, for whose just solution the Government of the United States have offered their friendly mediation in the Memorandum of June 8, 1938, now under reply.

As in 1835, in December of 1872, the Plenipotentiary of Guatemala stated to the Government of the United States that England had caused the caducity of the boundary Convention of 1859, and that Guatemala, in the material impossibility of securing immediate justice, reserved her rights for an opportune occasion; the Minister of Guatemala made similar declarations before the Government of London in 1884.

In the course of this memorandum, the Government of Guatemala has reviewed the entire history of the question, examined in the light of the opinion of prominent public men of the United States: the Republic no longer need to await the moment when the Government of the United States, natural defender of right and justice in the Western Hemisphere—and the circumstances which in 1856 obliged it to consent to the dismemberment of the weak American Republic by a great European power—now being changed—will use its unquestionable authority to make Great Britain return to Guatemala the territory which she usurped, and indemnify her for the damages resulting from that usurpation, not the least of which are the smuggling carried on by British subjects and the undue exploitation of the forest of Peten.

Great Britain is involved now in an armed conflict for the defense, so say her statesmen, of the sanctity of International Treaties; this is an opportune occasion to prove with acts the validity of the English ideal.

[Guatemala, November 15, 1939.]

[Page 226]

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  1. Not printed.
  2. Ante, p. 177.
  3. The words used were: “… to the boundary between that country and British Honduras.”
  4. For the French text of the Definitive Treaty of Peace and Friendship between Great Britain and Spain, signed at Versailles September 3, 1783, see Georg Friedrich von Martens, Recueil des principaux traités (Gottingue, 1791–1801), Vol. ii, p. 484; Martens, Recueil de traités, 2d ed. (Gottingue, 1817–1835), Vol. iii, p. 541. For an English translation, see George Chalmers, A Collection of Treaties between Great Britain and Other Powers (London. 1790). Vol. ii, p. 229.
  5. Convention Relative to America between Great Britain and Spain, signed at London, July 14, 1786, British and Foreign State Papers, Vol. i, pt. 1, p. 654.
  6. Treaty of Amity, Commerce and Navigation, signed at London, December 26, 1826, British and Foreign State Papers, Vol. xiv, p. 614.
  7. Treaty between the United States and Great Britain, signed at Washington, April 19, 1850, Hunter Miller (ed.), Treaties and Other International Acts of the United States of America, Vol. 5, p. 671.
  8. British and Foreign State Papers, Vol. xxxvii, p. 32.