740.00111 A.R./889: Telegram

The Ambassador in Chile (Bowers) to the Secretary of State

2. Just had hour’s talk with Ortega2 and with following result:

British Ambassador with naval aide3 called on Ortega Sunday morning with an urgent formal question whether Chile considers the safety zone “legally” effective. Ortega replied that it was not a matter of legality [but?] of an “accord between chanceries.”
Ambassador insisted that the neutrality proclamations of Latin America4 based on the Hague Convention5 are inconsistent with Panama Declaration. Ortega replied they could be modified when the committee meets at Rio on the 15th. Ortega got distinct impression from Ambassador’s talk that England may be planning one or more deliberate violations of our neutral zone to make an issue at Rio. Bentinck admitted that German boats in Chilean waters are emboldened by the safety zone and said that should they move England would have to act.
[sic] A month ago British requested Chile to exclude all submarines both submerged and on surface from Chilean waters. Confidentially German Ambassador told Ortega that such exclusion would not be considered an unfriendly act by Germany. However, Ortega in contact with Argentine urged not to act until action could be taken at Rio. Nevertheless British pressing insistently for action now.
Found Ortega exceedingly open and frank and eager to talk. I got distinct impression that Ortega is loyal to the spirit of Panama but that under pressure from belligerents he felt the need of reassurance as to our sympathy and support.

  1. Abraham Ortega, Chilean Minister for Foreign Affairs.
  2. Charles Henry Bentinck and S. H. T. Arliss, respectively.
  3. Pan American Union, Law and Treaty Series Nos. 12, 13, 14, and 15: Decrees and Regulations on Neutrality (Washington 1939–1940).
  4. Foreign Relations, 1907, pt. 2, p. 1239.