740.00111 A.R.–Subs/1: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Chiefs of Diplomatic Missions in Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Nicaragua, Peru, and Uruguay

Seven of the American republics, including the United States, have enacted laws or decrees providing for the exclusion from their ports and territorial waters of belligerent submarines. Proclamations to this effect were issued by the President of the United States on October 18, 193916 by virtue of the Neutrality Act then in force and [Page 780] on November 4, 193917 by virtue of the current Neutrality Act. The other countries which have taken similar action are Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, and Venezuela. The prohibition applies in four of the seven cases including the United States to both armed and commercial submarines while in three cases only war submarines are affected. An exception is made in case of force majeure. On February 2, 1940 the Inter-American Neutrality Committee approved and transmitted to the American republics via the Pan American Union a recommendation18 regarding the exclusion of submarines.

Please discuss this situation with the Foreign Minister and point out to him that it would be highly desirable for all the American republics having sea coasts to adopt a uniform policy in this respect. You may inform him that the Department feels that the adoption of a prohibition on the entrance of belligerent submarines, similar to that already adopted by a number of the republics so situated, by the remaining ones would—under present and prospective circumstances—not only constitute an important contribution to continental community of action in the face of common problems but it would also be of great value in assisting those republics in avoiding unfortunate situations in which they might well be placed if they admitted submarines intending to prey on belligerent and neutral commerce in American waters. The exclusion of submarines would thus be a factor in the practical maintenance of the security zone principle set forth in the Declaration of Panama.19

  1. 54 Stat. 2668.
  2. 54 Stat. 2672.
  3. Printed in Pan American Union, Law and Treaty Series No. 15, Appendix A, pp. 33, 68 ff.
  4. Foreign Relations, 1939, Vol. v, p. 36.