810.20 Defense/357: Telegram

The Minister in Uruguay (Wilson) to the Secretary of State

267. Following the interpellation of the Minister for Foreign Affairs the Senate early this morning voted the following two motions: First, (by 25 to 1) “the explanations of the Minister of Foreign Affairs having been heard, the Senate proceeds to the order of the day, making it clear that in no case will it lend its approval to treaties or conventions which authorize the creation in our territory of air or naval bases43 which imply a servitude of any kind for the nation or a diminution of the national sovereignty”; and second (by 20 to 6) “furthermore, and especially aside from the question which gave rise to the request for information, the Senate is constrained to declare, likewise, the extreme displeasure caused by the final remarks of Dr. Guani’s explanation, in attributing to this constitutional organ, and with manifest injustice, motives foreign to the purpose of serving honorably the supreme national interests.”

The result of the debate was a complete surprise. Yesterday afternoon it was confidently predicted in political circles that there would be no vote of censure and that a formula would be found which would save every one’s face and postpone for the time being any political crisis. In fact I am informed that during an intermission in the debate the President of the Senate suggested a formula which was generally acceptable and which would have avoided a vote of censure declaring that it would be left to public opinion to judge the acts of the Government in this matter.

In the later stages of the debate Guani appears to have lost his temper, to have charged that the Nationalist Senators were acting from personal political motives, and to have declared in effect that the Government would not admit such obstructive tactics from a part of the Senate. This infuriated not only the Nationalist Senators but also the Colorados. The Nationalists took advantage of this opportunity to introduce the motions given above and carried [Page 172]their Colorado colleagues with them on the plea that such action was necessary to uphold the independence of the Senate.

In the course of his explanations Guani read practically the complete text of the memorandum submitted to him on June 19, last (see my despatch No. 379 [369] of June 19th.44)

The political situation is extremely confused and it is impossible at the present moment to foresee what the developments may be.

  1. For denials by Acting Secretary of State Welles of reports regarding American air and naval bases in Uruguay, see Department of State Bulletin, November 16, 1940, p. 432, and ibid., November 22, 1940, p. 452.
  2. Not printed.