714.44A15/112: Telegram

The Minister in Guatemala (Des Portes) to the Secretary of State

7. For the Under Secretary. The British Minister has just called on me to give me a copy of the British proposals regarding the Belize matter. These proposals arrived here some days ago but were not presented in the Minister’s absence.

The proposals definitely restrict the competence of the proposed arbitration to the responsibility of Great Britain for its alleged failure to comply with the obligations of article 7 of the Treaty of 1859. The responsibility if any is limited by the following proposed provision in the terms of reference: “By what method, applying all relevant legal and equitable principles, shall His Majesty’s Government now discharge their obligation under that article?” Guatemala is also to consent to a final delimitation of the boundary between Guatemala and British Honduras immediately after the tribunal has pronounced its final award.

These proposals do not seem to carry out the assurances given by the British Ambassador to Mr. Welles as quoted in the Department’s telegram No. 1, January 13, 5 p.m., that these proposals will “empower the proposed arbitral tribunal to effect a settlement of all the issues involved in the event that there has not been compliance with article 7 of the 1859 Treaty”. The British proposals would definitely seem to rule out from the tribunal’s jurisdiction the basic Guatemalan contention that the treaty of 1859 is void due to Great Britain’s failure to carry out article 7 thereof.

The second important feature of the British note is the anything but gracious and friendly tone in which it is couched. I am afraid that the President9 and Foreign Minister10 will be irritated by some of the harsher phrases used and I am inclined to speculate on the possibility that they were inserted with this object.

I would appreciate instructions at the earliest possible moment in order to know what attitude to assume in the event that the Foreign Minister consults me.

Full text of note by air mail Thursday.

Des Portes
  1. Gen. Jorge Ubico.
  2. Carlos Salazar.