740.00111 A.R./1319: Telegram

The Chargé in Uruguay (Chapin) to the Secretary of State

254. My telegram No. 252, June 20, 5 p.m. Following is a translation of Guani’s proposed circular communication to be air mailed to the 19 other American Republics tomorrow:6

“In view of the course of international events the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Oriental Republic of Uruguay considers it to be of the highest interest to inform His Excellency, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of [the United States of America], of certain points of view in the light of which the Government is studying the possibilities for the maintenance of the security and territorial integrity of our countries in the event that an American nation should be drawn into war with nations of other continents.

The development of the spiritual and material union of the American Republics by virtue of the different agreements reached during recent years makes it advisable [at this time, and particularly beneficial in the common interest of all the Americas, to decide upon a statement of points of view in this regard.]

The contingency which is of concern to Uruguay should be considered, in many of its aspects, as being similar to that which might confront the other nations of the continent; but it should be recalled that, on other occasions, our country found itself in a situation where it was necessary to adopt a definite attitude, declaring that the execution of the principles of American solidarity was the guiding rule of its international policy.

In effect: In declaring in 1917 that any act susceptible of affecting adversely the rights of a nation of the continent should be considered as constituting an offense committed against all the nations and [should] cause a common and uniform reaction, Uruguay based itself upon the most solid principles of Pan-Americanism, which should be interpreted not only as a moral doctrine or ideology, but [Page 22] also in the sense of a positive policy, a point of practical application in the hour of continental decision.

The purpose made manifest by our peoples to strengthen the bonds which identify the American community, have been evident since the moment of their struggles for emancipation, when the concept of country, open and free, embraced the whole length and breadth of the continent. The history of America during the past and present centuries, bears numerous examples which demonstrate the persistence of that same spirit which today represents one of the most solid guarantees for the security of the new world. In a letter now memorable Artigas had said, addressing himself to Bolivar, in bespeaking protection for his ships, that in their struggles both were intimately united by bonds of nature and of common interests. ‘On my part,’ he added, ‘I proffer like treatment to the standard of your republic should the circumstance of time make it possible to see it displayed in our ports.’

This same thought many years later inspired the Government of Uruguay to issue its decree of June 18, 1917,7 according to which no American country which, in defense of its rights should find itself in a state of war with nations of other continents, would be treated as a belligerent. In anticipation of an agreement in this regard, Uruguay reiterated its deep conviction that the policy of America would evolve, definitively, a practical formula of solidary action in defense of its ideals of liberty and democracy.

The subsequent evaluation [evolution] of international law appeared to be directed towards the achievement of a system of proscription of violence and of the establishment of peace. There were created by this means obligations of another order in such manner as to necessitate a reconciliation of the theory of American solidarity with the pact of the League of Nations for example, and with other agreements celebrated to broaden the methods of pacific solution in international conflicts. All recourse to any of these procedures being discarded for the moment, the international action of the American countries can only be made effective by the energy of their union for the purpose of imposing the will of justice over the will of force.

The Declaration of Lima of 19388 categorically confirmed the common interest and the determination of all the states of the continent towards making effective its solidarity in the event that any of the American Republics should be threatened in its essential rights.

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These principles later had a more concrete development in the consultative meetings held at Panama and Habana, where a consideration was given to the question of reciprocal assistance and defensive cooperation of the American nations, in a manner concordant with the purposes which animated the Uruguayan action in 1917.

Resolution XV of Habana9 provides that any attack by a non-American state against the integrity or territorial inviolability, against the sovereignty or political independence of an American state, shall be considered as an act of aggression against the states signatory to the declaration. Should any acts of aggression be committed, or should there be reasons to believe that an aggression is being prepared by a non-American state against the integrity or territorial inviolability, against the sovereignty or political independence of an American state, the signatory states shall consult among themselves with a view to adopting such measures as it may be advisable to take. For the purpose of facilitating such consultations the Declaration of Lima established the method of meetings of Ministers of Foreign Relations. Doubtless when considered opportune this mechanism will be set in motion. The Government of Uruguay, however, feels at this time that the defense of the continent against war may present situations of extreme urgency in such manner as not to allow them the holding of a Meeting of Ministers. There should be borne in mind moreover that there have been established certain rules for the convocation of such meetings such as the transmission of a list of proposed topics to the Directive Council [Governing Board] of the Pan-American Union and to await through the same channel the receipt of the comments which the Governments may desire to present.

The Government of Uruguay believes on its part at a given moment the countries of America may find themselves obliged to act swiftly and in such contingency to adopt immediate measures. The line of conduct of this Chancellery would have to be consonant with its tradition of deeply rooted concepts of American brotherhood and by virtue of this fact is prepared in anticipation of the future development of events to define its position. In June 1917 Uruguay expressed the hope that the nations of this hemisphere would arrive at an agreement for the fixing of these principles. There having now been established the common interest and the desire to make effective their solidarity, there being already fixed at the recent conferences the principle that any act committed against a continental state shall be considered as an aggression against all, we would appear to be in [Page 24] a position to be able to affirm that the agreements to which Uruguay then aspired do now exist in their full meaning. An accord in the attitudes of all the American countries would therefore now be highly opportune.

The Government of Uruguay would therefore greatly appreciate receiving the views in this respect of the Chancellery of [the United States of America,] assuring it at once of the high value which it attaches to the eminent opinions of your friendly Government.”

  1. Text corrected on the basis of Spanish copy supplied by the Uruguayan Minister on June 27, and an English translation attached to same (740.00111 A.R./1444).

    A Spanish text appears in Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores, Solidaridad Americana, Consulta Sobre el Caso de un Estado Americano en una Guerra Extracontinental (Montevideo, 1941), p. 1.

  2. See undated telegram from the Minister in Uruguay, Foreign Relations, 1917, supp. 1, p. 301.
  3. Declaration of the Principles of the Solidarity of America; for text, see Report of the Delegation of the United States of America to the Eighth International Conference of American States, Lima, Peru, December 9–27, 1938 (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1941), p. 189. For correspondence regarding this Conference, see Foreign Relations, 1938, vol. v, pp. 1 ff.
  4. Department of State Bulletin, August 24, 1940, p. 136. For correspondence on the Second Meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the American Republics, Habana, July 21–30, 1940, see Foreign Relations, 1940, vol. v, pp. 180 ff.