Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. Guy Walter Bay of the Division of the American Republics

Dr. Caceres53 called to see me on the afternoon of March 19, 1941 and brought up the subject of the boundary dispute between Honduras and Nicaragua. He referred to the recent meeting of the Boundary Mediation Commission at San José and said he was convinced that the Commission would meet with no success so long as it continued to insist on a survey before reaching an agreement in principle. He said he understood that the activities of the Commission in San José had been limited to bringing correspondence and organization up to date and an agreement that Dr. Corrigan would be authorized to suggest to the Honduran Government that a preliminary survey be made, possibly by the National Geographic Society.

Dr. Caceres said that he was not authorized to make any formal statement on behalf of his Government but that he was fully convinced [Page 256] the President of Honduras55 would not consent to a survey until some agreement had been reached with Nicaragua. He said that he believed a plan whereby Nicaragua would recognize the award of the King of Spain of 190656 in exchange for concessions on the part of Honduras was the only plan which offered any hope of success. He added that he did not have a definite plan for concessions to be made but suggested as a possibility changing the border line from Totecacinte in a straight line to some point along the River Segovia more or less due east from Totecacinte or possibly as far northeast as the junction between Rio Segovia and Rio Bocay. He said that this idea was advanced as a tentative solution and that concessions might be made at some other point. He added that Honduras would be willing to grant Nicaragua equal navigation rights on the Rio Segovia, the northern bank being under Honduran sovereignty and the southern bank belonging to Nicaragua.

Dr. Caceres repeated a number of times his strong conviction that his Government would not accept a preliminary survey and he stated that the President was particularly opposed to the idea of an aerial survey.

Dr. Caceres added that speaking personally and unofficially he felt the dispute had now reached a point where it was no longer possible to settle it on a judicial or historical basis but that some solution had to be found which would “save the faces” of the President of Honduras and the President of Nicaragua.57 He said he believed the formula proposed would accomplish this as Honduras would win the point of having Nicaragua recognize the award of the King of Spain and Nicaragua would have the satisfaction of receiving territorial concessions in compensation for its agreement to the award. He said that if the Department of State or the Mediation Commission cared to present a proposal or a draft treaty along the lines he mentioned, he would give it his wholehearted support. He added that if an agreement could be reached by the Nicaraguan and Honduran Governments accepting such a solution in principle, he was convinced his Government would then make no objection to a survey by the National Geographic Society or another organization chosen by the Mediation Commission.

  1. Julian R. Cáceres, Honduran Minister in Washington.
  2. Tiburcio Carias Andino.
  3. Given at Madrid December 23, 1906; see Foreign Relations, 1918, pp. 11 ff.
  4. Gen. Anastasio Somoza.