The Honduran Minister for Foreign Affairs ( Aguirre ) to the Secretary of State 68

No. 519

Excellency: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of Your Excellency’s courteous communication dated September 5th last, in which, referring to the note which the Department of State of which I am in charge addressed to you on June 13th last, notifying you of the termination of the Commission for Mediation in the frontier incident between Nicaragua and Honduras in conformity with the Pact of Mutual Offers, Your Excellency’s Government assumes that the reasons which Honduras adduces for declaring the aforesaid mediation terminated have the sole object of reaffirming the rights which it has always maintained regarding the validity of the terms of the Award of the King of Spain, but not the suspension of the labors of the former, and that it desires that my Government continue to observe the stipulations of the Pact signed at San José, Costa Rica, December 10, 1934 [1937], cooperating with its efforts to facilitate a peaceful settlement of the controversy.

His Excellency likewise calls my attention to the fact that in offering the good offices of his Government, together with those of Costa Rica and Venezuela, in the matter to which I am referring, suggestions for a definitive settlement were specifically contemplated, and the idea was made clear that in order to have legal value they would have to be accepted by both parties, since the Mediation Commission does not possess the characteristics of an Arbitral Tribunal, and that in view of all these circumstances Your Excellency’s Government is confident that the best means for finding a satisfactory solution of the controversy is for the Mediation Commission to continue its efforts.

My Government, Excellency and Mr. Secretary, maintains and reaffirms the contents of its note of June 13th, already mentioned, by which it notified the members from the countries of the Delegates on [Page 263] the Mediation Commission of the termination of its functions. The note to which I allude sets forth clearly the reasons and legal grounds that Honduras has had for proceeding in the way in which it is doing.

As I had the honor of stating in my note already referred to, the friendly intervention of the Governments of the United States of America, the United States of Venezuela and the Republic of Costa Rica took place in order to avoid the tension and discord occasioned by the issuance and sale of a postage stamp of the Republic of Nicaragua on which the map of that nation is outlined, the boundary line with Honduras laid down by the King of Spain in his arbitral award being plainly altered.

On December 10, 1937, the Mediation Commission signed the Pact of Mutual Offers which was likewise signed and approved by the representatives of the two Governments. In that Pact it was stated in one of its clauses “A mutual offer of the two Governments to solve the present conflict by the pacific means sanctioned by International Law,” and with those categorical affirmations, tranquility and good harmony between the two sister nations were insured.

At the meeting which the Commission held to suspend its work, it indicated the period of two months, counting from April 9, 1938, to June 9th of the same year, to resume it, if unforeseen circumstances did not necessitate renewing it sooner. On June 3rd, when the period was about to expire, Their Excellencies Zúñiga Montúfar and Rodriguez were good enough to address a radio telegraph message to this Chancellery, informing it that His Excellency Mr. Corrigan had made known, in notes of May 23rd, that the studies being made on the statements submitted to the Mediation Commission by the Delegations of Honduras and Nicaragua required more time, and he proposed that the continuation of the plenary sessions be postponed to a date later than June 9th, and that for that reason it was absolutely necessary to defer the date of continuation of the plenary sessions of the Mediation Commission, and that when exact knowledge was had of that date he would take pleasure in giving notice of it, for all pertinent purposes.

At that stage of the mediation, this Chancellery received a note signed on November 26, 1938, by the President of the Mediation Commission, His Excellency Doctor Tobías Zúñiga Montúfar, in which he was good enough to communicate that the American Geographical Society had been requested to draw up a reconnaissance map of the region of the Coco or Segovia River, and in this connection he submitted a plan for performing the work and the estimate of its cost, half of which would be paid by Honduras and half by Nicaragua if the said plan won the approval of their Governments.

This Chancellery replied on December 31st of that year, stating that the elaboration of the map referred to presupposed the setting aside of the natural boundary established in the award, a boundary which [Page 264] it is not possible for my Government to vary, and I set forth at length the reasons on which [my stand]70 was based, in the note which I had the honor to address to Your Excellency on June 13th of the current year. And in consideration of such reasons I regretted to have to state to His Excellency the President of the Mediation Commission that my Government deplored that it could not consent to a new discussion on the territorial rights already decisively defined by the civilized medium of arbitration.

On March 18, 1940, I addressed another note to His Excellency the President of the Mediation Commission, for the reason that in those days the newspapers of Costa Rica and Nicaragua had been announcing the coming convocation of that [body]70 to reach the termination of its labors; it being said also that the cartographic studies which would serve as a basis for the settlement that would have to be recommended had been made. This last [statement]70 gave reason for alluding in that note to the action of the Honorable John B. Ocheltree, who gave a private lecture at the President’s House at Tegucigalpa, with projected pictures, intended to show the need for the aerophotographic map that was planned. And because of this lecture, my Government reaffirmed the ideas of the note of December 31, 1938, and firmly maintained its opinion with respect to the inviolability of the award of the King of Spain, declaring that it could not accept any settlement that would deviate from the corresponding part of the text of the [offer of]70 Good Offices, in which it is stated that the three mediating Governments would submit suggestions as to the means acceptable to both parties that can be accepted by Honduras and Nicaragua with the object of reaching a definitive settlement of the conflict.

From everything that has been set forth, and in consideration of the fact that more than three years have elapsed since June 9, 1938, when the honorable Mediation Commission suspended its labors—and it has not resumed them—to enter upon the final stage of its lofty mission, having previously, indeed, taken steps which completely deviate from the idea that the award is to be carried out that determined the territorial rights of Honduras, my Government maintains and reaffirms, as I have stated in the beginning, the contents of its note of June 13th above-mentioned, in which it declares terminated the labors of the honorable Mediation Commission, with the desire that it be considered to have withdrawn from the mediation, since it is necessary to terminate a situation that cannot continue indefinite. And in maintaining and reaffirming resolutely the note mentioned, it does so without there being any ground for its decision being doubted, as it had declared in the note alluded to that it could not give its acceptance [Page 265] to any settlement whatever which was not the due execution of the award, because of being under obligation to defend thereby the integrity of the Honduran territory; this declaration does not refer to the honorable Mediation Commission, for its object is solely to make known the standard of conduct imposed upon it by its constitutional duties.

Through the worthy channel of Your Excellency I repeat to your illustrious Government the regret of the Government of Honduras at finding itself obliged to take this step, but it cannot fail to do so in view of what is prescribed in the Constitution of the Republic. Likewise I repeat to it its full gratitude for what could be accomplished in the discharge of the good offices which it was pleased to offer.

I avail myself [etc.]

Salvador Aguirre
  1. Similar notes were sent to the Governments of Costa Rica and Venezuela.
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