The Minister in Costa Rica (Hornibrook) to the Secretary of State

No. 2937

Sir: I have the honor to refer to my despatch No. 2921 of February 18, 1941,1 wherein I reported the possibility of the scuttling of German ships at Puntarenas harbor in the event we should become involved in war.

Yesterday the British Chargé d’Affaires2 called at the Legation to advise me as to the seriousness of the situation and asked my advice as to what he should do, or what I might be able to do, in regard to the matter. He was told that inasmuch as I represent a neutral country I found myself, in the absence of instructions, unable to take the matter up with either the President3 or the Foreign Office, but because he represented a belligerent country I thought it quite proper for him in his capacity as British Chargé to make representations in regard to the matter. I suggested to him that at a cocktail party which was to be held on the same evening at the Union Club in honor of the wife of the President of Peru, he would have an opportunity to meet the President of the Republic and the various Cabinet officers, at which time the matter could be discussed informally with them. He called this morning to advise me he had taken it up with three Cabinet officers and with don Luis Anderson,4 and that while he received no definite assurances as to whether or not the Costa Rican Government is prepared to wink at the law of nations and remove the crews from these vessels he was hopeful something might be done.

I told him that in the absence of instructions from the Department I could be of no material aid in the matter, but with his permission [Page 83] I would report to the Department that he had held certain discussions with Costa Rican officials pertaining to the situation.

I should appreciate it if I could be advised as to whether or not the Department wishes the Legation to inject itself into this situation.

Respectfully yours,

Wm. H. Hornibrook
  1. Not printed.
  2. George Lyall.
  3. Rafael Angel Calderón Guardia.
  4. Authority on international law and consulting attorney for the Honduran Government.