The Uruguayan Minister for Foreign Affairs (Larreta) to the Secretary of State 14


In the note of this Ministry under date of October 19,16 I stated that the “parallelism between democracy and peace must constitute a strict rule of action in inter-American policy”. And I added that the highest respect for the principle of non-intervention by a state in the affairs of another, a principle established during the last decade, does not [Page 191] shield without limitation “the notorious and repeated violation by any republic of the elementary rights of man and of the citizen, nor the non-fulfilment of obligations freely contracted by a state with respect to its external and internal duties and which entitle it to be an active member of the international community”.


This Ministry is deeply aware of the urgent need of developing these concepts, and of proposing to the American governments an exchange of views in an effort to arrive at formulas and solutions that will bring into concrete reality this sense of right which is so firmly held in the Americas. If before the war the interdependence of democracy and peace was a recognized concept in inter-American relations, that concept has, since the terrible experience of the war, acquired the force of an absolute truth.

At the Conference for the Maintenance of Peace held in Buenos Aires in 1936,17 President Roosevelt said:

“First, it is our duty by every honorable means to prevent any future war among ourselves. This can best be done through the strengthening of the processes of constitutional democratic government—to make these processes conform to the modern need for unity and efficiency and, at the same time, preserve the individual liberties of our citizens. By so doing, the people of our nations, unlike the people of many nations who live under other forms of government, can and will insist on their intention to live in peace. Thus will democratic government be justified throughout the world.”

Since the representatives of the other American Republics assembled at Buenos Aires unanimously shared these basic principles, there was proclaimed “the existence of a solidary democracy in America”.

At every inter-American meeting held since that time, identical concepts have been stated.

In Panama, in 1939,18 it was said that—

“On more than one occasion the American Republics have affirmed their adherence to the democratic ideal which prevails in this Hemisphere;

“This ideal may be endangered by the action of foreign ideologies inspired in diametrically opposite principles; and

“It is advisable, consequently, to protect the integrity of this ideal through the adoption of appropriate measures.”

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In Habana, in 1940,19 resolution VII refers to the “Diffusion of Doctrines Tending to Place in Jeopardy the Common Inter-American Democratic Ideal or To Threaten the Security and Neutrality of the American Republics,” and recommends a series of measures against propaganda originating abroad or carried out by foreign elements within the republics of the continent.

In Rio de Janeiro, 1942,20 measures intended to “prevent or punish as crimes, acts against democratic institutions” were confirmed and strengthened.


In March 1945, at the Conference of Mexico City21 the American Republics, still under the impact of the tragic experience of a war which had already lasted five years, gave vital force and meaning to these concepts in numerous declarations. In resolution VII the American Republics “affirmed their adherence to the democratic ideal”, and declared that “it is desirable to safeguard this ideal” and that “the dissemination of totalitarian doctrines in this Continent would endanger the American democratic ideal”.

The Declaration of Mexico (resolution XI) confirmed these concepts and sought to give them force and effect throughout the continent, by proclaiming: “The purpose of the State is the happiness of man in society. The interests of the community should be harmonized with the rights of the individual. The American man cannot conceive of living without justice, just as he cannot conceive of living without liberty”.

And in resolution XL on International Protection of the Essential Rights of Man it was resolved, “To proclaim the adherence of the American Republics to the principles established by international law for safeguarding the essential rights of man, and to declare their support of a system of international protection of these rights.”

It is highly important to note that these concepts are extended to protect the individual as such in his essential rights, and that the necessity of a system of international protection of those rights is proclaimed.

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The Conferences of Mexico City and San Francisco,22 which took place at the close of this war, gave a still firmer and more definite proof of the common determination to make effective, to any necessary extent, the defense of the democratic ideal and of the individual, as the essential objective. Thus the nations became bound, not only by international duties but also by internal duties having an international effect. The persistent and repeated violation of the essential rights of man and of the citizen affects both the American and the international sense of justice. (Introductions articles 1, 2, 13, 55, 62, 68, etc., of the Charter of the United Nations.23)

And as a sanction against the violation of such principles, article 6 provided that: “A member of the United Nations which has persistently violated the Principles contained in the present Charter may be expelled from the Organization by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council”.


The repeated violation of such rules is not only disastrous in itself, but sooner or later produces grave international repercussions, A nazi-fascist regime, acting through its characteristic methods, attacks the rights of man and of the citizen, develops the ideology of force, creates false notions of superiority and is a fatal ferment for future external conflicts. It is a system which, prompted by the instinct of self-preservation in an environment which is hostile to it, must spread out in order to survive. Its will to endure forces it, in times of crisis, toward international conflict, in the hope of filling out its weakened ranks through a wave of patriotism. It is, furthermore, a system which seeks to spread contagion and which tends thereto by the very potency of the virus which it injects into the social organism.

Hence it was that in Mexico and in San Francisco, new international concepts were brought into being to meet this danger. The maintenance of these concepts was deemed indispensable if the plans prepared for the preservation of peace and security are to be effective.


The principle of non-intervention by one State in the affairs of another, in the field of inter-American relations, constitutes in itself a great advance achieved during the last decade; this principle was inspired by noble and just claims. We must maintain and affirm that [Page 194] principle whenever the need arises. It must, however, be harmonized with other principles the operation of which is of fundamental importance for the preservation of international peace and security.

First there is the principle which I have defined as the “parallelism between peace and democracy”. Second, there is the conviction acquired through tragic experience, that “peace is indivisible”, that is, that conflicts cannot be isolated or continue indefinitely, without serious danger, as centers of disturbance, in a world devoted to work and the pursuit of well-being. Such disturbance will, in the long run, be fatal to the peaceful world which we desire. Finally, there is the principle of the defense of the elementary human liberties—of the four freedoms of Roosevelt, of the minimum human liberties within a civilized continent—wherever they are notoriously and persistently infringed or ignored.

It is not difficult to harmonize such principles. “Non-intervention” cannot be converted into a right to invoke one principle in order to be able to violate all other principles with immunity. Therefore a multilateral collective action, exercised with complete unselfishness by all the other republics of the continent, aimed at achieving in a spirit of brotherly prudence the mere reestablishment of essential rights, and directed toward the fulfillment of freely contracted juridical obligations, must not be held to injure the government affected, but rather it must be recognized as being taken for the benefit of all, including the country which has been suffering under such a harsh regime.

It is pertinent to recall that when the principle of non-intervention was being most firmly defended and obtained its full recognition, multilateral action, exercised under the conditions and with the aims stated above, was not prohibited. That was the Uruguayan thesis at Habana in 1928.24 In 1933, at Montevideo,25 and at Buenos Aires, in 1936, it was clearly specified that it is the action of one state against another state, of one party against another, which is prohibited, the text of the two conferences emphasizing the individual, and therefore presumptively selfish, character of the action condemned. “It is declared that the intervention of any one of them in the affairs of another is inadmissible.” (Article 1 of the additional Protocol of 1936.26) “No state has the right to intervene in the internal or external affairs of another.” (Convention on Rights and Duties of States, Montevideo, December 1933.27)

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Principles to which the war has resorted all their vital force and whose operation is indispensable to the creation of a better world, do not conflict therefore with this rule [of non-intervention], and the latter would, in any event, remain unchanged.

The free and harmonious working of these principles must be effected on the basis that “non-intervention” is not a shield behind which crime may be perpetrated, law may be violated, agents and forces of the Axis may be sheltered, and binding obligations may be circumvented.

Otherwise, at the very time when, since Mexico and after San Francisco, we should be creating a new international and humanitarian conception, we would find ourselves tolerating a doctrine capable of frustrating and destroying that very conception.


The views set forth above are far from constituting an innovation. They respond to the demand of the peoples, the platforms of political parties, and to the judgment of those organizations and institutions which are devoted to the study of juridical and political problems. They echo the views of the free press, and the insistent plea of the young generations which do not wish to be defrauded again.

Its only novelty consists in being expressed in a diplomatic document, which many would prefer devoid of any sentiment, and in the fact that the need is stressed for transforming into realities—whenever circumstances require—oft repeated and proclaimed principles and standards.

These concepts, the observance of which, since the war, has acquired the nature of a “state of necessity” in the judgment of civilized man, have not come into being by chance, or in vain. The American Republics have, in this respect, a responsibility for leadership, which has been and must continue to be their role in the task of building a free and peaceful world. Our continent is today the hope of the peoples of the world for a better life. Pusillanimity or unenlightened selfishness may counsel a passive attitude, but the result would then be that the mission of the Americas would transform itself into that of making our continent a refuge for evil doctrines, practices, and interests and into a field favorable to their future rebirth.

This Ministry is certain that no people and no government of the continent wishes such a sad fate for America. And it is in this certainty that it takes the liberty of addressing itself to Your Chancellery, and submitting that, in view of notorious events, there is a need for a collective multilateral pronouncement,28 using for that purpose some of [Page 196] the means already counseled; either by means of an advisory committee (Comisión dictaminante) or by an express consultation, or by including the subject in the proposed Conference of Rio de Janeiro.

  1. Spanish text transmitted to the Department by the Ambassador in Uruguay (Dawson) in telegram 730, November 22, 1945 (835.00/11–2245). The note was also addressed to the Chiefs of Mission of the other American Republics.
  2. Translation supplied by the editors.
  3. Summarized in telegram 648, October 20, 1 p.m., from Montevideo, p. 185.
  4. For documentation on this Conference, see Foreign Relations, 1936, vol. v, pp. 3 ff.
  5. First Meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the American Republics, September 23–October 3, 1939. For documentation, see Foreign Relations, 1939, vol. v, pp. 15 ff.
  6. Second Meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the American Republics, July 21–30, 1940. For documentation, see ibid., 1940, vol. v, pp. 180 ff. For text of resolutions, see Department of State Bulletin, August 24, 1940, p. 127.
  7. Third Meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the American Republics, January 15–28, 1942. For documentation, see Foreign Relations, 1942, vol. v, pp. 6 ff. For text of resolutions, see Department of State Bulletin, February 7, 1942, p. 117.
  8. The Inter-American Conference on Problems of War and Peace, February–March, 1945. For documentation, see pp. 1 ff. For texts of resolutions, see Pan American Union, Final Act.
  9. United Nations Conference on International Organization, San Francisco, April–June, 1945. For documentation, see vol. i, pp. 1 ff.
  10. Department of State Treaty Series No. 993; 59 Stat. (pt. 2) 1031.
  11. The Sixth International Conference of American States; for documentation, see Foreign Relations, 1928, vol. i, pp. 527 ff.
  12. The Seventh International Conference of American States; for documentation, see ibid., 1933, vol. iv, pp. 1 ff.
  13. Department of State Treaty Series No. 923; 51 Stat. 41.
  14. Foreign Relations, 1933, vol. iv, pp. 214 ff.
  15. For a statement by the Secretary of State, November 27, 1945, expressing the unqualified adherence of the United States Government to the principles enunciated in this note, see Department of State Bulletin, December 2, 1945, p. 892.