The Chargé in Bolivia (Galbraith) to the Secretary of State

No. 1847

Sir: I have the honor to refer to recent communications between the Embassy and the Department concerning the proposed United States-Bolivian Bilateral Air Transport Agreement …

The Embassy would like to review for the information of the Department the confused course of the negotiations connected with the Bilateral which has taken place during the past month. On Monday, September 29th, Mr. Alvarado, Bolivian Subsecretary for Foreign Affairs, informed the Ambassador that his Government was prepared to sign our version of the Bilateral intact with the exception of the change of one word in Article 8. The Embassy received prompt telegraphic approval from the Department for this change, and it seemed on October 2nd that the Agreement could be and would be signed in La Paz early the following week. On October 2, the Ambassador forwarded to the Foreign Ministry his full powers to conclude the Agreement. However, on Friday, October 3, Mr. Alvarado informed two officers of the Embassy that the Bolivian Government desired to introduce a further change in the text of the Annex of the Agreement reducing the number of airports in Bolivia for international traffic from 12 to 6, which information was communicated to the Department by the Embassy’s telegram No. 858, of October 3.72 Mr. Alvarado reiterated at that point his desire that the Agreement be signed before the Ambassador’s departure from La Paz, then scheduled for October 14, and expressed his confidence that if the Embassy received prompt approval from Washington for the desired reduction in traffic points, the Agreement could be signed by October 8 or 9th.

[Page 375]

The reason why the Embassy had not been notified previously of this important change in the Agreement as desired by the Bolivian Government was apparently that the cabinet ministers in determining the Bolivian viewpoint during a meeting on September 27, had considered only the main part of the Agreement, but not the so-called technical points of the Annex (including the airports specified) as it was felt that the position on these latter points was the proper responsibility of Captain Germán Pol, Chief of Civil Aeronautics in the Ministry of Defense, who happened to be unavoidably absent from that meeting. It was apparently after Mr. Alvarado had informed the Ambassador on September 29 about his Government’s acceptance of our version of the Bilateral, that Captain Pol entered the scene to remind Mr. Alvarado that the “technical” viewpoint of the Bolivian Government as had been previously brought out, was that a reduction was necessary in the 12 airports specified in the United States proposal. Mr. Alvarado then agreed to this viewpoint, and informed the Embassy accordingly on October 3, as related above.

Then, on October 6th, an official of the Foreign Office notified an officer of the Embassy that he, Mr. Alvarado, and others were at the moment going over our Spanish text of the Bilateral, and that the presence of the Embassy officer was desired so that the Bolivian officials might ascertain our point of view on some changes that they were introducing into the above-mentioned Spanish text. What happened in that meeting is described in the enclosed memorandum73 prepared by the officer concerned. It seemed apparent that this meeting represented the first occasion on which the necessary responsible officials in the Bolivian Government were going over our proposed text for the Bilateral in a careful and coordinative fashion. As a result of the meeting, the Embassy was presented on the following day with a revised text in Spanish representing the Bolivian proposed version of the Bilateral. Although the Foreign Office maintained that (except for the matter of the traffic points) this text was in general different from ours only in the matter of grammar and ways of expression, the Embassy detected a number of points where, in its opinion, there was a clear difference in meaning and in substance. Subsequent meetings were held between an officer of the Embassy and officials of the Foreign Office in an attempt to reconcile these differences between ours and their versions of the Spanish text, or, more important, between the meaning of our English text and of their Spanish text, as a result of which the Foreign Office agreed to make several changes in their Spanish text so as to bring it into closer harmony with ours.

On October 9, the Embassy received the Department’s telegram [Page 376] No. 540 of the same date,74 stating the Department’s unwillingness to conclude the Agreement unless all twelve traffic points were included. The Ambassador informed Mr. Alvarado of this development on the next day, stating that although an impasse had apparently been reached at this late date, he would be glad to take up personally this matter of the traffic points with the Department while he was in Washington, with a view to effecting, if possible, a conciliation of the Bolivian and United States viewpoints. Mr. Alvarado agreed with this procedure, and stated that he was confident that such a conciliation could be attained and that the Agreement could be concluded upon the Ambassador’s return to Bolivia early in 1948.

The Embassy has the impression that as the Bolivian Government has already given in in our favor on most of the points of difference in the text of the Bilateral, that Government now more or less feels it a point of national honor and pride to stand up for its desired reduction in traffic points, so that on one point at least it may effect a concession in its behalf on the part of the United States Government.

. . . . . . .

The Embassy would therefore appreciate receiving from the Department its final position on the texts of the Bilateral Agreement as submitted herewith, including what specific changes, if any, must be introduced before the United States Government is willing to sign the Agreement. It is believed that after the Ambassador, who is now en route to the United States, has had a chance to discuss personally with the Department the remaining differences between the Bolivian and United States texts, the Department will be able to state a final position which will lead promptly either to the signing of the Agreement or to the definite termination of negotiations. If the present Bolivian counterdraft meets with the Department’s approval, it was the Ambassador’s recommendation that full powers be telegraphed to the Chief of the Mission enabling him to sign the Agreement.

Respectfully yours,

Willard Galbraith
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