710 Consultation 4/9–847

Memorandum of Conversation, by the Chairman of the United States Delegation (Marshall)

Participants: Secretary Marshall
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Dr. Carlos Morales
Venezuelan Chargé d’Affaires Falcón-Briceño
Assistant Secretary Armour
Ambassador Dawson

In apartment of Dr. Morales, Hotel Quitandinha, August 20, 1947, 11:15 a.m.

After the customary preliminary exchanges, I told Dr. Morales that I was aware of his Government’s views concerning a distinction between extra-continental aggression and aggression from within and [Page 48] that I should, be glad to have the benefit of any comments he might wish to make.

Dr. Morales said that Venezuela had given up any intention of proposing the negotiation of two separate treaties but felt strongly that in the single treaty to be negotiated the distinction in question should be clearly drawn. He said that, as respects an extra-continental aggression, it must be presumed that the foreign country would be the aggressor and that all American republics should give immediate assistance. In the case of an intra-continental conflict, he feels that it might be difficult to determine who is the aggressor, that this should be left to the Governing Board of the Pan American Union or to some other organ to be established for the purpose, that it would be the duty of the appropriate organ to order the immediate suspension of hostilities and to examine the situation, and that sanctions would be applied against a party found to be an aggressor, provided efforts for peaceful settlement should fail. Dr. Morales referred to the Leticia incident between Colombia and Peru86 to illustrate his point, saying that although Colombia had invaded Peru it claimed that it had done so in view of Peruvian preparations to attack Colombia. He said that in such a ease the danger existed that some states might side with one party and others with the other.

I told Dr. Morales that we felt that no distinction should be made in the treaty for reasons set forth in an informal document (based on Mr. Dreier’s memorandum of August 19—USRio/Gen/1587), the text of which I handed him in English and Spanish. He put his finger immediately on point 2 of this document (distinction unnecessary since under Article 3 of our draft provisions for sanctions in no way impede prior resort to pacific settlement). He contended that in view of Article 51 of the United Nations Charter the distinction is necessary since under Article 51 the victim of aggression could call on its sister republics for immediate assistance as a matter of legitimate self-defense.

I told Dr. Morales that he had cited a specific case within his experience, that I had thought of something concrete within my own experience, and that, although I was thinking aloud without knowing the views of my associates, I had in mind the possible case of a revolution in an American republic inspired and abetted by a non-American state. I said that in reality this would constitute an extra-continental aggression and that in dealing with it considerable confusion might result if the distinction advocated by Venezuela were introduced in the treaty. Continuing, I said that after all the value [Page 49] of a treaty depends less on its terms than on the good faith of the parties (as evidenced by the Russo-German pact); and that even if we allowed for two or three exceptions we could count on the good faith and influence of the vast majority of the American republics to make our treaty work.

In taking leave of Dr. Morales, I thanked him for having set forth his ideas and told him that they had generated some new ideas in my own mind.

At one point in the interview, Dr. Falcón-Briceño explained that the Venezuelan views had been filed with the Secretariat of the Conference as “observations” and not as a formal proposal.

  1. For the position of the United States on this boundary dispute, see Foreign Relations, 1935, vol. iv, pp. 199217.
  2. Not printed.