710 Consultation 4/9–847

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

Participants: Dr. Federico Chaves, Minister of Foreign Relations of Paraguay
Secretary Marshall
Major Vernon A. Walters

At Hotel Quitandinha, August 26, at 12 noon.

After the customary exchange of greetings, Dr. Chaves speaking vehemently, stated to me that the Paraguayan civil war had been won by President Morínigo supported by the National Republican or “Colorado” party, of which he was a member. He stated that this was [Page 66] a democratic party and that for 43 years it had opposed all forms of dictatorship, both as an opposition party and now as a member of the Government. This party had always been a close friend and supporter of the United States even in the dark days of Pearl Harbor and had published many manifestos and declarations to that effect. He stated that the recent civil war had been due to the corruption of the military and their desire to interfere in politics. He added that this was the cancer of South America and that his Government was thinking of closing the military academy and sending some 40 cadets a year to the United States for military training, as this would imbue them with democratic ideas. I replied, speaking of the relations between civil and military authorities in the U.S., explaining how the military are subordinate to civil authority and interference in politics is out of the question. I pointed out that in the U.S. the military are completely dependent on the Congress for the appropriations of funds for the armed forces. I spoke of several occasions during the war when I had to go before Congress and justify expenditures. I stated that I felt that merely sending the 40 cadets to the United States would not solve his problem alone, as upon graduation a cadet sometimes feels he is a great man but that when he goes to a unit where he is the junior officer and has the most obnoxious tasks to perform, this tends to normalize his perspective, and that in the case of the Paraguayan cadets this would not occur and they would not get a correct picture of civil-military relationship in the United States where the military were unquestionably subordinate to the civil authority, as is very much the case in Great Britain. I stated that the subordination of military to civil power depended upon legislative determination of funds, salaries, numbers and rank, coupled with requirement for military leaders to personally justify their proposals before committees of legislature. I suggested that they undertake an educational program within the army by requiring officers to teach every soldier to read and write, by giving them some technical knowledge which would make them valuable citizens and would also avoid the army’s being a dead weight on the public economy.

Dr. Chaves replied thanking me and stated that the last two ambassadors could testify to his friendship to the U.S. He was a close friend of Mr. Trueblood, the present Chargé d’Affaires, who had been an eye witness to the recent civil war. He stated that he understood that Mr. Trueblood was shortly to be transferred upon the arrival of the new Ambassador.8 Without wishing to interfere, he stated that it would be unfortunate especially if Mr. Trueblood were to leave before he had time to thoroughly orient the new Ambassador. He expressed [Page 67] the hope that the United States would continue to help them in the fields of public health, economy, and military training. He stated that they were considering turning over the National University and their secondary schools, which he said were infiltrated with Communism, to Americans for reorganization.

Dr. Chaves spoke at length concerning the danger which he felt the Communist Party presented in South America. He felt that if it were authorized to continue as a political organization it would provide a nucleus of traitors in each country far more dangerous than the Fifth Column which was largely composed of foreign elements, whereas this nucleus would consist of nationals of the country, and that such nuclei would be extremely dangerous should hostilities occur between the “totalitarian East” and “democratic West”. He stated that in any such contingencies Paraguay would unreservedly stand by the U.S. and added a final remark, “100,000 Paraguayans could do a great deal”.

  1. Fletcher Warren.