Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Special Inter-American Affairs (Dreier) to the Director of the Office of American Republic Affairs (Daniels)


In accordance with the suggestion in the second paragraph of your chit of January 16 to Mr. Walker of CRB,1 discussions have taken place between Ambassador Dawson and Messrs. Sanders, Dreier, Walker, Hauch, Post and Monsma2 concerning the possibilities of Inter-American collective action in regard to the state of friction in the Caribbean area.

There is general agreement that the situation is sufficiently serious to warrant collective action if present informal steps do not suffice, and that it would be desirable to utilize existing procedures in the Inter-American System for peaceful settlement of disputes in the present situation. Existing Inter-American peace instruments provide for good offices, mediation, investigation and report, conciliation, and arbitration.

The procedures best suited to the present Caribbean situation are those provided by the Gondra Treaty of May 3, 1923 as amplified by the General Convention of Inter-American Conciliation of January 5, 1929 and the Additional Protocol of December 26, 1933.3 These procedures consist of two stages; the first of which is carried on by a permanent diplomatic commission consisting either of the three diplomatic agents longest accredited to Washington or the three longest accredited to Montevideo. The Permanent Diplomatic Commission has the “post office function” of receiving the request for convocation of the Commission of Investigation and Conciliation, and notifying the other party thereof. It also has interim conciliatory functions either on its own motion when it appears that there is a prospect of disturbance of peaceful relations, or at the request of a party to the dispute. The second stage is a full-dress investigation and conciliation [Page 163]by the Commission of Investigation and Conciliation appointed by the parties to the dispute.

If the Gondra machinery were invoked in the case of the Caribbean situation, an adjustment could probably be effected at the first stage, as it is believed that neither party would welcome a full-dress investigation which might prove embarrassing to both countries. The Permanent Diplomatic Commission in Washington at the present time would be composed of the Ambassadors of Uruguay, Honduras, and Costa Rica, which would not be a particularly strong committee. The staff of the Pan American Union would probably act as the Secretariat which would be of considerable assistance to the Commission.

As to the tactics for setting the Gondra machinery in motion you might find it possible to discuss this with the Venezuelan Ambassador. In this connection, Dr. Lleras Camargo4 could probably be of some assistance, since he is an intimate personal friend of long-standing of the Venezuelan Ambassador. If the Venezuelan government should agree to take the initiative in invoking the Gondra machinery, it might be desirable to inform the Dominican Republic of the Venezuelan government’s intention to do so, so that the Dominicans could simultaneously request that the machinery be set in motion and thereby avoid any impression that one country was bringing the other to court.

An approach to the Venezuelans in the first instance would seem to be desirable since the Dominican Republic seems reluctant to take the initiative, but has indicated it would submit to Inter-American procedures if initiated by someone else. The Venezuelans might well be receptive to such a suggestion since President Betancourt recently stated that his government would be pleased to receive a UN or PAU commission of investigation.

You may wish to discuss this subject informally again with Dr. Lleras.

John C. Dreier
  1. See footnote 5, despatch 6, January 2, 1948, p. 155.
  2. William Sanders, Associate Chief, Division of International Organization Affairs; Richard H. Post, of the Division of North and West Coast Affairs; George N. Monsma, Acting Assistant Chief, Division of Special Inter-American Affairs.
  3. Department of State Treaty Series No. 752, or 44 Stat. 2527 on conflicts between American states; TS No. 780, or 56 Stat. 2209; and TS No. 887, or 49 Stat. 3185, respectively.
  4. Alberto Lleras Camargo, Secretary General of the OAS.