811.0141 SW/12–2848

Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. Juan de Zengotita of the Division of Central America and Panama Affairs

Subject: Honduran Claim to Swan Islands

Participants: Señor Dr. Don Julián E. Cáceres, Ambassador of Honduras
Mr. Juan de Zengotita, CPA

The Ambassador called today at 12:30 and in Mr. Reid’s1 absence I received him. He presented a 54-page note2 replying to ours of August 12, 1940 (41 pages)3; both are on the subject of the sovereignty of the Swan Islands. The Ambassador explained that before leaving office President Carias4 wished once more to present Honduras’ case to us. The implication was that the President did not want it said that he had neglected his country’s interests. The Ambassador requested that we acknowledge receipt of the note before the end of the month, the President leaving office on December 31.

The Ambassador and I talked at some length on the subject, but we covered nothing substantive that is not already in the two notes under reference. I may remark that the Ambassador seemed to give great weight to the fact that he had found some antique authority who prescribed that discovery gave the right of ownership. (We had stated that not only modern authorities but even Grotius and Charles the I [Page 601]of Spain acknowledged that more than discovery is necessary to ownership.)

The Ambassador apologized for a certain amount of repetition in the note. He explained that half of it had been drafted in Honduras and half by him and because he wanted to get the note in to us quickly he had not had the time to eliminate repetitions.

  1. Gordon S. Reid, country specialist, Division of Central America and Panama Affairs.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Foreign Relations, 1940, vol. v, p. 927.
  4. Tiburcio Carias Andino, President of Honduras.