Memorandum of Conversation, by the Ambassador in Paraguay (Warren)1


I saw Dr. César A. Vasconsellos, Minister for Foreign Affairs by appointment at 11 o’clock this morning in his office. It was the first time I had talked with him for any length since his return from the Bogota Conference.2 We talked for some thirty minutes. He was more the Foreign Minister than at any time heretofore. He was in fine form and appeared to speak with entire frankness. He told me:

(1) During the Bogota Conference he had become well acquainted with all the American Delegation. He had known Ambassador Beaulac [Page 702] during Mr. Beaulac’s service as Ambassador in Asuncion. From what he told me I would judge that he had much to do with Ambassador Daniels. He spoke with satisfaction of an hour long conversation which he had with General Marshall. He said that they discussed thoroughly many matters.

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(5) In speaking of his conversation with General Marshall, Vasconsellos related to me the basis of the Paraguayan foreign policy. My impression is that he had made the same statement to General Marshall. At any rate, this is the substance of his remarks on that subject: Paraguay finds herself a mediterranean country linked by closest ties with Argentina. She knows how weak she is vis-à-vis that country. She fears the effort of Argentina to create an austral hegemony. In this situation all matters touching the two countries will fall into two classes; namely, those of primary importance and those of secondary importance. In any matter of secondary importance Paraguay, because of her weakness, as already mentioned, will try to go along with any specific Argentine desire. She will not oppose Argentina in such a matter. In anything of basic or primary importance she will stand for what she thinks is right and hope that patience will enable her to meet the consequences. She will not give in on a matter of primary importance. In view of this policy he foresees that in important matters Paraguay will be able to support American proposals while, in matters of secondary importance she will only be standing with the United States when our position and the Argentine position are the same. He illustrated this by saying that the question of American colonies today is “inoperable.” In that case I take it Paraguay will support the Argentine position since he emphasized that it is not an important matter.

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(9) ... General Marshall, when Vasconsellos finished, inquired whether the Paraguayans were developing additional means of communication to the outside world. Vasconsellos said that it was possible and that Brazil is actually engaged upon the construction of a railroad that will connect Concepción on the Paraguay River with Santos on the Atlantic coast of Brazil. General Marshall inquired how much remained to be built and Vasconsellos stated the figure. He said that General Marshall added that that distance could be constructed in less than a year. Vasconsellos said that he agreed but that Paraguay would need assistance. He said that the United States could help by granting permission for the export of certain materials and supplies which Paraguay otherwise could not get. It was in connection with the railroad that Dr. Vasconsellos told me how he had explained to [Page 703] General Marshall Paraguay’s need for assistance from the United States. When he learned from General Marshall that it was not necessary to wait for the General’s return in order to discuss Paraguay’s need in the United States and to begin negotiations there, he sent Admiral Martino the following day to begin negotiations. He added that Admiral Martino is now at work in the United States.

My part of the conversation today was that of an attentive listener. I expressed pleasure in Dr. Vasconsellos’ return to duty in Asuncion, declared my satisfaction with the publication of articles regarding the Bogotá Conference which are now appearing in Asuncion newspapers, and assured him that I would immediately communicate with the Department regarding the invitation for President-elect González.3 Other than this my contribution was an occasional word or nod to keep the conversation going.

  1. Copy transmitted to the Department by Ambassador Warren in despatch 257, May 13, 1948, not printed.
  2. For documentation on the Ninth International Conference of American States, held at Bogota, Colombia, March 30–May 2, 1948, see pp. 1 ff.
  3. J. Natalicio González, who was elected in February, assumed the presidency on August 15, 1948.