Memorandum of Conversation, by the Chief of the Division of Central America and Panama Affairs (Barber)

Participants: Mr. F. R. Hoyer Millar, Minister, British Embassy
Mr. Paul C. Daniels, Director, ARA
Mr. Willard F. Barber, Chief, CPA

Mr. Hoyer Millar called today at his request to inform the Department of the latest developments regarding the Belize controversy. He left with Mr. Daniels a copy of the note delivered by the British Minister to the Guatemalan Foreign Office on October 26.1 He particularly directed attention to the last paragraph which reads as follows: “In informing Your Excellency of the above I have the honour to add that His Majesty’s Government would be prepared, if once the legal issue were settled by the International Court in the appropriate way, to do their best, whatever the decision of the Court might be, to dispose of any outstanding problems with Guatemala on a friendly basis.” (The preceding four paragraphs stated that the British Government is willing to submit the dispute to the World Court but did not wish to have the problem submitted to mediation by the United States Government.)

There ensued a brief discussion as to a procedure which might be used in order to arrive at a basis for submission of the whole question to the World Court for determination there. Mr. Daniels expressed the hope that the British Foreign Office could study the question on the basis of terms of reference which would submit simultaneously for the Court’s consideration the strictly legal and treaty issues involved as well as the ex aequo et bono principles to which the Guatemalan Government attaches such great importance. While reiterating the British Government’s position that it could not think of turning over any territory to another power except on a strictly legal basis, Mr. Hoyer Millar said that he would request London to do some more thinking along the lines of Mr. Daniels’ suggestion.

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Mr. Hoyer Millar also read excerpts from a press statement which he said had been issued by the Guatemalan Government in a matter of hours after the receipt of the British note. He felt that it was a coincidence, and an unfortunate one that this happened to be the time when the annual visit was paid to all Caribbean ports (except British Guiana) by units of the British West Indies fleet. A cruiser and a destroyer are scheduled to visit Belize from November 5–9. Mr. Hoyer Millar added that no matter how categoric a statement that there was no connection between the delivery of the Belize note and the visit of the cruisers, the Guatemalans would probably be alarmed. He hoped that the State Department could put a damper on any such alarms which were, he said, to be deplored.

Mr. Daniels and Mr. Barber referred to the possibility that publicity arising out of the visit of the ships might induce one or two South American Governments to appoint delegates to the Havana Committee on European Colonies.2 (At the moment the required number of fourteen designations has not yet been reached). Mr. Hoyer Millar said that the naval visits had been planned for a long time; that there was no connection with the Belize mediation note; that he hoped it would not have an effect on the Colonies Committee; but that in any event he would inform London of that possibility.

Mr. Hoyer Millar made brief reference to a recent Guatemalan Government decree pertaining to schools and school books which should teach that the Belize area forms an integral part of the Guatemalan nation. A copy, in translation, of a newspaper article published on October 15, was left with Mr. Daniels.

  1. For resolution XXXIII of the final act, Bogotá Conference on the subject of European colonies in America, see the report of the United States Delegation on the Conference, Department of State Publication No. 3263, p. 268. This resolution, based on the original Guatemala project, provided for establishment of the American Committee on Dependent Territories to study the situation and problems of each of the American territories under non-American control; the Committee was to meet in Habana, as soon as 14 members had been appointed.
  2. None printed.