HC Deb 19 December 1928 vol 223 cc3033-5W

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he is in a position to make any statement in respect to the situation between Bolivia and Paraguay?


Since the answer which I returned on Monday to a question by the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) there has been further correspondence between Monsieur Briand, the President of the League Council, and the Bolivian and Paraguayan Governments. This correspondence, which shows the present position, is appended. I may add that the Pan-American Arbitration Conference now in session at Washington has formally offered its good offices in settling the dispute. For this purpose a special committee has been appointed by the Conference to act on its behalf. Both Paraguay and Bolivia have accepted the good offices of the Conference, the Bolivian Government adding that they consider it essential that the origin of the present conflict should be investigated.

Following is the text:

The President of the Council received yesterday (16th December) the following telegram from the Bolivian Government:

"In the communication which I had the honour to make to you on 14th December I had occasion to inform you that as a result of the act of aggression perpetrated against her by Paraguay, Bolivia was obliged to take military measures for her own protection. Furthermore, owing to the fact that Paraguay was concentrating troops at points where the lines are very close to each other and where there is actual contact between them, and that the Paraguayan general staff has also seen fit to take measures, it is natural to expect that new conflicts will take place. In view of this probability it was my Government's duty to be prepared. Unfortunately these fears have now been justified. According to despatches received from the officer commanding the military zone, new detachments of Paraguayan troops were preparing an attack on Bolivian forts, which fact has occasioned new engagements as a result of which the Paraguayans have been driven back and Fort Roquerin has been occupied by our troops. This fort was recently constructed by Paraguay in a section of territory to which Bolivia has incontestable rights. In conformity with its international obligations my Government has hastened to inform the Council of the League of Nations of this new incident which was the natural development of the attack launched against us last week. Paraguay is now declared guilty of violating the most formal international pacts and of neglecting the duties incumbent upon every civilised nation in respect of the maintenance of peace."

The President immediately despatched the following telegrams to the two Governments:

To the Bolivian Government:

"I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your telegram of 15th December which must no doubt have been despatched from La Paz before the receipt of the telegram which I addressed to Your Excellency in the name of the Council on that day. The facts which you bring to my notice in this telegram illustrate all the more clearly the dangers to peace which arise from the contact upon the frontier of the military forces of the two countries, and the urgency, to which the Council called your attention, of taking the requisite measures to avoid the occurrence of new incidents which might compromise the success of any pacific line of procedure. I permit myself to emphasise once more the suggestions made to you by the Council after the solemn assurances which your Government gave that it would respect the obligations imposed by the pact.—Briand, Acting President of the Council."

To the Paraguayan Government:

"I have the honour to transmit to Your Excellency the following communication which I have received from the Bolivian Government." [Here follows the text of the above-quoted telegram from the Bolivian Government.] "The facts which are brought to my notice in this telegram illustrate. …." [Continue as in the above-cited telegram to the Bolivian Government.]

The President of the Council received yesterday (18th) from the Bolivian Government the following telegram:

"I have the honour to refer to your telegram of the 16th instant in which Your Excellency renewed, in the name of the Council, your recommendations for the avoidance of new incidents susceptible of compromising the success of pacific procedure in the dispute between Bolivia and the Republic of Paraguay. My Government, in welcoming these suggestions, assures Your Excellency that it has ordered its officers commanding military posts to abstain, as far as they are concerned, from all advance or attack and to limit themselves to taking defensive measures. I request the Council to take note that Paraguay has decreed the mobilisation of classes between 18 and 38 years of age. Bolivia is confining herself to the precautionary measures indispensable for her security."