The Bolivian claim presented before the League of Nations allowed the Department of State to give further attention to the process of seeking a solution to the question of Tacna and Arica. It helped Peru in a similar fashion by raising US public opinion and thus forcing Chile to comply with Article III of the Treaty of Ancon. This article stipulated that Chile’s occupation of Tacna and Arica was provisional and should be resolved through a plebiscite to decide the question of sovereignty in that region.

Peru was trying to get American arbitration in 1921, but Chile decided to put an end to the conflict through the implementation of a plebiscite. A cable containing such a proposal was sent directly to the Peruvian Foreign Minister expressing Chile's intention of friendly compliance with the Huneus-Varela Protocol of 1912. Minister Salomon answered immediately by pointing out Peru's wishes to submit the question of Tacna and Arica for arbitration to the United States. In this manner he felt that the dispute might be resolved in harmony with established principles which were paramount for world peace and justice.

Peruvian Ambassador F. Pezet visited US Secretary of State Charles Hughes to inform him of Peru's surprise regarding the Chilean proposal for a plebiscite, an act he believed not to be in good faith. Subsequently, Pezet sent the State Department a copy of the cable sent by Salomon to Barros. He observed that Peru's posture was based on the legal position adopted by Chile before the League of Nations regarding Bolivia, and stressed that the controversy in question was a "political problem of the Americas" that should be solved solely within the established diplomatic machinery of our continent. (1)

Chile made a counterproposal, insisting on a definition of the basis for the plebiscite, but did not reject arbitration. The American Chargé d'Affairs in Lima, Mr. Sterling, informed Mr. Hughes that this counterproposal should not be interpreted in a positive manner since it did not reject outright US arbitration. He added that Bolivia had begun to make contacts in Lima and Santiago favoring his intervention in the talks. The Chargé d'Affairs judged that Bolivia was supporting American arbitration on condition that it would take place within one year. If not, he felt that Bolivia would insist on the need to call a conference with the participation of the three interested countries under the leadership and, with the mediation of the United States, to secure a just arrangement for all concerned. Mr. Sterling pointed out lastly that Lima was concerned that the Bolivian petition would further complicate the chances for an agreement. (2)

The minister of foreign affairs of Bolivia explained to the American secretary of state the Bolivian position concerning the dispute in the Pacific. Immediately after the Bolivian petition, Chile rejected it and asserted that such a petition had the effect of Bolivian diplomatic interference in the efforts for rapprochement between Chile and Peru. The Peruvian chancellor answered Bolivia by stating that a categorical Chilean rejection prevented Peru from considering that petition, but still expressing the best wishes of his country for a favorable solution to the Bolivian claim presented to Chile.


The Washington Conference

Early in 1922 Mr. Hughes sent instructions to the American ambassador in Lima to probe for the chances of success if the president of the United States was to send an invitation to both governments to a meeting in Washington to exchange views about arbitration and other solutions tending to overcome the existing differences blocking the application of the Treaty of Ancon. Mr. Hughes' instructions noted that the chance for a successful arbitration was indeed dependent on it being accepted by both countries, and that such arbitration would not seek to modify the existing treaty but, instead, to complement it. (3)

Consequently, President Warren G. Harding sent an official invitation to both governments to meet at a conference in Washington. Both countries accepted the invitation the following day. (4) The Bolivian president Mr. Bautista Saavedra sent a message dated January 20 to President Harding. Among other things, the message stated:


"Although the dispute in which the republics of Peru and Chile are involved, and to the termination of which your excellency wishes efficaciously to contribute, seems to be confined to the disagreement over the non-fulfillment of the so-called Treaty of Ancon, it cannot be overlooked that it concerns Bolivia, for my country was indeed a victim of the conflict of the Pacific and there can be no fair, no final solution until reparation is made for the loss of her maritime territory. The pact of Ancon having delivered to Chile the whole of the southern coast of Peru, placed the conqueror in a position where it would not yield any part of the Bolivian coast, so as not to break the continuity in its conquest toward the north.

My country's insistent protests have been answered by the Republic of Chile invoking the test of the treaty of October 20, 1904, by which Bolivia transferred to it the sovereignty over her whole coast. But the Treaty of 1904 was not a free, spontaneous act. There is no people, no matter how unfortunate, who will cripple its own sovereignty, who will of its own free will, give up exchange with the other peoples of the civilized globe through the vehicle of all human commerce: the ocean. The pact of 1904 was the outcome of a war unjust in origin and unequal in progress.

A treaty of that nature merely attests an actual state or condition, not an undisputed right of a freely accepted balance. And because Bolivian sovereignty was injured and mutilated by the pact of 1904, immediately after its signature my country raised the banner of vindication for its maritime dependencies without which it cannot either live as an independent nation, or work out its destinies with dignity."

And the message concluded with the following appeal from the Bolivian president to the American president:

"And this is why I appeal, at this moment, to your excellency, and ask you in the name of the Bolivian people that in the hearing given to the dispute that Peru and Chile wish to submit to you, you will listen to the claims of Bolivia, and call my country so that it may be considered as a constituent part in solving the case of the Pacific."

After extensive consultations with his ambassadors in Santiago and Lima, the American president answered President Saavedra:

"In reply, I beg to explain to your excellency that the invitation which I had the honor to address to the governments of Peru and Chile does not contemplate a hearing before me or before the government of the United States, of the matters in controversy between those two governments... Your excellency will readily understand from the foregoing that the inclusion of Bolivia in the discussions of the questions at issue between the governments of Peru and Chile is a matter for the exclusive consideration of the two governments concerned, and that in the circumstances, I am precluded from taking the initiative you suggest." (5)

In the meantime, Ambassador Jesse S. Cottrell sent from La Paz to the secretary of state a message to inform him:

"If present negotiations turn into a process of arbitration to draw a final permanent border between Chile and Peru, it would be advisable to adopt provisions, whenever possible and before the end of that process, for the adjudication of a territorial strip to Bolivia so that this country might have access to a suitable maritime port. If the whole of the coastal area were divided between Chile and Peru, neither one would later be eager to reopen the question in favor of Bolivia unless separate negotiations were conducted for the sale of a port to Bolivia at the highest possible price." (6)

The American ambassador in Santiago, Mr. Coullier, after an extensive review of the political and historical aspects of the Bolivian situation, suggested:

"Tacna and Arica have a mere sentimental value for Peru. They would not contribute to Peruvian wealth nor would they serve as an outlet for Peruvian products or as a strategic outpost. Peru simply wished to retain them because they were once part of its territory and Peruvian people once died in their defense. On Chile's part, the "Chilean General Yearbook" (Anuario General de Chile) stated that Tacna province had, no agricultural or mining relevance for them and that it had only strategic importance as a buffer zone for Tarapaca’s defense. In addition, Arica had progressed swiftly after Chile's construction of the railroad from La Paz to the Chilean capital."

Mr. Coullier added further that:

"The Chileans reject the allegation that they wised to retain Arica in order to keep control over that railroad terminal and thus dominate Bolivian trade, but I myself believe that such is the motive of their actions. Bolivia was seeking for ways to have sovereignty over Arica in order to maintain a port under its own control; it did not wish to have the whole province of Tacna but simply to obtain a corridor from the Andes down to Arica under Bolivian sovereignty." (7)

Subsequently, on May 24 Ambassador Cottrell sent a new petition of the Bolivian government, stating that:

"Bolivia considered that the question for debate in Washington was relevant for the three participants in the War of the Pacific and that a final and lasting arrangement would only be possible with the participation of the three concerned countries."

The secretary of state refused to consider the Bolivian petition because he regarded the Washington talks between Peru and Chile as being only relevant in connection with the problems arising from the application of the Treaty of Ancon, of which those two countries were the only signatories. (9)

One third of the American Senate, lead by George Pepper, chairman of the Banking Affairs Committee, as well as representatives in the House under the initiative of William Oldfield, Representative from Arkansas and chairman of the Proceedings Commission, urged the US administration that in its consideration of the existing problems in South America, it gave maximum priority to the achievement of a lasting peace, which would not be possible unless the Republic of Bolivia was given a port on the Pacific. In answering Congress, Secretary Hughes stressed that the American government was not a participant in the conference in Washington but only its host, and that the only participants represented in this conference were Peru and Chile. He further stated that territorial rights claimed by Bolivia and neighboring countries could only he discussed through direct talks between those governments concerned.(10)

After an abundant exchange of notes between the delegations of Peru and Chile, an agreement was reached with Hughes' participation in the signing of the arbitration protocol on July 2Oth. This protocol established that: "i) the only existing obstacle interposed between both countries resulted from non-compliance with one of the stipulations of the Treaty of Ancon; 2) the question of compliance would be dependent on the president of the United States in his function as arbiter to decide the dispute; and, 3) the plebiscite would depend on whether or not prevailing circumstances would permit its celebration as stated in an annex to the protocol.

Chilean acceptance of the arbitration was considered a victory in Peru, while in Chile the protocol was the subject of heavy debate, and a large sector of public opinion considered Bolivia’s exclusion a mistake. It must be noted, however, that Bolivia’s exclusion resulted from the Chilean government’s own initiative with the tacit approval of Peru. (13)

In March 1923 the ambassadors of Chile and Peru set their conditions and deadlines for the presentation of their case for arbitration. The Peruvian presentation can be summarized as follows: l) that Chile had delayed the plebiscite originally set to take place in 1894; 2) that Chile, by displacing part of the Peruvian population from Arica - 80 percent of the total population in 1894 -had lost their rights to call a plebiscite; and 3) that Chile had been in possession of Tacna and Arica only provisionally and Peru consequently asked the arbiter to order that these territories be returned to Peru.

Chile's presentation to the arbiter consisted merely in emphasizing that arbitration was limited to consideration of Article III of the Treaty of Ancon and should not get involved in considering all questions arising from the War of the Pacific. Therefore, if the Arbiter were to confirm the call for a plebiscite, he must also determine how it should be carried out.

There was a delay in reaching a decision in the arbitration because of President Harding's death. However, the Department of State, still under Secretary Hughes, prepared an arbitral decision made public by President Coolidge on March 4, 1925. The arbitral decision determined that the plebiscite should take place and established the basis for its fulfillment. (14)


Bolivia asks the United States to act on

its behalf in a mission of goodwill with Chile

The new Bolivian envoy, Mr. Jaimes Freyre, traveled to Washington to ask the United States to intercede in a mission of goodwill with Chile. Freyre subsequently met with Secretary of State Charles Hughes on May 5th and presented the Bolivian request within the framework of the Latin American situation. Mr. Hughes stated that the US would be able to act in a mission of goodwill only if the two sides requested it, but that in fact Chile was opposed to it. Freyre suggested then that the American president invite the presidents of Bolivia and Chile to meet and resolve their differences. He pointed out that Bolivia was ready to accept such an invitation immediately and hoped that Chile would accept this opportunity to bring about a solution to this question. Mr. Hughes answered that the United States had formerly conveyed that invitation at the request of both countries, but insisted that his country could not interfere with its own proposals and limited itself to serve as a host of such conference. (15)


From the Thwarted Plebiscite to the Kellogg Proposal

President Coolidge named a commission-headed by General John Pershing to deal with the question of the plebiscite. The commission started meeting in Arica on August 5 to examine the Chilean position and Peruvian claims regarding alleged Chilean intimidation of the Peruvian population and other similar acts that prevented an easy preparation of the plebiscite. (16)

General Pershing concluded by the end of August that it would be better to seek a diplomat arrangement to the dispute than to insist on the plebiscite. He consulted Chilean representatives in private to find out if they could reach an agreement with Peru to give Tacna and Arica to Bolivia. Chile pointed out that it could neither make such an agreement on their own initiative nor accept it as a result of an agreement among the three countries; nevertheless, it could leave the door open for another foreign country to introduce the idea while it would keep insisting on giving priority to the plebiscite. For Chile this plebiscite had turned into an act of national pride, to the point that President Alessandri warned Pershing that he would have to commit suicide if the plebiscite did not take place. (17)

Because General Pershing found so much opposition to the plebiscite and hesitated so much in making provisions for its fulfillment, the Chilean government finally opted to agree to a diplomatic arrangement that obviated the need of a plebiscite. Chancellor Barros told Ambassador Collier that the best chance to reach's diplomatic arrangement would be to divide the territory, giving Peru the northern areas, including the city of Arica. Chile would then declare neutrality for the whole of Arica province and would grant a status of free port to the city for the use of Bolivia and Peru; at the same time, Chile would give international status to the railroad connecting Arica and La Paz.

Secretary of State Kellogg was convinced that any arrangement would be better than a plebiscite, but he feared Peru's insistence of the latter. Kellogg had receive information that Leguía was sure of victory in the plebiscite and thus hoped to cause Chile a moral defeat. With that in mind Kellogg declined to make the proposal for the plebiscite and suggested that Chile show its sincerity toward reaching an agreement by itself proposing a diplomatic solution.

Collier informed Kellogg that in addition to the Chilean government, some personalities and powerful circles in Chile were in favor of a direct diplomatic arrangement for the partition of the territories or the sale of part of them to Bolivia under political and financial US guarantees. Coullier included in those groups the Chilean president elect, Mr. Figueroa. He added that after serious analysis of the problems involved he was convinced that the peoples of Peru and Chile could never live in friendly harmony if both countries rejected the partition of Tacna and Arica that would also include a territorial cession to Bolivia. One should keep in mind that when Chile wanted the plebiscite, Peru insisted solely in the return of the territories. Later, when Chile accepted negotiations instead of plebiscite, Peru on the contrary, desired to have the plebiscite implemented. (18)

Collier transmitted by mid-December a long communiqué to the secretary of state with his appraisal of the question of Bolivia. He indicated that the Bolivian Chargé d’Affairs Salinas Lozada had departed from Santiago full of optimism in view of Chile's serious predicament because of the very high probability that it might lose the plebiscite. Mr. Collier reported that Mr. Salinas Lozada had entrusted him with the information that the Chilean president elect, Mr. Figueroa, previously told him that Chile would have no other choice but to cede Tacna to Peru and Arica to Bolivia. Collier submitted to Kellogg the petition of Salinas Lozada for approaching the foreign ministries of Uruguay or Brazil in order to find out through them the real position that president elect Figueroa would take on this case. If what Mr. Figueroa told Mr. Salinas Lozada was true, the United States might use the good offices of Uruguay to submit that proposal to Peru with the confirmation of Chile's acceptance, since Peru would certainly reject it without Chile's concurrence. In addition, the Bolivian Chargé d’affairs let Collier know that his country could not agree to granting Chile territorial compensation in exchange for Arica, but that trade concessions could perhaps be considered.

By the beginning of 1926, Secretary Kellogg sent instructions to his ambassador in Lima, Mr. Poindexter, announcing that he had information suggesting that the Chilean government was preparing to enter into a peaceful arrangement involving some sort of compromise in lieu of the plebiscite, and that Chile would agree to the problem's total solution with Bolivia's participation. Kellogg summarized some important points contained in Collier's mail on this question and asked Poindexter for information on the position that the Peruvian president would take accordingly. He indicated that Argentina and Uruguay were especially predisposed to cooperate in this matter to achieve a friendly arrangement to do away with the plebiscite and thus preserve US prestige. Kellogg adopted that view since he considered that the United States in its arbitration role could not offer other alternatives to the plebiscite solution.

Within such a line of action, the American ambassador in Montevideo, Mr. Grant-Smith, reported to Kellogg that the Uruguayan foreign minister planned to hold consultations with his Argentinean counterpart on the chance that a group of countries including Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay would invite Chile and Peru to put an end to arbitration and reach a compromise. In this respect an announcement on the official position of Secretary Kellogg was required.

In addition, the American ambassador in Montevideo informed Kellogg that he had been told by his Brazilian colleague of the Brazilian opposition, for the moment, to any solution to the question of Tacna and Arica that would contemplate granting Bolivia access to the Pacific Ocean. Brazil's primary interest was in channeling Bolivian trade through a port on the Atlantic Ocean, which would use railroad connections that Brazil was under obligation to build as a result of a previous bilateral agreement. (19)

By this time General Pershing had resigned his position as chairman of the plebiscite commission because of a serious illness and his inability to bring about the plebiscite. He was replaced at once by General William Lassiter, commander of the American Army in the Panama Canal Zone.

Further problems arose in February 1926 that prompted General Lassiter to ask Kellogg for US cancellation of the plebiscite proposal. He also recommended that a public announcement be issued making Chile responsible for interference thus preventing the plebiscite from taking place.

The new Chilean chancellor, Mr. Mathieu, then called Ambassador Collier to let him know that his government was ready to agree to the immediate transfer of Tacna to Peru, but that for the time being they could not transfer Arica to Bolivia. However, as soon as Chile had legalized its sovereignty over the region they would be in a position to enter into negotiations with Bolivia for the cession of a port in exchange for adequate compensation and additional trade privileges. Collier consulted him about the convenience of inviting Bolivia to participate in the process towards solution of the question of Tacna and Arica, but Mathieu refused on the grounds that such a move would certainly make negotiations with Peru even more complex. Collier then consulted him on whether Chile would accept to give Bolivia a corridor 10 kilometers wide parallel to the railroad from Arica to La Paz, which would be five kilometers wide on each side of the tracks. Chancellor Mathieu answered that they might consider such a proposal if the larger part of Arica remained in Chilean hands. (20)

On May 22 the ambassador of Argentina in Washington asked the secretary of state for an appointment in order to express his views on the need to secure peace in the region. He told the secretary of state that after conversations held with the representatives of Bolivia, Chile and Peru in Washington, he was of the opinion that a compromised solution must be explored which would grant the required territories and allow Bolivia to recover its access to the Pacific Ocean. Bolivia should in exchange offer territorial compensation both to Peru and Chile. In case of US agreement with the proposal, Argentina would make it official. (21)

Considering the total paralysis afflicting the process for the plebiscite, Secretary Kellogg, with advice from Mr. Lassiter and from former Secretary Hughes, offered his good offices to Peru and Chile to try for another solution to the dispute. As a first measure he suggested that Tacna and Arica be declared neutral and free trade zones, with autonomous and local governments. These governments would be presided over by a triumvirate with independent jurisdiction over the judiciary, law enforcement and customs administration. Peru, Chile and Bolivia would then design a trusteeship system for the arbitration of internal disputes concerning these territories. (22)

At the beginning of April, Ambassador Collier reported to Secretary Kellogg on a statement made to the press by the Chilean foreign minister in the following terms:

"The good offices effort is limited to the existing differences between Chile and Peru. The question to obtain a friendly arrangement with Bolivia is the main subject of amiable talks between the government of Bolivia and the Chilean Ambassador in La Paz."

Ambassador Collier added that the Chilean foreign minister, to secure friendship and gratitude from Bolivia, wished, to reach a further agreement giving the latter a port in exchange for tangible compensation to Chile. For these reasons, Chile opposed the plan or the proposal for neutralization as advanced by Kellogg. (26)

Kellogg reported to Collier on April 10 about Lassiter's interview with Edwards in Arica. The latter expressed his conviction that Chile was certain of victory in the plebiscite and that it would later consider doing something in favor of Bolivia. Kellogg added information on his interview with Chilean Ambassador Cruchaga, who announced that a Chilean proposal including Bolivia was to be expected shortly thereafter. (27)

Cottrell informed Kellogg from La Paz about the invitation he received for a hearing from the new foreign minister, Mr. Alberto Gutierrez. The Minister told him that as he took office, he had considered several ideas on how to get access to the sea through the port of Arica, and that he no longer wished to invoke former historical allegations to support his proposal, but instead have both sides consider a direct sale of the territory.

In this respect, he sent instructions to the Bolivian legations in Santiago and Lima noting that Chile would immediately accept the sale, once the legality of its sovereignty over Arica was recognized in the negotiations. He said that Peru gave an affirmative answer to the proposal to sell to Bolivia the whole portion of the disputed territory south of Arica. Minister Gutiérrez sent new instructions to his legations in Lima and Santiago, to make clear that Bolivia did not want territories north or south of Arica, but merely a sufficient and appropriate strip of land allowing access to the sea on the basis of a simple transaction regarding the territory between both neighboring countries. Since no answer was forthcoming to the second proposal, Bolivia asked the United States to offer their good offices toward a bargaining negotiation to obtain a sovereign port for Bolivia. (28)

Secretary Kellogg then sent a note to Collier and Poindexter stating that obviously both the Peruvian and Chilean negotiators had Bolivia’s case in mind, but did not dare to put it forward without the necessary assurances. Therefore, he instructed his representatives to confidentially probe the views of both governments about the proposal to have Bolivia participate in the search for a solution to the question of Tacna and Arica. Collier answered the same day stating that Minister Mathieu's personal opinion favored the transfer of the whole province of Arica to Bolivia and that he only needed a few days to persuade the president and the committees of foreign affairs in the Senate and in the House to adopt such a solution.

Kellogg, with Collier's answer in mind, decided to present his new views and on April 15 convened the Chilean and Peruvian ambassadors to offer the following proposal:

"l) The territory of Tacna and Arica shall be constituted a neutralized state, either independent or under the protectorate of South American states, as may he agreed, or,

  1. The provinces of Tacna and Arica shall be transferred (upon an apportionment of equitable compensation, and appropriate economic arrangements, to be agreed upon) to a South American State not a party to those negotiations."

Peruvian representative, Mr. Valverde, accepted the first option and rejected the second, considering that the cession granting to a third state - which would supposedly be Bolivia - did not take into consideration the will of the population of the territories. Secretary Kellogg answered that the administrations of Chile and Peru had constantly declared their agreement on the question of granting Bolivia access to the sea and he emphasized that the opportunity was ripe to prove their good will. The Chilean ambassador, Mr. Cruchaga, indicated that he was not authorized to express an opinion about it, and requested some time for the appropriate consultations with Santiago. (29)

For his part, Collier informed Kellogg of his interview with the president and the minister of foreign affairs of Chile. He stated that both of them found unacceptable the alternatives of either the neutralization of Tacna and Arica or the creation of an independent state. In addition, they thought that in view of the initial rejection by Peru of the cession of some territories to Bolivia, it was unnecessary for Chile to take a stand on it. Collier insisted that Chile could consent, in principle, to such a solution to facilitate future US efforts to persuade Peru, and added that by currently showing their good will Chile might count on permanent Bolivian gratitude and friendship. Nevertheless, President Figueroa of Chile expressed his fears that while considering such a proposal, Mr. Leguía might be in the process of patching (or would already have patched) an alliance with Bolivia to recover territories lost in the War of the Pacific. Mr. Mathieu thus suggested that Kellogg make public these proposals, because their confidentiality prevented an internal negotiation. (30)

On April l8th, Collier wrote a letter to Kellogg telling him that Mathieu still thought that a transfer of Arica to Bolivia was possible, but that he required more time to create favorable public response in Santiago. Collier believed that Mathieu wanted to gain time in order to reach a direct agreement with Bolivia. Thus he asked Kellogg, on the one hand, for the United States to put pressure upon Bolivia so that it would not enter into any separate agreement with Chile especially outside the American mediation - and, on the other hand, that Kellogg introduce a new proposal providing for the division of the provinces and the celebration of separate plebiscites in each of them. Consequently, Collier suggested to the Bolivian ambassador in Santiago that his country make a public statement that they were not holding secret negotiations with Chile. (31)

The Peruvian representative in Washington, Mr. Velarde, reaffirmed to Kellogg the same day Peru's acceptance of the first alternative proposed by Kellogg on April l5th. He further made clear to him that Peru was not totally opposed to the second alternative, but instead had instructions from Lima to offer a solution which might combine both. Peru's proposal should not be presented to Chile as a Peruvian idea. At the same time, he was to assure the Chileans that Peru was not opposed to the second alternative offered by Kellogg concerning the cession of territory to Bolivia.

President Hernando Siles of Bolivia made public the following telegram sent to President Calvin Coolidge on April 19, and received in Washington on April 21:

"It is my duty to express to your excellency the satisfaction of the government and people of Bolivia at the suggestion of the secretary of state of the great republic to the most excellent governments of Chile and Peru, to the effect that in the dispute over Tacna and Arica or in its results the desire of Bolivia for a port be taken into account."


At the end of the telegram he announced that:

"Being so convinced, I have declared to the most excellent government of Santiago that my government insists that the conversations begun along that line immediately determine that Bolivia shall be present in Washington, as there is no object in carrying on any direct negotiations.

The great republic which has a directing influence in the destinies of America will thus contribute in bringing about a solution of the old-standing question of the Pacific which concerns three and not two peoples, of which none suffered more painfully from the war-by maritime mutilation that the one over which I have the honor to preside."


Collier informed Kellogg that Minister Mathieu seemed more favorably inclined to reaching a solution, and he had received information that Peru accepted the two proposals. He further stated that Mathieu was aware that Bolivia would not enter into a separate agreement, as confirmed by President Siles in his message. He then suggested that Kellogg must attempt to bring about the following agreement:

"l) To expand the Peruvian proposal relating to the strip of land south of Arica, to include the whole of the province of Arica and to declare the province of Tacna as a neutral zone.

2) To get Peruvian acceptance of a -minor share from Bolivian compensations. Chile would then have the bigger share, in addition to the compensation for the railroad and other public and municipal works they completed.

3) That Peru realize that such a solution was feasible, as it would eliminate Chile from the region.

4) Once Peru agreed, pressure should be exerted on Chile to adopt this proposal or some other similar solution that would consider Tacna as a part of Peru and not as an independent district." (31)

In his answer on April 26th to President Siles, President Coolidge stated that he had taken note of Bolivia's position. However, in view of the fact that the talks taking place under his arbitration were limited to Chile and Peru, and following Kellogg’s suggestions, he could not possibly invite other countries to participate in the arbitration protocol. Kellogg sent a copy of this note to Collier, with instructions to dissociate himself from any participation regarding Siles note because he did not want Chile to blame the United States for its failure in direct negotiations with Bolivia. Furthermore, he did not want public speculation on account of that. He added that the Chilean ambassador had let him know that US interference in the talks between Bolivia and Chile had had a very negative effect in Chile, and that such an unfortunate action closed any possible future solution for Bolivia, since Chile would subsequently refuse any kind of arrangement.

Kellogg suggested instead that:

"Both Governments accept, in principle, as a basis of adjustment of their differences concerning the provinces of Tacna and Arica, reserving all details for consideration in the course of the ensuing negotiations:

a) The delimitation of a corridor from the Bolivian frontier to the Pacific Ocean, said corridor to be transferred to Bolivia upon the apportionment of equitable compensation, appropriate economic arrangements and such other terms and conditions as may be agreed upon between Chile and Peru.

b) All territory in the disputed area lying to the north of the northern boundary of the corridor so delimited to be and become a part of Peru.

c) All territory in the disputed area lying to the south of the southern boundary of the corridor so delimited to, be and become part of Chile.

d) The foregoing territorial dispositions to be effected with due regard for the principle of just compensation for public improvements and all other matters as to which compensation may be deemed appropriate or necessary.

e) No government not now a party to these negotiations to be admitted to participation therein, except by agreement between Peru and Chile.

The Peruvian ambassador gave his consent to the proposed formula, emphasizing Peru's willingness to facilitate the success of the goodwill efforts and to reach a comprehensive solution of the problem. He therefore believed that the Kellogg’s new proposal opened the door to a final arrangement. For his part, the Chilean ambassador said that he would have preferred the secretary of sate to make a concrete proposal stating precisely what Bolivia would receive. He expressed his view that the parties in the dispute did not have a clear understanding of what their respective shares would be, and then inquired about Bolivia's perception of what a corridor should be. Finally he added that if Bolivia disagreed with the concept of a corridor there was nothing left for discussion between Peru and Chile. Kellogg said that he was aware that cession of a corridor to Bolivia must be defined; however, the idea presented at the meeting was based only on principle. Based on that principle and following its acceptance, concrete details about a corridor might be explored. Kellogg then questioned Peru concerning their own suggestions in this matter. The Peruvian ambassador replied that his country accepted the proposal in principle, but they had not prepared any detailed suggestions about it. He also expressed his understanding that Kellogg’s proposal opened the door to new negotiations.

The Chilean ambassador also affirmed that he did not have any suggestions, but insisted that the simple and vague proposal of Secretary Kellogg of granting a corridor to Bolivia was not the proper procedure in the search for a solution and asked him to make a detailed and concrete proposal.

The Secretary of State argued that although he was willing to do so, he first needed assurances from Chile and Peru that they would, in principle, agree to the division of the territory and the granting of a corridor. He stated that he had not yet dealt with Bolivia pending the agreement between Chile and Peru. He thus believed that the ideas on details should better be presented by the interested parties.

The ambassador of Chile noted that Peru was the first to adopt the proposal and should, therefore, also be the first to advance detailed ideas on how to apply them. The ambassador of Peru then pointed out that Chile had, above all, the obligation to let them know whether the latter accepted the proposal or not, before they could proceed to the drafting of detailed solutions between both countries. Kellogg insisted that his proposal was not comprehensive, but technical in character, and therefore wanted the opinions of both governments. Peru reaffirmed its acceptance of the proposal and promised to do everything in its power to reach a final agreement. The Chilean ambassador let the other know that he required instructions from his government, and requested that the meeting be adjourned for a few days. (32)

Collier reported afterward from Santiago that the main obstacle to the solution of the question of a corridor for Bolivia was indeed Minister Mathieu himself, who was advocating the full cession of Tacna and Arica to Bolivia as the best solution. On the other hand, Collier mentioned that he had information that the secretary of war had stated in a Cabinet meeting that if Arica was transferred to any country other than Chile a revolution in Chile would take place thereafter. Collier further reported that the Bolivian ambassador in Santiago had pointed out to him that the solution of a corridor was inconvenient to Bolivia, because he had reason to believe that Peru would sell both provinces to Bolivia as soon as the former recovered sovereignty over them. Ambassador Collier let his Bolivian colleague know that such views had had their chance before, but were at the time totally obsolete; it there was any chance for Bolivia to recover access to the Pacific it would only be possible through a corridor. (33)

On June 7th the secretary of state informed Ambassador Collier about the outcome of the previous meeting and judged that Chile opposed any solution in favor of Bolivia. Furthermore, Kellogg was highly pessimistic in considering that a negative statement, issued by the plebiscite commission, was unavoidable. Two days later, Ambassador Cruchaga introduce to Secretary Kellogg a proposal in the following terms:

"l) Chile reaffirmed its preference for a plebiscite; however,

2) accepted to divide the territory by returning the province of Tacna to Peru and the province of Arica to Chile; and,

3) suggested that Bolivia be granted a corridor four kilometers wide from the Bolivian border to the hamlet of Palos, facing the Pacific Ocean. Such a strip of land would run parallel to the borderline of the Provinces of Tacna and Arica, taking two kilometers on each side of the border. In addition, such a corridor could not get closer than 10 kilometers in any sector from the existing Arica-La Paz railroad. The proposal was also submitted to Ambassador Velarde for consideration in Lima. (34)

General Lassiter made public on June 4 the report of the plebiscite commission. This report explained why the commission had decided to put an end to its efforts and it was due to Chile's permanent obstruction to allow the required conditions for the plebiscite to take place. The resolution adopted by the members of the commission acknowledged that the plebiscite was an impossible task since conditions for the celebration of a fair election were lacking in Tacna and Arica. The Chilean delegate declared the resolution illegal on account of the arbiter's decision to have the plebiscite take place. The publication of the Lassiter Report produced a deep impact in the countries concerned and had, at the same time, the effect of paralyzing the goodwill efforts undertaken by Secretary Kellogg. It should be mentioned that, at first sight, the plebiscite commission acted independently from the Department of State. However, Kellogg closely coordinated his views with those of the commissioner, since both of them knew that the implementation of the plebiscite was impossible and the US was obliged, anyhow, to solve the problem.

Nevertheless, Ambassador Velarde made a petition to Secretary Kellogg on August 27th to revive US goodwill efforts toward a solution, but he indicated as well that his country could not accept any kind of solution involving the loss of the city of Arica, and that Peru could not accept any solution granting Arica to Chile. Against this background Kellogg sent instructions to Poindexter to try and reach a compromised solution with Peruvian President Leguía consisting of the establishment of a corridor to Bolivia, including the railroad tracks and the country's right to make use of the port of Arica. Kellogg insisted that the Peruvian president be persuaded by the US ambassador in Lima of the fact that Peru had already won a moral victory against Chile with the suspension of the plebiscite, even though the arbiter had not yet decided on Lassiter's resolution. Leguía should therefore express his views on how to find a practical way to conclude arbitration proceedings and begin to consider a possible solution to the dispute.

The secretary of state also approached his Chargé d’Affaires in Santiago to have him transmit to the government of Chile the feeling that a solution to the dispute for Tacna and Arica did not solely concern Chile and Peru but that it was of the utmost interest to all nations in the Western Hemisphere. With this in mind, his objective was to ascertain not just the opinion of the government but public opinion as well, about a possible arrangement including the following points:

"1) Cession of Tacna to Peru; cession of a corridor to Bolivia including the railroad; cession of Arica to Chile, including the city of Arica; and rental to the Bolivian agents of the port facilities and related connections to the Bolivian corridor within the framework of the Treaty of Fiume.

2) Neutralization of the territories in question or creation of a free state.

3) Sale of the whole territory in dispute to Bolivia."

Furthermore, he added the provision that Chile might lease to Bolivia the whole city of Arica instead of limiting the lease to the small strip aforementioned.

Poindexter sent a note of his impressions to Kellogg on October 11th, convinced that Peru would accept neutrality for Arica and Tacna and would even accept Chile’s continuing sovereignty over the province of Arica. He believed that Peru was ready to allow for the inclusion of the city of Arica within the limits of the Bolivian corridor on condition that Tacna be returned to Peru. He further asked for detailed instructions to start talks with President Leguía. Kellogg's answer to all these considerations included a new plan. Kellogg, in concluding his note, instructed his ambassador to explore whether it would be possible for Chile and Peru to transfer sovereignty by means of a sale contract with Bolivia. (35)

After his talk with President Leguía, the American ambassador in Lima answered that the Peruvian president revealed to him that any agreement including Peru's loss of the city of Arica could have serious consequences, even the fall of his own government.

Secretary Kellogg convened a meeting with the State Department's top echelon and former Secretary Hughes on October 19th to evaluate the situation and to adopt a clear position which might serve as the basis for the arbiter's decision. Once the events and the various factors involved were duly analyzed at the meeting, former Secretary Hughes summarized to Kellogg the opinions of the participants consisting of a new plan to be presented by the United States to Chile and Peru.

Early in November, the Peruvian ambassador sent Kellogg a memorandum summing up the position of his country and insisting that the problem involving the city of Tacna and the port of Arica basically concerned the situation of Peruvian residents in those places. For Peru the relevant criteria concerned the population more than the territories themselves. Thus justified his view that any solution should emerge from the principle that Tacna and the port of Arica should be returned to Peru.

Peru would commit itself to grant Bolivia and Chile the advantage of a free zone and customs privileges in exchange for an agreement to give the port, the city and the Morro of Arica to Peru. In addition, Peru was in favor of building new and sophisticated port facilities six miles south of Arica, which would then become an independent port under Bolivian sovereignty and connected to the Arica-La Paz railroad. Chile might thus find that the new port and railroad would favor its own interests in the region. Velarde stated in his memorandum that the Morro and the port of Arica were a geographical, political and commercial unit inseparable from Tacna, and that no natural barrier existed to mark the borders between Tacna and Arica. On the other hand, Peru could not agree to have Tacna locked up as a result of granting Arica - its natural port - to another country.

The Peruvian government concluded the settlement reaffirming a sincere will to settle the dispute and offering its complete cooperation to that end. Peru's only reservation was that any solution must exclude cession of the city, the port and the Morro of Arica to another country.

Secretary Kellogg lost his patience and said that is was high time to stop giving the run around to this question without approaching a solution. With a sudden impromptu, he opted for the plan suggested by the Department of State's top echelon and former Secretary Hughes. He summoned the ambassadors of Chile and Peru and warned them that it was final. Copies were sent to the US ambassadors in Santiago and Lima. Portions of that proposal read as follows:

"The Tacna-Arica controversy has engaged my closest attention ever since I assumed the duties of secretary of state. All of my predecessors in this office during the past 40 years have followed with the deepest interest the varying phases of the problem, and several secretaries, particularly my immediate predecessor, Mr. Hughes, have been intimately concerned, as I have been, with the task of contributing, if possible, to its solution.

...It would appear that from the nature of the case there are but three ways to deal with the disputed territory: you can assign it all to one of the contestants; you can divide it between them on some basis to be defined; or you can effect some arrangement whereby neither contestant shall get any of the territory. These three general types comprise an exclusive classification of the logically possible ways to dispose of the rest. I think it may fairly be said that the first of them, namely, delivery of the disputed territory in its entirety to one or the other of the parties, has virtually ceased to be regarded as a practical solution by anybody who really hopes for a permanent settlement.

The second method, that of division, has also seemed to me to recede further and further into the background. The parties have not been able to find any formula or basis, either of straight division, or of division coupled with a ‘corridor’ feature or a ‘free city’ device, which is acceptable to both of them.

I have decided to outline and place before the two governments a plan which, in my judgment, is worthy of their earnest attention. I venture to express the sincere hope that they will adopt it. This plan calls for the cooperation of a third power, Bolivia, which has not yet appeared in any of the negotiations, at least so far as my government is concerned. While the attitude of Bolivia has not been ascertained, save that her aspiration to secure access to the Pacific is common knowledge, it seems reasonable to assume that Bolivia, by virtue of her geographical situation, is the one outside power which would be primarily interested in acquiring, by purchase or otherwise, the subject matter of the pending controversy. With this preface let me now define the concrete suggestion which I have in mind:

a) The republics of Chile and Peru, either by joint or by several instruments freely and voluntarily executed, to cede to the Republic of Bolivia, in perpetuity, all rights, title and interest which either may have in the provinces of Tacna and Arica;

b) As an integral part of the transaction, provision to be made for adequate compensation to be given by the Republic of Bolivia for said concession, including public works, railways and improvements in the territory transferred, and taking into account the present value of all such public works, railways and improvements made by both Chile and Peru during the periods when they have respectively been in control of the territory;

c) Chile and Peru to agree in direct negotiation upon the equitable apportionment between them of any cash compensation which may he provided for; it being here also understood that the secretary of state will place at their disposal his good offices, if required to assist them in making the apportionment."

The Government of Bolivia answered the Kellogg proposal with a statement fully accepting the settlement formula presented by the US government and offering its cooperation to reach an agreement with the governments of Chile and Peru under the conditions of the aforementioned territorial transfer and through the good offices of the government of the United States. (36)

The Government of Chile answered that the only question pending was the final decision upon sovereignty of the territories of Tacna and Arica. In accordance with the Treaty of Ancón, the people of Tacna and Arica should freely determine the future status of the provinces, ten years after the signing of said treaty. It further added that the protocol of Washington gave the president of the United States the basis for a solution and that its sanction totally supported the Chilean thesis in favor of the self-determination of these territories. In addition, the proceedings for the plebiscite proved that a large voting majority would have supported Chile.

In an outstanding paragraph of its formal answer, the Chilean government stated that:

"The proposal of the Department of State goes much farther than the concessions which the Chilean government has generously been able to make., It involves the definitive cession, to the Republic of Bolivia, of the territory in dispute and although, as the secretary of state says, this solution does not wound the dignity of the contending countries and is in harmony with the desire, repeatedly shown by Chilean government to help satisfy Bolivian aspirations, it is no less trues that it signifies a sacrifice of our rights and the cession of a territory incorporated for forty years in the republic by virtue of a solemn treaty, a situation which cannot be juridically altered except by plebiscite, whose results are not at all doubtful in the opinion of the Chilean people."

The Chilean government further rationalized its answer as follows:

"Nevertheless, in deference to the great cause of American confraternity and being arduous to foster reconciliation among the countries involved in the War of the Pacific, Chile has always been disposed to listen to all propositions for settlement which might contribute toward such lofty aims and at the same time might offer compensation proportionate to the sacrifice of that part of its legitimate rights which such proposals import. . .

In this sense, the Chilean government agrees to consider in principle the proposal, thereby giving a new and eloquent demonstration of its aims of peace and cordiality."

Considering that Peru did not answer immediately, Kellogg sent instructions to his ambassador in Lima asking him to obtain approval "in principle" from Leguía to the proposal of November 30. Ambassador Velarde sent Kellogg a note on December 3rd stating that before Peru could answer the proposal, his Government would like to know Kellogg’s forecast on the fate that the Peruvian citizens of Arica and Tacna would follow. Kellogg replied pointing out a provision included in paragraph a) of the proposal establishing guarantees for the individual and property rights of all inhabitants. He also sent Velarde copies of the replies received from Bolivia and Chile. (37)

The Peruvian minister of foreign affairs sent a very extensive and detailed note to Kellogg on January 12 reminding him about the negotiations and main aspects that Peru considered essential for a solution. In his answer, the following points might be highlighted:

"As the plebiscite has not been held by reason of Chile's attitude in the matter, it is clear that the third clause of the Treaty of Ancon, which juridically involved a resolutory condition of the said treaty, has failed in its purpose and as the only limitation there was in respect to the nationality of Tacna and Arica was contained in the same clause, these territories have reassumed their status as provinces free from all foreign domination and it has become manifest with all the force of law and fact, that they continue to be Peruvian provinces.

How is it possible that having arrived at this juridical conclusion on the part of Peru and of the United States it should now be claimed that Peru should cede those territories to Bolivia?

Peru cannot accept the proposed cession of the territory of Tacna and Arica to anyone, whether by purchase or by any other method, because he who has been defending for more than forty years his rights over said territories cannot convert them into merchandise subject to a price, however large this may be."

And he added further that:

"Indeed, as it has just been stated, Peru has been willing to cede part of the territory with the object of giving a port to Bolivia. . . to put an end to the controversy with Chile, and even this latter country has manifested their willingness to make restorations to Peru of nearly ail the province of Tacna."

The Peruvian minister concluded his note emphasizing that Peru could not possibly accept - even at risk of contradicting its political tradition to show deference for the United States of America - a solution implying the abandonment of his fellow citizens residing in Tacna and Arica. (38)

The Peruvian formal answer disheartened Kellogg in continuing his efforts towards a settlement of a dispute between Peru and Chile. He thus opted to leave things as they were. He neither tried for a revival of the US good offices nor did he insist on advancing a solution involving the eventual participation of Bolivia. The 1926 Kellogg’s actions we very close to reaching a final solution to the question of Tacna and Arica and to having Bolivia resolve the problem of its geographical isolation. Kellogg lacked patience and his strong character prompted him to make an abrupt proposal for a solution which, according to our scrutiny, was condemned from the beginning to a dire end, rather than persisting upon the matter already settled. Kellogg did not think that reaching a solution was paramount, nonetheless, but it was important indeed to preserve, above all US prestige as it was being tested both in its role of an arbiter and of a friendly mender.

On this occasion, Chile sought to keep for itself as much territory as it could in Arica, and to return Tacna to Peru. It also decided to keep within its territory the La Paz-Arica railroad, and thus to have leverage in further negotiations with Bolivia, if the opportunity ever arose. In turn, Peru wanted not only the return of Tacna, a solution already offered by Chile during the l89Os, but primarily, the return of a part of the province of Arica including the port, the city and the Morro. Moreover, Peru would accept to give Bolivia some other territorial portion south of the city of Arica as an outlet to the sea, with the understanding that it was a Peruvian initiative. Finally, Bolivia was ready to accept any solution which would provide a sovereign exit to the Pacific Ocean, preferably including the port of Arica. It was irrelevant for Bolivia if the solution came either from Chile or Peru.

Furthermore, it can be appreciated that during this period of time, when the United States assumed its full hegemonic power functions over the world system, the Department of State allowed a few larger Latin American countries such as Brazil and Argentina to play a semiperipheral role in the region. For American diplomacy, however, Brazil was already its favorite in surrogating some decision-making that had previously been solely a US privilege. Under this light, one can better understand Brazil's policies as described before regarding the Bolivian landlocked status.




1. Department of State. File 723.2515/1331, 780; Telegram and 790.

2. Torre Tagle is the name of the Palace that houses the Peruvian Ministry of Foreign Relations, op. cit. 792: Telegram.

3. Op. cit. 792: and /805: Telegrams.

4. Op. cit. /806, 807, 810, 81 l.

5. Op. cit. /843 and 821.

6. Op. cit. /865.

7. Op. cit. /1022.

8. Op. cit. /1014.

9. Op. cit. / 920 and 943: Telegram.

10. Op. cit. 1939 and 940.

11. Op. cit. /1024.

12. Op. cit. /1069.

13. Graham H. Stuart. The Tacna-Arica Dispute, Boston, World Peace Foundation, 1927, pp. 49-.55.

14. Op. cit. 725.2515/1253 and 1246.

15. William J. Dennis, Tacna and Arica, Archor Books, 1967 and Joe Foster Wilson, An Evaluation of the Failure of the Tacna-Arica Plebiscitary Commission, 1925-1926, Doctoral Dissertation, University of Georgia.

16. Wilson, op. cit. p. 88.

17. Op. cit. p. 30 and Department of State, File 723.2515/1700: Telegram

18. Op. cit. /1832.

19. Op. cit. /2100.

21. Wilson, op. cit. p.120.

22. Department of State, File 723.251512100.

23. Op. cit. /2118.

24. Op. cit. /2515.

25. Op. cit. /2143a and 21386.

26. Op. cit. /2150.

27. Op. cit. /2151.

28. Op. cit. /2168.

29. Op. cit. 723.2515/2432.

30. Op. cit. /2408.

31. Op. cit. /2415, 2652 and 2646.

32. Op. cit. 12654.

33. Op. cit. /27l3a.

34. Op. cit. /2833 l/2.

35. Op. cit. /2749.

37. Op. cit. /2853.

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