The Overstretched Superpower
Does America Have More Rivals Than It Can Handle?
ANOTE of relief and satisfaction could be detected in the State Department's recent announcement that through the good offices of the President of the United States an agreement had been reached between Chile and Peru relative to the question of Tacna-Arica. For nearly half a century the dispute over this territory has troubled the relations of the Western Hemisphere. The United States has made repeated efforts to bring about a solution, but without avail. These efforts have placed at our door a measure of responsibility and much censure. There are those who believe that through its readiness to take a hand in the settlement of the War of the Pacific, the United States must bear a large burden of blame for the creation of this problem. In any event our failure as arbitrator has been a cause of regret, and while the recent agreement leaves out of account the claims of Bolivia for a free passage to the sea, it represents a real step forward by satisfying Peru and thus resolving a three-cornered controversy into one which may be more hopefully continued between Bolivia and Chile.
In both the Peruvian and Chilean replies to the proposal of President Hoover there is a gratifying note of finality. Peru "considers this question absolutely and finally settled;" and Chile believes "that the treaty . . . will wholly and finally decide the only pending question arising from the War of the Pacific."
The main points of the President's proposal may be summarized as follows:
The territory under dispute is divided into two parts: Tacna for Peru and Arica for Chile. The dividing line is 10 kilometers north of, and parallel to, the Arica-La Paz Railroad (see map). The sulphur deposits of Tacora remain in Chilean territory, and the canals of Uchusuma and Mauri remain the property of Peru.
Chile will construct for Peru, at Arica, a wharf, a custom-house, and a station for the Arica-Tacna railway, where Peru shall enjoy independence within an ample free port.
Chile will pay to Peru six million dollars, will deliver to Peru without cost all the public works and government-owned real estate in the Department of Tacna, and will maintain in the Department of Arica the Arica-Tacna Railroad Co. franchise.
Children of Peruvian nationals born in Arica shall be considered as Peruvians until they attain the age of 21, when they shall have the right to elect their definitive nationality; and the children of Chileans, born in Tacna, shall enjoy the same right.
Chile and Peru will reciprocally release any obligation, engagement, or indebtedness between the two countries, whether or not derived from the Treaty of Anc6n.
The only discordant note in the chorus of approbation which has followed the settlement emanates from Bolivia. The agreement leaves her a landlocked power, a situation which she has endured ever since she lost her littoral to Chile as the penalty of defeat in the War of 1879. But while to this extent the question of boundaries appears to be not yet finally settled, we must not forget that Bolivia has no legal claim but seeks to regain access to the sea by moral suasion. The problem has been simplified by the elimination of Peru; Bolivia must now negotiate directly with Chile, for ready access to the sea lies through that part of the area which becomes Chilean territory.[i] The United States was always sympathetic with Bolivia's hopes for a seaport, but presumably felt it unwise to jeopardize the chance of settlement by stressing them.
[i] For possible Bolivian concessions to Chile see "A Possible Settlement of the Tacna nd Arica Question," FOREIGN AFFAIRS, Vol. II, No. 1.