711.21/478b: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Minister in Colombia (Philip)

On Thursday August 7th the Senate recommitted the Colombian Treaty to the Foreign Relations Committee. Senator Lodge stated in that session the following; “I ask that the treaty with Colombia which was reported to the Senate as in open executive session a few days ago be recommitted to the Committee on Foreign Relations. Information has reached the Committee from the State Department in regard to a recent decree by Colombia16 very similar to the Mexican decree which would amount, probably, if enforced, to a confiscation of private property in oil and the Committee feel that the matter should be examined with care before taking up the treaty.”

The Sub-Committee of the Foreign Relations Committee to which the matter was referred and with which the Department has conferred is now of the opinion that the best way of safeguarding American interests in Colombia, as well as in other parts of Latin America, will be by means of an amendment to the treaty in this connection. The precise phraseology of the amendment has not been determined but the following is a first draft thereof: “The signatories agree that neither will by decree, law, departmental circular, constitutional amendment, or through the acts of their legislative, executive or judicial department, in any way nullify, or alter, or question, the rights of the citizens of the other signatory, to real estate, mines, petroleum deposits or any other like property in its country, acquired prior to the exchange of ratifications of this treaty, unless in the title documents or written contracts, whether public or private, under which such real estate or other property is claimed or held, specific reservations or limitations are made and set forth.”17

Confidential. The Department desires you to present this matter to the Government of Colombia in a confidential manner and to indicate to it the contents of the proposed amendment. The action of the Senate in recommitting the treaty to the Committee was taken because uncertainty exists as to the motives and definite purposes of the Colombian Government with respect to the nationalization, or retroactive application of the principle of nationalization, of oil lands.

Neither the Department nor Congress desire in the slightest degree to interfere with the sovereign rights of Colombia in the disposition of her public lands, mines, or other property.

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It is simply desired to make it plain that the interests of American citizens, in any property of whatsoever kind, acquired, without notice of limitations or reservations, in good faith must be protected by Colombia.

Cable Department result of your conversation with Government of Colombia and statement of attitude with which it views proposed amendment.

  1. Post, p. 765.
  2. For a sentence subsequently added to this draft, see p. 774.