711.21/481: Telegram

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

112. The Department’s August 9th, 5 p.m., informing me of the referring of Colombian Treaty to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and reasons therefore was received yesterday. I immediately obtained a conference with the President and the Minister for Foreign Affairs at the palace and gave them a paraphrase of Senator Lodge’s statement to the Senate. The Colombian Government had received all information from its Legation at Washington. In the course of the conversation the President said that he deeply regretted the turn affairs had taken and that he thought it had been well understood that the decree of June 20th was published for the purpose of hastening legislation by the Colombian Congress and not as a definite solution of the petroleum question in which, [he said,] Colombian land owners are interested to a very much greater extent than are Americans and other foreigners up to the present time. Both the President and the Foreign Minister expressed surprise that the American Government should propose to attach an amendment concerning Colombian petroleum rights to the Panama Treaty. It was, also, remarked that, of course, any special agreement entered into with the United States relative to petroleum development would entail similar arrangements with other foreign governments. The President stated the Colombian Government would consider the question of the Senate Committee’s proposed amendment and that he would inform me of the result as soon as possible.

For the Department’s confidential information. I have gathered the impression that the Colombian Government considers that this check to favorable treaty action by the Senate is chiefly due to the activities of Colombian land owners agitating in the United States through the few American owners of oil lands in Colombia. The Colombian Congress is now studying a projected petroleum law [Page 739]which, although it involves government ownership of subsoil rights, would seem to be in other respects favorable to foreign interests and to resemble the former Mexican laws involving right of denouncements. My July 29th, 3 p.m.18 An additional Presidential decree dated the 12th instant and published yesterday afternoon revokes the decree of June 20th on the ground that it might be considered an obstacle to the present labors of the Congress in enacting a complete law to grant the mining of petroleum.19

Philip
  1. Not printed; see despatch No. 107, July 30, p. 769.
  2. See the Minister’s telegram of Aug. 14, p. 771.