711.21/480: Telegram

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

114. Confidential. I conferred with the Ministers for Foreign Affairs and Public Works yesterday relative to the subject of Department’s August 9, 5 p.m. Earlier in the afternoon these Ministers had been in secret session with a congressional committee and had explained the situation as outlined by you in the above cablegram under the head of confidential information.

They gave me a tentative draft of an amendment or protocol to which they were of opinion the Government might agree though it is very disinclined to further amend or change the treaty especially in view of the strong public feeling which has been aroused by the publicity given the cause of our Senate’s action. This draft which embodied a reciprocal guarantee to protect rights acquired by nationals was last night returned by me at the request of the Minister for Foreign Affairs who said it was desired to make some further changes in it before it is submitted. The Ministers stated that the Government cannot consent to the mention of American petroleum rights in the treaty and that it earnestly desires that any agreement which may be arrived at may be embodied in a separate protocol to be signed if desired at the same time as the treaty; moreover that it is manifestly impossible for the Government to give any undertaking [as to?] private ownership of subsoil rights as the question forms at present one of the most debated points of pending Colombian legislation. I impressed upon the Minister the advisability of adopting some means of demonstrating to the American people the good faith and real desire for friendly relations on the part of Colombia, which seemed to be well received.

[Page 740]

I feel compelled to bring to the attention of the Department the serious situation resulting from the publication of Senator Lodge’s statement in the Senate relative to the withdrawal of the treaty. Coming at the end of a national celebration of the battle of Boyaca when the whole country was expectantly awaiting a favorable settlement of the treaty, the effect of this announcement apparently has been such as to greatly impair American prestige not only in Colombia but in South American Republics as well. The surprise and disappointment occasioned by our action in merging the treaty question with that of the pending petroleum legislation is all too apparent among Colombians of all classes, my South American colleagues and American representatives of oil and other interests here. The press of Bogota is practically unanimous in condemning what is termed the imperialistic and coercive policy of the great northern Republic and I have had warning that violent demonstrations may result. Telegrams of sympathy are published from Chile and other governments. Had the Department’s and the Senate’s desires in this matter been made known to me confidentially I think much could have been accomplished which is now rendered most difficult. In any event the President’s unfortunate decree of June 20th20 would have been revoked. …

  1. Post, p. 765.