The Minister in Colombia ( Philip ) to the Secretary of State
[Received August 20, 12.40 a.m.]
116. Confidential. The situation arising from the Senate’s action upon the treaty seems to have improved somewhat. The serious press now counsels patience and restraint. A meeting of students on the 16th instant sent a deputation to the Foreign Office to ask that the law of 1914, approving the treaty, be repealed but no other demonstrations have taken place. Yesterday I had a short talk with [Page 772] the President who had been away for two days. He agrees that it will be possible to enter into an undertaking to provide for the protection of American property rights, et cetera, but is exceedingly averse to its embodiment in the treaty proper and suggested a separate protocol to be signed at the same time as the [treaty?]. He said that previously it had been determined to revoke the petroleum decree of June 20th but that the news from Washington rendered a withdrawal of the revocation necessary [unnecessary?] though he thinks this may be done later.
Department’s August 13, 4 p.m. has been received and enlightens me to the extent that I conclude from it that the Department is opposed to the nationalization by Colombia of subsoil rights in petroleum lands. This Government certainly favors such a measure as a means of creating revenue and as the best means of guarding the future interests of the State in what is thought may prove one of its most important industries but I have confidence no tendency to radical or anti-foreign legislation regarding petroleum for the opposition to the plan is very strong. These people are trying to make a petroleum law which will fully protect their interests and at the same time encourage American investment and development. They seem to be very ignorant as to the best legislation for the purpose and I believe would be susceptible to advisory suggestions. Should the Department contemplate such an important attitude toward the pending Colombian legislation as I infer from its instruction above mentioned, it is highly important that I be furnished with its full confidential views and with immediate suggestions as to alternative legislation and other pertinent matters which will enable me confidentially to advise here in the most effective manner. Relative to the entire question as brought up by your August 9, 5 p.m.52 the President and Government appear desirous of complying with the wishes of the Government of the United States if this can be done without humiliation or loss of prestige.