The Minister in Colombia ( Philip ) to the Secretary of State
[Received November 23, 6.50 p.m.]
174. In view of the instructions embodied in your November 8, noon,59 I have informed the Acting Minister for Foreign Affaires that I am not in a position to offer any suggestion concerning the petroleum legislation now pending in the Senate.
With regard to the legislation projected by the House of Representatives that subsoil deposits in private lands which may not have been developed within a period of 20 years after the enactment of the legislation shall be forfeited to the Nation, the Senate probably will modify the law in this and other respects. The Foreign Minister informs me that the Government and himself are endeavoring to bring about the elimination of this provision so that there will be no condition whatever upon the ownership of deposits in these lands. However, he does not consider this provision as tantamount to nationalization but as a means of intense development of the resources, such development guaranteeing to the owner of the land permanent ownership of the deposits. He said that there is a disposition in the Senate to extend this development from 20 to perhaps [Page 779]50 years. The Minister further added that he is at a loss to understand how his Government could enter into an agreement as required by our Senate before the Colombian Congress has enacted a law to govern the question of petroleum lands and production.
I am informed that the Supreme Court has completed the drafts of its decision as to the validity of the Executive decree of June 20th last, and that it will declare the decree to be annulled. Publication of this decision is expected shortly.