818.6363 Am 6/78a: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Chargé in Great Britain (Wright)

216. Address a note to the Foreign Office in the sense of the following.

The attention of my Government has been called to a statement made in the House of Commons on March 1, 1921, by His Majesty’s Minister in Chargé of Petroleum Affairs, to the effect that His Majesty’s Government are aware that the American Consul at San José endeavored to bring about the cancellation of a concession in Costa Rica obtained by a United States company in which British capital was interested.

In Your Lordship’s note of August 9, 1920,11 relative to the application of the principle of equality of treatment to the territories of the Near East to be placed under mandates, it was stated that “the United States representative at San José urged the present Costa Rican Government to cancel all concessions granted by the previous Government, the only concession in question being an oil concession granted to a British subject.” In my Government’s note of November 20, 1920,12 relative to mandates, no reference was made to this statement, since it appeared irrelevant to the question then under discussion and as possibly tending to confuse the issue. In a communication from Your Lordship, dated February 28, 1921,13 in continuation of the mandate correspondence, the observation is made that my Government has not attempted to refute the statement in your note of August 9, 1920, concerning the alleged action “of the United States Government”.

In view of the interest shown in the matter by His Majesty’s Government, I take pleasure in conveying information that may serve to correct mistaken impressions and make clear the position that has been assumed by the Government of the United States with respect to the Amory oil concession.

Your Lordship is no doubt aware that the Government of the United States made public announcement that it would not consider as worthy of its diplomatic support any claims of American citizens arising from a business transaction with the Tinoco administration of Costa Rica.14 The attitude assumed by my Government with respect to American citizens asserting an interest in the Amory concession has been based upon its general policy toward a usurping revolutionary regime in Costa Rica which was never accorded recognition by my Government and which on September 2, 1919, passed out of existence. Although the Government of the United States has, in pursuance of this general policy, consistently refused support to American citizens asserting an interest in the concession, the action [Page 652] taken by the American Consul at San José several months before the annullment of the concession, which is apparently the action referred to by Your Lordship and by the Minister in Chargé of Petroleum Affairs, was never authorized or approved by my Government.

Nevertheless, it is difficult to perceive how any such action during the period prior to the annullment of the concession would furnish necessarily an occasion for justifiable criticism on the part of His Majesty’s Government. As late as July 2, 1920, the American company holding the concession, in its communications to the Department of State, concealed the participation of British interests in the project. Moreover, the Government of the United States is not aware of any official communication from His Majesty’s Government, stating that the actual control of the Amory concession was in the hands of British citizens, until the receipt on August 12, 1920, of Your Lordship’s note of August 9, 1920, setting forth that the concession had been granted to a British subject. There was also, as my Government has learned, a communication on the subject from the British Government to the Costa Rican Government, dated July 13, 1920; but this communication does not appear to have been published until August 27, 1920. As your Lordship is aware, the concession was annulled by the Costa Rican Government on August 11, 1920.

  1. See telegram no. 1205, Aug. 11, 1920, from the Ambassador in Great Britain, Foreign Relations, 1920, vol. ii, p. 663.
  2. Ibid., p. 669.
  3. See telegram no. 160, Mar. 1, from the Ambassador in Great Britain, vol. ii, p. 80.
  4. See telegram of Feb. 22, 1917, 4 p.m., to the Minister in Costa Rica, Foreign Relations, 1917, p. 308.