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

No. 1845

Sir: Referring to previous reports concerning the arrival of Mr. George Rublee, I have the honor to report that Mr. Rublee arrived in Bogotá on Monday last8 and has ever since been busily engaged in studying the petroleum project prepared by the Congressional Petroleum Committee, as well as amendments thereto suggested by Dr. Carlos A. Urueta.

He has gone over the project article by article (this, of course, is a secret here) with Mr. Metzger of the Tropical Oil Company, and has also discussed it with Dr. Carlos A. Urueta, and today, in my presence, had a discussion on the subject with President Olaya.

His impression is that, in general, the project is a good one and he is in accord with Urueta’s suggested changes. President Olaya told us today that he was having difficulty with the Minister of Industries on the matter of the system of the parallel reserves which had been proposed by the Congressional committee; Dr. Chaux was being very insistent that, due to the geography of the petroleum structures of Colombia, it was essential for the Nation to maintain the alternate parallel reserve system suggested by the committee. He (Olaya) said that he had told Dr. Latorre to prepare a memorandum on the subject for Mr. Rublee, and he wanted him to go into the matter carefully, as he himself believed that the checker-board system was preferable; but he was finding that opposition thereto was very general here and he might have some difficulty in getting it through Congress. I suggested that Mr. Rublee, after studying the matter carefully, give his opinion in this form: that it depended upon what Colombia wanted: if they regarded the matter of reserves as most important, then the system of parallel reserves was in order; if they wanted exploitation, some other system would be better. I added that perhaps, if the parallel concessions were made broad enough, some sort of a compromise might be reached. Dr. Olaya said that he was in entire accord with both of those suggestions and hoped Mr. Rublee would work along those lines.

Dr. Olaya referred again to the matter of a possible advance on the Tropical royalties, and I again told him that, while I thought the Company might well be willing eventually to do as he wishes, I knew that they would take no action at all in the desired direction until the matter of their suit before the Supreme Court were disposed of. …

[Page 8]

Dr. Olaya told Mr. Rublee also that, as soon as possible, he wanted him to go into the whole Barco matter; he was very anxious to have that case also disposed of during the present Congress. He had told Dr. Latorre to prepare a memorandum for him on the subject.

Respectfully yours,

Jefferson Caffery
  1. October 27.