825.00 Revolutions/69: Telegram

The Ambassador in Chile (Culbertson) to the Secretary of State

54. Junta for the time being has the military force necessary to maintain its power but the propertied and conservative classes will not accept the socialistic measures proposed without resistance. Moreover the Junta will encounter practical difficulties at every turn in case it attempts to put in force its radical measures. If it should go so far as to resort to force and confiscation we will see resistance and conflict.

Action will be directed in the first instance at least against the Chileans of the privileged classes. The Junta’s statements thus far with reference to foreign interests have been general except in case of Cosach and I have the impression that it intends to move with less violence with respect to these interests.

With the return to influence of Merino,5 American aviation interests may have some trouble although Panagra6 manager reports friendly attitude from officers at aviation field. The Panagra passenger service has been suspended temporarily but the mails are still moving.

In meeting of American executives at the Embassy this afternoon concern was expressed that the Government might attempt to take over the American public utilities and that possibly Government might demand money from American banks and companies. The [Page 434]docking of the Standard Oil Company tanker off the coast has been delayed awaiting developments. At the same time others recalled that treatment of American interests was far from satisfactory by former Government and the hope was expressed that conditions might not be so unfavorable to foreign interests as general declarations by the Junta might lead one to believe. Manager of Cosach considers declaration of Junta in favor of reorganization as hopeful sign. Representative of United Press, having just returned interview with Dávila, said that latter scouted the idea of a communistic government and added that the Junta, considering capitalism as inadequate, favored the continued socialization of the Government, that is a modification of capitalism by State socialism. Dávila stated positively in the same interview that foreign interests would not be molested and that the debt situation would remain as it is at present, but that the Junta would follow a severe and strict dictatorship without congress. Soon thereafter the Junta gave the manager of the telephone company assurance complete and full protection since it recognizes that communications are of prime importance. Moreover, about the same time Dávila, in conversation with manager of the National City Bank, agreed to publish statement that they had no intention of touching any of the deposits in banks. Dávila knew of the meeting at the Embassy and in reply to his question was told that American interests were concerned over the statement of radical policies. Dávila said the Junta had no intention to confiscate American property but rather to cooperate with the companies.

Disagreement between Dávila and Grove has been reported. Montero is now in hiding and Government is searching for him realizing now that it made a mistake in not forcing his resignation. Telephone conversations today with various cities in Chile indicate that people are greatly surprised at the revolutionary movement and indicate no special sympathy with new government. On the other hand the poorer classes, under the stimulus of the Junta’s promises, are in favor of the new regime for the time being.

The Diplomatic Corps is meeting daily. All its members are informing their respective Governments of events and asking instructions to be used if and when the Junta raises the question of recognition. We should delay recognition until we see whether the Junta can maintain its position and especially until it gives indication of a reasonable policy towards the large American interests in Chile.

For a short time my communications to the government in urgent matters can be oral, but if recognition is delayed very long I would appreciate an indication of our practice of communications in such situations. At least in routine matters and possibly in matters of [Page 435]more fundamental importance written communications will be necessary.

I might have to take diplomatic action immediately in order to protect large American property interests in Chile. Then, if the usual methods of diplomacy are not successful I will ask the Department what other methods it wishes to apply.

  1. Arturo Merino Benitez, sub-Secretary of Aviation.
  2. Pan American Grace Airlines.