The Minister in Colombia ( Whitehouse ) to the Acting Secretary of State

No. 9

Sir: Referring to my telegram No. 100 of November 30, 6 p.m., and previous correspondence concerning the Debt Act recently passed by both Houses of the Colombian Congress, I have the honor to report that President Olaya signed the bill on November 30, 1933, backdating it, however, to November 28, 1933, in order to be within the time limit of six days established by the Constitution. Copies and translations of the law as signed were transmitted with the Legation’s despatch No. 5969 of November 24, 1933.52 Official copies of the law will be forwarded as soon as it is published in the Diario Oficial. 53

After signing the law, President Olaya sent a message to the President of the Senate, in which the bill originated, making observations regarding certain of the provisions of the law and stating that the Government would present a bill containing proposed amendments to Congress at its next sessions. Copies and translations of the President’s message are enclosed.52

It will be noted that the President did not comment upon Article 2 of the law, the most objectionable portion thereof from the point of view of foreign interests, except to state that it should not be applied to obligations of the National Government. The reason back of this is the Government’s desire and intention to repay the dollar advances [Page 265] made to it by the United Fruit Company in full rather than at the rates stipulated by Article 2 for obligations in foreign currency.

The commercial banks established in Bogotá, both foreign and native, as well as some of the insurance companies operating in Colombia, have recently held several meetings to decide upon the course of action to be taken in defending themselves against the most prejudicial provisions of the debt law. It is understood that they have reached a decision to attack the law in the courts, concentrating on the apparent unconstitutionality of Article 2.

Respectfully yours,

Sheldon Whitehouse
  1. Not printed.
  2. Law 46 of November 28, 1933, was published in the República de Colombia, Diario Oficial of December 5, 1933. (No. 22455, p. 521.)
  3. Not printed.