721.23/2444: Telegram

The Chargé in Colombia (Washington) to the Secretary of State

18. At the request of Dr. Olaya I called at his house this afternoon. He informed me that he would probably accept the post of Minister for Foreign Affairs and assume office tomorrow although before doing so he wishes to see his way clear toward a solution of the problem of the Rio de Janeiro pact. He says that the question of its ratification by the Colombian Senate depends upon two or three very uncertain votes and he is not sure that approval will be given without some qualifying statement or condition attached. His conversation with me dwelt principally upon the possibility of obtaining Peru’s agreement to two or three interpretative amendments or additions. He is not pleased with the intervention of the League of Nations in the matter, being particularly distrustful of the British attitude toward Colombia in the latter’s relations with Peru. He expects to confer with Dr. Belaunde, Peruvian Minister to Colombia, but is not certain as to the extent that the latter voices the opinion of the Peruvian Government or is able to influence its decisions.

Dr. Olaya stated that unless he felt that approval would certainly be given by the Colombian Senate in a form which would be satisfactory to Peru he would advise the President to close the Colombian Congress and resubmit the Pact to the new Congress which he expects to be elected with a substantial Liberal majority in the month of May.

[Page 209]

Though Dr. Olaya has not yet made any requests of me, he clearly inferred that he would be pleased if he could be informed confidentially through the United States Government regarding the probable attitude of the Peruvian Government in the event, (1) that the Colombian Senate should put the Colombian Government in the position of having to request Peru’s agreement to certain interpretative modifications of the pact or, (2) that the Colombian Government seeing the impossibility of securing approval by the present Colombian Senate should dissolve Congress immediately and propose an exchange of notes between Peru and Colombia providing for ratification before the end of 1935.

I explained to Dr. Olaya your interest in proceeding with the negotiations for the commercial treaty.7 He said that he would speak to the President about the matter and try to expedite the Colombian reply to the American proposals. However, he added that the question of the Rio pact must be settled first and that if it were decided to close the sessions of the present Colombian Congress because of the apparent impossibility of obtaining favorable action on the foregoing pact it would be necessary for reasons of internal politics to do so immediately and this would prevent the consideration by that body of any commercial treaty which might be signed with the United States until the new Congress should meet in July next.

  1. See pp. 430 ff.