721.23/2445: Telegram

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

19. I visited Dr. Olaya in his home last night and he outlined the following program of events within the next few days. He has accepted the post of Minister for Foreign Affairs and will assume office this morning. He will appear before the Senate this afternoon and state briefly the Government’s position with regard to the Rio pact. The pact will be voted upon and it is expected that it will be defeated by two or three votes. Dr. Olaya will then immediately read a Presidential decree adjourning Congress. The Government will direct a note to the Peruvian Government expressing its amicable feelings and its intention to submit the pact again to Congress when it meets on July 20 after the elections. Declarations of the Colombian Government’s position and its desire for the most friendly relations with Peru will be handed to all diplomatic representatives in Bogotá.

[Page 210]

Dr. Olaya is confident that the Liberals will gain a sweeping victory in the May elections and that the vote in favor of the pact will be overwhelming when the new Congress meets in July. He regrets that the position the Colombian Government find it necessary to take created an atmosphere of uncertainty in the two countries especially as he believes that public opinion in Colombia, Conservative as well as Liberal, favors immediate approval of the pact. He hopes Peru will agree by an exchange of notes to continuance of the status quo as far as Leticia is concerned and that she will also agree to an exchange of ratification of the pact later in the year.

Dr. Olaya stated that President Lopez could undoubtedly have secured almost unanimous ratification in August or September but that he was then more interested in certain internal problems; that his internal program has failed completely; that the President now wishes to ally his fortunes with the pact and has requested Dr. Olaya to remain in Cabinet during the election campaign and until it is ratified. Dr. Olaya states that he has arrived at a definite understanding with President Lopez regarding the policies to be pursued; that the molesting of foreign companies in Colombia must cease; that though the American-Colombian commercial treaty cannot now be ratified by the Colombian Congress until the latter half of the year yet the negotiations will be expedited immediately; that he desires especially to keep in extremely close touch with the American Government through this Legation.