The Minister in Bolivia ( Norweb ) to the Secretary of State

No. 77

Sir: I have the honor to report that according to Señor Carlos Victor Aramayo, the second largest producer of tin ore in Bolivia and formerly Bolivian Minister in London, President Toro23 recently discussed with him the world tin situation and the question of diverting Bolivian production to the United States. He stated to Colonel Toro that as Señor Patiño is the producer of more than one-half of the Bolivian output and is believed to have large potential resources under his control as yet undeveloped in any way, any arrangement looking toward diverting the ore to the United States must be agreeable to him. Señor Aramayo told me privately in this connection that he believed Señor Patiño might be willing to write off his possible losses in English smelteries controlled by him should some compensating arrangement be made. Such losses on the part of Señor Patiño would be only partial since he controls other tin mining interests which would compensate for his losses in not smelting ore produced in Bolivia. Colonel Toro is said to have expressed the feeling that Bolivia should not lose its position in the Tin Pool, but since the Pool is influenced in a large measure by Señor Patiño some arrangement would undoubtedly be made before the matter was made public in any way.

However, in view of the continued failure of Bolivia to fill its allotted quota, questions arising at this time with regard to this matter must be looked at with at least some suspicion and it may be that Bolivian producers hope that, through a seemingly premature announcement regarding plans to have Bolivian ore smelted in the United States, they may be able to retain their position in the Pool. Since they have had to relinquish a portion of their quota during the present year their position is not so strong as it might be. The withdrawal of Bolivia would have serious consequences but should it do so, and the price of tin fall, the arrangements regarding smelting in the United States would necessarily have to include some compensation to offset Bolivia’s position as the producing nation having the highest production costs.

During the afternoon of the same day the Minister for Foreign Affairs again, but apparently independently, brought up the subject. He stated that he was interested in the fact that Dr. Herbert Feis24 would be at the Conference in Buenos Aires25 since he knows that [Page 240] Dr. Feis is interested in this question, and that he, Señor Finot, would take that opportunity of discussing the matter with the Secretary of State.

Señor Aramayo’s statements have probably been influenced by recent discussions he is said to have had with Señor Patiño in Paris and his own reflections on the uncertainty of the European situation which were published in the press in Buenos Aires on his return to Bolivia. Political disturbances in Europe which might lead to war would increase the price of tin but would make the delivery of Bolivian ores to European smelteries uncertain.

Respectfully yours,

R. Henry Norweb
  1. Colonel David Toro, President of the governing Junta of Bolivia; see pp. 220 ff.
  2. Economic Adviser, Department of State.
  3. Inter-American Conference for the Maintenance of Peace, Buenos Aires, December 1–23, 1936; see pp. 3 ff.