The Minister in Costa Rica ( Sack ) to the Secretary of State

No. 1078

Sir: I have the honor to inform the Department that the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Raúl Gurdián, has proposed that signature [Page 379] of the pending trade agreement be postponed until after the inauguration of the government of Mr. León Cortés on May 8. It is his plan, however, he says to complete the pending negotiations and approve a preliminary draft of the agreement (before it is prepared in final form for signature) during the remaining five weeks of President Jiménez’ administration.

Mr. Gurdián’s suggestion was not altogether a surprise to me … Mr. Gurdián told me this morning that his object in suggesting further delay was to ensure congressional approval of the agreement, explaining that he felt that as a matter of political strategy it would have a better chance of approval by Congress if it were to be signed in the administration of President-elect Cortés.

The Foreign Minister pointed out that the present administration is drawing to a close and consequently has lost much of its influence in Congress and that many of President Jiménez’ former supporters in that body have turned against him. He expressed the opinion that even though it were signed now it would be unwise to submit it to the present Congress. He reminded me that in the next Congress, Mr. Cortés will have thirty-two adherents out of the total of 43 deputies. In this connection Mr. Gurdián wishes to have Mr. Cortés study the treaty even before assuming office, so that once Congress meets, he will be prepared to give the question immediate attention, and also recommend immediate approval by Congress.

Mr. Gurdián was most emphatic in assuring me that he had not in any sense altered his support of the agreement and promised to give it his strongest support as Minister of Finance in the new cabinet. His plan is to have it in final form as soon as possible so that there will be no further delay when the new government takes office. He is confident that the new Minister for Foreign Affairs, Manuel Francisco Jiménez will give his approval to the agreement, as will the new President, Mr. Cortés.

Mr. Gurdián told me in this morning’s conversation that he had not as yet discussed the subject with President Jiménez but that he was sure that his proposal would be approved by him, in the best interests of the country.

I believe that Mr. Gurdián’s suggestion is sound political strategy. Obviously, one administration would not take as much interest in securing congressional approval of an agreement which had been negotiated by a previous administration as it would in something which it felt to be its own handiwork.

It is my desire, of course, to obtain congressional ratification of the agreement and this, I am confident, will be much easier in the forthcoming Cortés administration than under President Jiménez.

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I hope that between now and the early part of May it will be possible to have the agreement ready for signature and if, as I anticipate, Mr. Cortés gives the word, prompt approval by Congress would be practically a foregone conclusion.

Respectfully yours,

Leo R. Sack