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

No. 317

Sir: I have the honor to refer to my despatch No. 297, of July 27, 1940,67 in regard to sources of news in the Bolivian press, and to report that, since the date of that despatch, the German Legation has become more open in transmitting so-called news bulletins direct to the Bolivian press instead of through the German propaganda committee.

This change in tactics has been careless enough so that a news bulletin under the heading “The End of the Habana Conference Disillusions Anglo-American Imperialism” was sent, apparently by inadvertence, [Page 808] to La Razón, the sole La Paz newspaper which is definitely pro-American and anti-German. This news bulletin was seen by an officer of the Legation. It was mimeographed on paper bearing the letterhead of the German Legation. An English translation of the Spanish text is enclosed.

La Razón published the news bulletin in full in its edition of August 2, 1940, as an example of the improper activities of the German Legation, making the following comment:

“An idiotic employee of the German Legation has sent us the following bulletin which we print so that the sensible public may enjoy this German joke. It is probable that this absurdity will be published today in some of our colleagues as a ‘Special’ cable or credited to T. O. (Trans-Ocean), P. P., P. O., P. U., K. O., Z. M. or some other set of initials.”

La Razón’ s publication of the article seems to have forestalled its being carried by any of the normal press vehicles for German propaganda in La Paz if such was the intention.

It should be mentioned that this Legation has, for some time, been receiving from the German Legation copies of bulletins on the same letterhead and in the same general form. These have, however, been carefully selected and only anti-British, not anti-American propaganda, has been received.

Prior to the Franco-German armistice,68 this Legation also received propaganda bulletins from the French Legation but, before starting to send these, a member of the staff of this office was asked by the French Minister whether the Legation would like to receive them and was informed that it would. The German Legation has never enquired whether this office desired to receive its bulletins which have been sent entirely gratuitously. Neither the British nor the Italian Legations, the other belligerent missions in La Paz, seem to broadcast any news or propaganda bulletins.

Because of the Bolivian national holidays, it has been impossible for me to take up with the Foreign Minister the question of the German bulletin sent to and published in La Razón. I do, however, intend to discuss the matter with him tomorrow in all its aspects, including the impropriety of the German Legation’s action. The question would appear to be of as much interest to the Bolivian Government as to ourselves or the rest of the American Republics since the bulletin is critical of the Habana Meeting as a whole. The bulletin seems obviously intended to arouse Latin American doubts as to the accomplishments of the meetings. I shall report to the Department the attitude of the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Respectfully yours,

Douglas Jenkins
[Page 809]

Press Release by the German Legation in Bolivia, July 30, 1940

The End of the Habana Conference Disillusions Anglo-American Imperialism

The Conference of Habana terminated with a resolution in which all the American States mutually assure one another that they will intervene against any transfer of British, French or Dutch possessions in the western hemisphere to third powers which are not American.

No concrete agreement was reached in regard to this question. Article 5 stresses the provisional character of the Convention. The general agreement and the announcement made in regard to it in which the American States express their support of the freedom of world commerce is hailed in the North American as well as the Latin American press and the newspapers of some countries take pride in stating that their country’s point of view prevailed. From this it may be deduced that the object of certain elements at the Conference, i. e., a common front of the American States against the new order in Europe, has not been attained. Above all, the prudent wording in regard to the colonies of the Allies in America leads to the conclusion that the Latin American countries evaded all possibility of being enmeshed in the European conflict as the result of intervening in those territories.

Although the American States thus maintained their complete freedom of political and economic action, the negotiations, as negotiations, were of fundamental importance.

For the first time before the forum of the New World and in the presence of official representatives the defeat of Great Britain was exposed as a fact, the division of its inheritance being placed in discussion. One portion of the British Empire was declared ripe for mandate.

The Powers which met to make this declaration are not, of course, enemies of England; on the contrary, among them are countries which Great Britain itself considers as friends and helpers. Thus, there is to be seen on a world political stage a drama made familiar through many human tragedies: it is the dearest and closest relatives who are made happiest by the death of the patriarch. Their impatience to divide the inheritance makes them try to hasten the end of the dying man before his enemies have given him the coup de grace. However, although London carried the British people into the war under the pretext of combatting the supposed National Socialistic plans to share the world, it must be noted with displeasure that the first steps toward such a partition come from that part of the world which has been lauded as an example of democratic liberty and love of peace.

  1. Not printed.
  2. Signed June 22, 1940; Documents on German Foreign Policy, 1918–1945, series D, Vol. ix, p. 671.