710.Consultation(2)/65: Telegram

The Ambassador in Colombia ( Braden ) to the Secretary of State

168. My telegram No. 162, June 17, 11 p.m.31 Minister for Foreign Affairs32 summoned me this morning to say he and President33 [Page 201] last night had discussed their preoccupation with forthcoming conference of Foreign Ministers at Habana which would be far more important, and perhaps difficult, than the one held at Panama. He trusted his frankness would be understood as that of a friend and in no way as critical. He made the following points:

As a result of feelers by Colombian Government, it seemed in all other Foreign Offices large measure of uncertainty and in many cases even nervousness respecting what should be done at Habana. If meeting were held under these circumstances, it might be a failure. Therefore, it was essential to define exactly the topics for discussion and scope thereof and to approach the meeting on the understanding that it would now become necessary to put into execution much of what hitherto had been more or less theoretical declarations respecting continental solidarity, neutrality, et cetera.
In this connection, it was especially important to define precisely what was contemplated by commodity cartel (sic) mentioned by President Roosevelt in June 21 press conference.34 It would be disastrous if 21 republics at gathering were to have differing view points on this vital matter, to make reservations to such accord as might be reached or even to delay matters by consultation with their respective governments. The Minister was concerned as to what effect on or connection with imports was contemplated in this plan and above all, he wished at Habana to cooperate in getting concrete, effective results.
It is imperative Habana meeting give to European nations impression of complete agreement and unity in action as well as in theory. He suggested that prior to the meeting, formulae covering exactly what was to be done be worked out with various American chancelleries.

I would appreciate instructions as to what reply I should make.

Press despatches here have speculated on variety of topics for agenda. This may have contributed to uncertainty in President’s and Minister’s minds. Therefore, I believe clarification as suggested by the latter certainly would be advantageous here and would assist in lining up Colombia for such program as we desire to present.

The Minister said that, in reply to Brazilian Ambassador’s urging meeting be at Rio de Janeiro, he had stated, while locale made no difference to Colombia, approval of Habana had already been given, hence he could not now change.

  1. Not printed.
  2. Luis López de Mesa.
  3. Eduardo Santos.
  4. See statement by the President released to the press by the White House, Department of State Bulletin, June 22, 1940, p. 675.