561.333D3/73: Telegram

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

279. For the Under Secretary of State. My telegram No. 269, Sept. 14, 1940. Minister for Foreign Affairs telephoned me late this afternoon from President’s palace where he stated he has been in more or less continuous Cabinet sessions for last few days on desperate economic situation resulting from coffee depression. He urgently requested me to meet him at the Foreign Office. On my arrival he was anxious to learn whether I had any reply to my telegram under reference, repeated his previous remarks and added:

Colombian Government’s programs for defense and economic cooperation will be nullified by Congress unless it can be shown that there is the financial wherewithal with which to proceed.
The coffee growing countries previously cited and other minor producers would not be asked to make greater or even as great sacrifices as Colombia. In order to take advantage of existing situation some of them are demanding quotas larger than present production.
Since any request by Colombia would be ignored, he earnestly begged that the United States call these facts to their attention, simultaneously indicating that if they fail to respond, it would in effect mean they were destroying continental solidarity, defense and economic cooperation.
He hoped you could bring this matter up at tomorrow morning’s subcommittee meeting and with full Inter-American Economic Consultative Committee14 in the afternoon, and induce these countries at least to accept and put in operation immediately the New York quota agreement pending negotiation of new accord.

I agreed to telegraph you forthwith, but, since my impression is that Colombia has so far made no quantitative sacrifices, and inasmuch as competitor countries are conceivably making similar accusations against Colombia, I said: As I had repeatedly stated publicly and privately here, the one thing I unequivocally prophesied was that irrespective of developments, all our countries would have to go through [Page 400] hell and the only question was in what degree, individually or collectively, we might be able to mitigate impending difficulties.

While, as indicated in last paragraph of my telegram under reference, the situation is critical, nevertheless the Government is floundering in all directions and in my opinion increased economic distress is likely still further to complicate the already delicate political situation.

Please expedite instructions as to what reply I may make.

  1. Reference is to the Inter-American Financial and Economic Advisory Committee.