The Ambassador in Uruguay (Dawson) to the Secretary of State

No. 184

Sir: I have the honor to refer to the Department’s circular telegram of August 30, 1941, containing a statement to be communicated to the Uruguayan Minister of Foreign Relations regarding measures taken by our Government to assure the delivery of petroleum products to the other American Republics.

The full text of the statement was communicated to the Uruguayan Foreign Office in a note dated September 1. I handed the note personally to Dr. Guani6 and in so doing I emphasized the importance of the cooperation of the Uruguayan Government, with particular reference to the establishment of a National Oil Pool Committee. I told Dr. Guani at the same time that it was desired that appropriate publicity be given the statement, adding that I would be guided by his wishes as to whether the text should be furnished to the press by the Foreign Office or by the Embassy. He replied that he would be glad to take care of the matter and in due course the Foreign Office transmitted to the press a communiqué, the text of which I enclose as published in La Mañana on September 4,7 It may be noted that the Spanish translation of the Department’s statement given in the communiqué is that prepared by Mr. Joseph F. Walker of the Embassy staff. (In order to obtain prompt consideration on the part of the Foreign Office, the Embassy finds it necessary in all important cases to transmit with its notes Spanish translations which bear the caption “Traducción—No Oficial”.)

In my interview with Dr. Guani, he assured me that the matter would be given early consideration. However, it was not until September 24, that any positive action was taken and then this action [Page 178] was in the form of a decree (the text of which is enclosed)8 designating an Advisory Board (Comisión Asesora) charged with studying the matter and submitting a report within eight days. This Board is made up of representatives of the Foreign Office, the Ministry of Industries and Labor, the Ancap,9 and the recently instituted Board for the Rationing of Fuel.

Following the publication of the decree, I asked the local representatives of the West India Oil Company and the Atlantic Refining Company to call at the Embassy in order that I might discuss the situation with them before seeing Dr. Guani, with whom I had an appointment last evening. (As the Department is aware, these two companies import their own fuel oil which is refined for them by the Ancap. On the other hand the Texas Oil Company, although represented here and engaged in the distribution of refined products obtained from the Ancap, does not import its own crude oil.) Mr. Samuel Frazer, of the Atlantic Refining Company, told me that he had been informed confidentially that the Advisory Board designated by the Decree of September 24 had already prepared its report and would recommend the setting up of a National Oil Pool Committee to be composed of only three members representing respectively the Ministry of Industries, the Ancap, and the foreign companies which import crude oil (namely the two American concerns mentioned above and Shell Mex Uruguay Ltda.).

Mr. Frazer said that he considered it important that each one of the three companies concerned have its representative on the Committee. He said that he realized that the Uruguayan Government would be loath to designate a Committee a majority of whose members would be representatives of foreign concerns. He expressed, however, the opinion that the companies would be in a better position to protect their interests if the Committee had seven members—four representing the Government and three representing the companies.

When I saw Dr. Guani last evening, I referred to the decree of September 24 and remarked that I presumed that the Advisory Board for which it provided was not the National Oil Pool Committee contemplated in the Department’s statement. (Mr. Frazer had asked me not to intimate to Dr. Guani that I had received any advices regarding the prospective recommendations of the Board, since the information had been furnished him confidentially.) With reference to the National Oil Pool Committee contemplated by the Department, I took occasion to refresh Dr. Guani’s memory and quoted the pertinent portion of the Department’s statement regarding representation on behalf of “each of the principal oil supplying organizations”. The Minister said very frankly that the Government could hardly set up a committee [Page 179] on which the private companies would be in the majority. To this I replied that, as far as I was aware, there would be no objection to the Government’s appointing as many official representatives as it desired, and that by appointing three officials and a representative of Ancap, the Government could provide for representation of the three companies and still have a majority. Again very frankly, Dr. Guani said that in his opinion the representative of the Ancap could hardly be considered as representing the Government in view of the very independent attitude frequently assumed by that body. He expressed also the personal opinion that the Committee should not be large and unwieldy. He promised, however, to give due consideration to my observations.

Respectfully yours,

William Dawson
  1. Alberto Guani, Minister for Foreign Affairs.
  2. Not reprinted.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Administratión Nacional de Combustibles, Alcohol, y Portland.