800.85/273: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Brazil (Caffery)20

593. Your 939, July 25, 9 p.m.21 Progress is being made in obtaining the acceptance of other American republics to the general plan for utilization of immobilized ships referred to in the Department’s circular telegram of June 24. The Cuban Government has accepted the plan without reservation. The Government of Chile has accepted with one or two minor clarifications and suggestions which do not in any way change the basic plan. The Government of Argentina is also in general agreement with the plan, indicating, however, that it will attempt to arrange the purchase of the ships prior to taking any further action. The Government of Venezuela has indicated that it proposes to requisition the several Italian and German ships which were partially sabotaged and will attempt to purchase the one German and one Italian ship in Venezuelan ports which were not sabotaged.

Such arrangements for the purchase of these ships are of course within the outlines of the broad plan presented by this Government to the Inter-American Financial and Economic Advisory Committee. It is this Government’s view that such attempts to purchase the ships are unlikely to succeed in the near future, and this Government hopes that such negotiations will not unduly delay placing the ships into service.

This Government is most anxious, nevertheless, that the broad plan be accepted at once so that the various countries may go forward with individual arrangements to place the ships into service. Moreover, we are concerned lest the British fail to hold open their agreement to the plan in view of the length of time which it is taking to have the plan put into operation.

The Department hardly needs to remind you that the shipping situation, both with respect to dry cargo vessels and to tankers, is [Page 203] extremely tight and that there is no outlook for improvement during the next 6 or 9 months. This is especially serious in view of the fact that United States vessels are being requested to carry increasingly heavier tonnages of cargoes to the other American republics. This is especially true in the coal and petroleum trades. It will be absolutely impossible for the United States to provide during the foreseeable future even partially adequate shipping facilities to transport all of the essential import requirements of the other American republics southbound and strategic and critical materials and other export staples northbound unless all of the immobilized ships in other American ports are placed immediately into service.

The Department is extremely anxious to have the reply of the Government to which you are accredited not later than Thursday22 when the next meeting of the Inter-American Advisory Committee will take place. These views have all been expressed to the diplomatic representative in Washington of the country to which you are accredited and you are requested to discuss the matter with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at once.

  1. The same telegram on the same date to diplomatic representatives in Colombia, Mexico, and Uruguay.
  2. Not printed.
  3. July 31.