824.6363 St 2/523

Memorandum of Conversation, by the Acting Chief of the Division of the American Republics (Bonsal)

The Bolivian Minister4 came in at his own request at 11 a.m.

He informed me that the Bolivian Senate is now actively debating the Standard Oil question and that there is a very good chance that the Minister will be authorized before March 31 to engage in official conversations with representatives of the Standard Oil Company looking to a solution of the problem.

In order to create a favorable atmosphere in Bolivia the Bolivian cabinet, and especially the Foreign Minister, Dr. Ostria Gutiérrez, is publishing some of the “antecedentes of the question”.

In this connection it is desired to publish a personal exchange of letters which took place in May 19375 between Secretary Hull and the then Bolivian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Finot. The Minister told me that he understood this publication had already been arranged for and that he expected the material would be available to the press today or tomorrow (I am informed that a story based on these two letters appeared in this morning’s New York Herald Tribune).

The Bolivian Minister also told me that it was planned to publish the texts of three telegrams in non-confidential code of which two were from the American delegation at Panama to the Department [Page 465] and one from the Department to the American delegation at Panama.6 According to the Minister, copies of these were handed to him or to Dr. Ostria by Dr. Feis7 at Panama. These telegrams deal with the consideration of a $2,000,000 loan to Bolivia8 and tend to demonstrate that, in the conversations between the Bolivian delegates and our delegates at Panama no mention was made of the Standard Oil matter as having a bearing on whether or not the loan would be granted. I plan to tell Dr. Guaehalla that it would be preferable to publish this material in some other form than that of telegrams actually exchanged between the Department and its delegation at Panama. The material itself is innocuous; it merely shows a disposition on our part to study sympathetically Bolivia’s alleged economic problems caused by the outbreak of the war.

Late in the afternoon I had an opportunity of examining the file containing the exchange between Secretary Hull and Señor Finot in May 1937. In view of the fact that the Secretary’s message was “personal and confidential” I telephoned the Bolivian Minister and stated that in my opinion it would be better for there to be no publication until the Secretary had been consulted. I stated that this observation of mine was in no sense based upon the contents of the Secretary’s message but rather upon its character. The Bolivian Minister said that he would immediately telegraph La Paz along the lines of my remarks but that it was his impression that it was now too late to prevent or delay this publication.

  1. Luis Fernando Guachalla.
  2. For text of letter from Secretary of State Hull, see telegram No. 14, May 7, 1937, 1 p.m., to the Minister in Bolivia, Foreign Relations, 1937, vol. v, p. 284. Text of reply is not printed, hut see telegram No. 30, May 16, 1937, 4 p.m., from the Minister in Bolivia, ibid., p. 289.
  3. For correspondence concerning the meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the American Republics held at Panama September 23–October 3, 1939, see Foreign Relations, 1939, vol. v, pp. 15 ff.
  4. Herbert Feis, Adviser on International Economic Affairs; adviser at the meeting of Foreign Ministers of the American Republics, Panama, 1939.
  5. For correspondence regarding proposed extension by the United States of financial assistance to the Government of Bolivia, see Foreign Relations, 1939, vol. v, pp. 313 ff.