740.00111A Neutrality Patrol/186

The Chilean Minister for Foreign Affairs and Commerce ( Rossetti ) to the American Ambassador in Chile ( Bowers )14

No. 38

Mr. Ambassador: I have the honor to acknowledge receipt of Your Excellency’s note 697 of the 20th instant, by means of which and in [Page 558] fulfillment of instructions from your Government you request that general authorization be granted to the ships of the United States Navy who are engaged in patrol activities to enter the ports of Antofagasta and Valparaiso for the purpose of obtaining fuel and supplies. The commanders of these ships would notify the Consuls at Valparaiso and Antofagasta concerning their arrival as far in advance as possible, in order that this might be communicated to the appropriate Chilean officials.

Your Excellency adds that in the event that this authorization is obtained, the Naval authorities of the United States have the intention of purchasing fuel in the local market, as long as there may be a sufficient quantity available, but as it may be necessary to transport fuel oil in tank steamers to Antofagasta and Valparaiso, it is desired that the Chilean Government exempt this merchandise from customs duties and other charges, not including the reasonable expenses incurred by the distributing companies in connection with storage and transportation.

Furthermore, the note of Your Excellency requests that permission be granted to the Navy Department of the United States to reach a suitable understanding with the local distributing companies in order that the latter may provide sufficient space to store 5000 barrels at Valparaiso and 5000 at Antofagasta, into which the tank steamers may discharge their cargoes.

As the purpose of the foregoing is to control the activity of certain raiders in the Pacific Ocean, Your Excellency’s Government entertains the hope that favorable consideration will be granted to this request in the interest of Hemisphere defense.

Finally, Your Excellency states that the Government of the United States will have the greatest satisfaction to grant reciprocal facilities to the ships of the Chilean Navy, which may desire to use for similar purposes such ports on the Pacific coast of the United States as the competent Chilean Naval authorities may designate.

In reply, I am pleased to express to Your Excellency that the Government of Chile, in order to give evidence of its spirit of continental solidarity in the defense of our Hemisphere, and with a desire of showing once more the spirit of collaboration with which it is inspired in regard to the United States, accepts, on the basis of the abovementioned reciprocity, the proposal that the ships of the American Navy enter the ports of Antofagasta and Valparaiso, provided that previous notification is given by the respective consuls to the appropriate Chilean authorities.

The Government of Chile cannot of its own accord free from customs duties the fuel and other articles which will be imported into the country for the purpose of supplying these ships, in as much as this [Page 559] would require legislative action which would mean a long delay and be accompanied by many difficulties.

The Chilean Government is disposed to grant all facilities compatible with existing legislation and to permit that sufficient space will be provided at the aforementioned harbors to store the necessary fuel.

With respect to the latter subject, the Chilean Government would desire to obtain from the Government of the United States the assurance that the stock of fuel thus established could be used to meet the national necessities in urgent cases provided appropriate payment is made in cash, or the fuel thus utilized is replaced after the conditions which have impelled such action have disappeared.

Finally, the Government of Chile will not be obliged to pay for the installations or improvements which may be established at the ports of Antofagasta and Valparaiso. These would be permitted to remain for the benefit of the local population as soon as the facilities now granted have terminated through becoming unnecessary.

I avail myself [etc.]

Juan B. Rossetti
  1. Copy transmitted to the Department by the Ambassador In Chile with his letter of October 27, 1941, addressed to Mr. Welles.