The Ambassador in Chile (Bowers) to the Secretary of State
[Received December 11—4:38 a.m.]
727. For Secretary, Under Secretary and President. Have seen Rossetti second time today. He has finally forced ratification of agreements of Lima, Panama and Habana. Has fought through Council of Ministers declaration of Chile’s position on the war. Has taken steps for protection of our property against sabotage. Has put Chile definitely in our orbit and is pledged to Aranha to put Chile with Brazil and the United States, this activity on his part has concentrated against him all our enemies in Congress and outside, and in the Council yesterday he was attacked on the ground that he has not been able to solve economic problems with us. Pedregal19 attacked us on copper. Minister of Agriculture because we have not sent steel wire which is primary necessity. Rossetti got his way by threatening to resign and the Vice President supported him and he won.
I am positive Rossetti supporting us fully and against opposition far more powerful than any Aranha can encounter. Discussed matters with my staff, and found general agreement and in view of the pressing and paramount importance of the war and our need of Chile now, I make the following recommendations.
1. (a) That we yield to Chile’s proposition on copper rather than endanger our position on the supreme issue over a quarter of a cent per pound.
(b) That we discuss with the National City Bank a possible reconsideration of its rigid position on the loan matter, since part payment [Page 561] in pesos under certain conditions was not thought impossible by the bank here.
I personally, as you know, have fought for the copper people and the bank but now that an issue has been forced upon us which involves our interests in the war I feel that the situation has changed. I believe that we cannot let Rossetti down in view of the kind of enemies who are after him.
2. There is a general alarm here, shared by Rossetti, that Chile may be attacked from the sea. Rossetti has ordered the patrol of the coast, preparation for the calling of naval reserves, and a substantial increase in the number. General Escudero is organizing for the protection of our mines. But Rossetti feels very strongly that there should be an understanding between the two General Staffs to the end that Chile may not be entirely in the dark as to what she can expect from us if attacked. He is convinced that Japanese ships are off Chanaral and Tocopilla in the region of the mines.
Rossetti says the attitude of the Japanese Minister is insolent and sarcastic and demanding and cold and Rossetti shares the belief that Chile is very likely to be attacked probably because of supporting forces for Japanese in Chile. He feels Chile would be the center of Japanese fire for all the continent.
3. In Congress where he has thus far won every fight with part of the Rights and Nazis he has been asked if he has any direct assurance that the United States would go to support of Chile if attacked and he has nothing to sustain him beyond assurances by word of mouth. This has made his position so weak that he admits having said this week that he had direct assurances. He feels that he should have something in writing not for publication but for use in secret session in case of necessity. I personally feel he is entitled to it.
To sum up my conclusion is this:
- We must give some attention to the essential needs of Chile to prevent unemployment furnished in my telegram No. 645 of November 25, 6 p.m.20
- We should give some more, my telegram No. 678, December 2, midnight, regarding what we can do about material for fortification of the Straits.
- We should send the tanks urgently asked by General Escudero, see telegram No. 722, December 10, 2 p.m.20
- We should give Rossetti written assurance of our aid in case Chile is attacked for his own protection in case he should be attacked for use in secret. I urge this be sent as soon as possible.
- We should yield that quarter cent on copper and try to persuade National City Bank to be less rigid on the loan since the bank here did not think Chilean proposal at all impossible.21