833.24/88: Telegram

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

357. My telegram No. 317, July 23, and Department’s telegram No. 181, July 26, concerning Lend-Lease program for transferring military matériel to Uruguay. Our proposal has now been favorably considered by the Uruguayan Government and Guani tells me that at a Cabinet meeting yesterday he was charged with drafting of a message to Congress requesting its authorization to conclude the proposed agreement. He says that the matter must be submitted to Congress and that the normal procedure would be to publish both the message and the text of the agreement. I have asked him to withhold publication until I can consult the Department with regard to its wishes.

The matter has received already some publicity here. In particular a press despatch concerning yesterday’s meeting of the Cabinet contains the brief statement that it was decided to request Congressional permission for an agreement under which Uruguay would acquire war material in the amount of $17,000,000. One of the minor local newspapers has referred to negotiations under which Uruguay would pay less than half of the value of the material to be acquired.

It is obvious that once the matter is laid before Congress the terms of the proposed agreement will become pretty generally known even if the Government’s message were not published and Congressional discussion were to be in secret session. Since we cannot expect the secret to be properly guarded and any attempt to maintain secrecy is apt to arouse suspicion here and in Buenos Aires and, bearing in mind our previous experience in connection with Congressional discussion of the naval base issue, I am inclined to believe that the best course is full publicity and open debate. I shall appreciate the Department’s prompt instructions for communication to Guani at the earliest possible moment.

Repeated to Embassy at Buenos Aires.