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

No. 132

Sir: I have the honor to refer to my despatch No. 112 of September 4, 1941,12 and to previous correspondence regarding the proposed transfer of military matériel to Uruguay under the Lend-Lease program.

The only new development in the matter since my last despatch has been an interview which Mr. Chapin and I had on September 5 at the Foreign Office with the Ministers of Foreign Relations, National Defense, and Finance.13 The conference was arranged at Dr. Guani’s request for the purpose of discussing certain points in the Department’s draft of the proposed agreement which were not quite clear to the Uruguayan officials.

The only point of any importance concerning which they desired information was the amount of matériel which Uruguay would receive during the first twelve months. It developed in the course of the conversation that, since Uruguay was to be called upon to pay only $1,300,000 per annum, certain members of the Cabinet feared that this meant that matériel to be delivered during the twelve-month period would not exceed this amount. Mr. Chapin and I dispelled their doubts on this score and pointed out that, as I had previously informed Dr. Guani and as he was presumably advised by his representative in Washington, the Department had expressly stated that it was expected that $2,000,000 of army matériel and $1,000,000 of [Page 556] navy matériel would be transferred to Uruguay during the first twelve months.

The Minister of National Defense said that while he was glad to know that the delivery of matériel amounting to $3,000,000 was contemplated during the coming twelve months, even this amount was substantially below Uruguay’s immediate requirements which were estimated at $5,000,000. He said that he was afraid that opposition in Congress would center around this point and that the Government’s position would be much stronger if it appeared that Uruguay would receive promptly the matériel—particularly training planes—which the Government has stated to be urgently required for defense. Mr. Chapin and I told General Roletti and his colleagues that, while we were confident that our Government would do everything practicable to meet Uruguay’s needs, deliveries would have to be governed largely by production and our own requirements. Mr. Chapin pointed out that the filling of Uruguay’s needs might be facilitated to some extent if, in specifying items required, some latitude were left for the substitution of matériel which we might not be able to furnish promptly owing to other urgent defense demands.

After some further discussion, General Roletti said that it might be found possible to amend Article 1 so as to provide for deliveries totalling $5,000,000 during the fifteen months following the signing of the agreement. He said that he would consider such a provision satisfactory and believed that it would satisfy the Uruguayan Congress. Dr. Guani intimated that instructions might be sent to the Uruguayan Ambassador in Washington to suggest such a change to the Department. Whether or not such instructions have been or will be sent, I do not know.

With reference to my telegram No. 357 of August 20 and the Department’s telegram No. 208 of August 22, concerning publication of the proposed agreement, I may say that in the course of our interview on September 5, Dr. Guani stated that he no longer considered it advisable to publish the full text of the agreement in submitting the matter to Congress, since he had reached the conclusion that the wording of certain clauses might be misunderstood by the public. He said, however, that the Government’s message to Congress would be published and would contain a summary of the agreement setting forth the principal provisions including, of course, the financial conditions. Mr. Chapin and I both feel that publication of this information is inevitable and desirable and that any attempt to maintain secrecy regarding a matter which cannot be kept secret would arouse suspicion and have unfortunate repercussions. I suggested to Dr. Guani that he might like to let me see the text of the message to Congress before it was actually sent and he said that he would do so. I made this suggestion because of my desire to be in a position, if [Page 557] possible, to clear up any misunderstanding which may still linger in the minds of the Cabinet before the message goes to Congress. In spite of my previous conversations with Dr. Guani and my efforts to make all phases of the proposed agreement clear both to him (and to the President), I was surprised to find that, at the beginning of our recent interview, he was still in doubt as to so important a point as that referred to above.

Respectfully yours,

William Dawson
  1. Not printed.
  2. Javier Mendivil.