821.51/2612: Telegram

The Chargé in Colombia ( Keith ) to the Secretary of State

145. Following Dr. Turbay’s arrival May 6, continuous and varied publicity has been given to question of a loan to Colombia, [Page 64] news reports from Washington quoted Jesse Jones to effect that a 6 million dollar Export-Import Bank loan had been granted to Colombia and that no further loans were on application. Confusion subsequently resulted from a statement by the Colombian Minister of Finance who when questioned regarding the matter declared in the press on May 8 that the amount of the new credits had not been determined and would be a question for discussion in New York and Washington with the Colombian Ambassador who was receiving precise instructions thereon.

Still further on May 9th Turbay declared to the press

“The data published regarding the amount and terms of the projected loan of the Export-Import Bank are absolutely without foundation. It is evident that before my trip to this country I discussed with the appropriate parties certain aspects of the loan which will be concluded and which constitutes a part of the program of economic cooperation by the United States. My presence here has precisely as its objective to agree with the Government on the specific bases for the negotiations and certain details of the program for the corresponding allocations. To which end I have initiated the necessary study with the Ministries of Finance, Public Works, National Economy and War. The versions which may be published are solely based on supposition as the definitive program is being completed precisely at this time.

As a result of the negotiations up to now I believe I can affirm that on my return negotiations will be concluded in a short time in a satisfactory form.”

Today there is published under a Washington date line an Associated Press despatch that a well informed source has reiterated that Colombia requested a credit of 6 million which was conceded promptly, and added that there is no pending request for more credit.

Considerable editorial space has been devoted to this subject and has been in a vein to create the expectation that more than 6 million would be forthcoming.

Ambassador Turbay and Secretary General of the Foreign Office were at my house yesterday and neither they nor I made any reference to the loan.

This morning the President summoned me both to give me certain information on another subject I had previously requested and obviously also to speak in strict confidence of the confusion which had resulted from the press publicity regarding the amount of the loan. In view of this and that certain factors had changed since he and the Ambassador had last discussed the matter he said he would appreciate my informing the Ambassador as he passes through Barranquilla that he would be grateful if no mention were made regarding the amount of the loan until he had had an opportunity personally [Page 65] to inform him of the present situation. I believe the President feels that following the return of Dr. Turbay to Washington, who will arrive there May 14, and of the Ambassador here the issue can, aided by their presence, be resolved with avoidance of public misunderstanding. Already today there is a tendency to let the issue subside in the shadow of the news regarding the bonded debt conversion and the efforts of Turbay towards Liberal Party unity. The whole problem is unquestionably complicated by Dr. Lopez’91 bitter antipathy towards Santos and the consequent critical publicity primarily in El Liberal.

Certain newspaper clippings forwarded direct air mail to Satterthwaite92 today.

  1. Alfonso Lopez, President of Colombia, 1934–38.
  2. Livingston Satterthwaite of the Division of the American Republics.