The Ambassador in Chile (Bowers) to the Secretary of State
[Received 9 p.m.]
956. From the outset the Chilean Government has shown unwillingness to face the facts regarding the petroleum situation. Instead of accepting the evident necessity for a sharp reduction in normal consumption and making an honest effort to meet our ideas, it has tried, through bargaining tactics, to get just as much as possible although membership in the Latin American pool implies cooperation in the common interest. Furthermore, the Government has done nothing to correct the false impression in the mind of the public resulting from misleading and inaccurate press stories that there is no shortage even of tankers sufficient to justify the present curtailment of supplies and consequently that the United States is merely exerting pressure on Chile.
Equal reduction of petroleum consumption may mean very unequal sacrifice in the different countries and there is no doubt that in Chile the curtailment to two-thirds of 1941 consumption means severe hardship. Thus, Chile has valid arguments available but by its tactics it is not only prejudicing its own case but allowing an unnecessary growth antagonism against the United States. This situation is so unfortunate for both countries that I feel strongly it should be cleared up in order that further discussion of the petroleum problem may be on a practical instead of a bargaining basis. I recommend the Department to instruct me by cable to take up the matter with the Chilean Government in line with the foregoing.