The Ambassador in Chile (Bowers) to the Secretary of State
[Received August 18.]
Sir: I have the honor to transmit herewith a translation of a note from the Minister of Foreign Affairs55 No. 05349, dated August 10, 1942, accompanied by a memorandum prepared by the Ministry of Commerce,56 in reply to the Embassy’s note of July 6, 1942, which was based on the Department’s circular telegram, dated June 30 [29?], 1942,57 announcing the necessity for a further reduction in petroleum deliveries. In the latter memorandum reference is made to the Ministry’s previous communications regarding the petroleum problem and to the fact that no communication has been received from the Embassy in reply setting forth the opinion of the competent American authorities with regard to Chile’s estimates of its indispensable needs. In the present instance a specific request is made that the additional information now furnished be transmitted to the Government of the United States in order that consideration may be given to the possibility of authorizing the delivery of 12,000,000 liters of gasoline per month, which is considered the quantity indispensable to the Chilean economy. In this connection reference is made to the Embassy’s despatches No. 3480 of June 1, 1942, No. 3549 of June 9, 1942, and No. 3574 of June 11, 1942,58 with which were transmitted the three communications received from the Chilean Government on the subject of the country’s petroleum requirements, together with the Embassy’s comments.
In my opinion, the additional data now furnished are by no means of a convincing character and do little to support Chile’s claim that it must receive larger supplies of petroleum products if essential needs are to be taken care of. The figure of 12,000,000 liters of gasoline per [Page 108] month is entirely arbitrary and is evidently put forward as a trading proposition. Particularly in the matter of private cars there is still little evidence that the rationing of gasoline has had pronounced effects on the number in circulation and, in the case of other petroleum products, it is admitted that little has been done toward reducing normal consumption. The Embassy knew that the Ministry of Commerce, which is handling the petroleum problem, was preparing its case and hoped that instead of repeating the same general arguments which had prevously been put forward specific facts and figures would be presented, showing in detail the quantities of the various petroleum products required for essential uses and the quantities now being supplied under the reduced delivery schedule.
A further attempt will be made to obtain data of this character which will be transmitted promptly with the Embassy’s comments. Meanwhile, unless and until the Chilean Government demonstrates that it has done everything possible to eliminate all waste and unessential consumption of petroleum products it does not seem desirable that our Government should agree to increase the schedule of deliveries now in effect. This statement is made despite the fact that in the Embassy’s opinion that schedule does place Chile in an extremely difficult position.