825.248/239: Telegram

The Ambassador in Chile ( Bowers ) to the Secretary of State

253. Following a meeting of a Chilean Council of Defense which lasted most of the day Rossetti said to us that the Government of Chile accepted all the stipulations made in the offer of planes and batteries with the exception of the number of officers and men accompanying the batteries which could not exceed 100. He insisted that the Chilean Army and Navy had assured him that its personnel were fully competent to set up and operate the batteries without outside assistance. Ten instructors per battery would be ample. However, as a special concession to our point of view they would take 100. He says that Chile needed the batteries and was fully aware of the danger of her position and in fact tomorrow would raise the size of the Eleventh Army from 12,000 to 50,000 and would fortify 30 vulnerable points on the coast. They would accept the location of the four batteries we had proposed but would appreciate a fifth battery to protect coal mines at Lota. All points mentioned in Department’s instructions in this matter in addition to other technical arguments suggested by our advisors were used [Page 13] but Rossetti insisted that, however foolish it might be, it was impossible in view of Chilean psychology at this time to permit any except extremely limited number of foreign military advisors to enter upon Chilean soil. He insisted that material from Germany and the Chilean battleship purchased from England had been taken over and set in operation by the Chilean personnel.

He said that the Government was still planning to call a special session of Congress for the end of the month or the very first days of March but that he could not and would not ask for ratification of the resolution rupture of relations without this material.

He pleaded that the United States furnish the material and asked us to have confidence in the Chilean Army and in the Chilean Government. He said if it were a question of lack of belief in the ability of the Chilean Army to put the batteries immediately into operation, to let it try with one battery—and 25 American instructors—and he was certain the trial would prove his contentions. He said he was sending a personal message immediately to Welles.

After seeing Rossetti we saw General Escudero who expressed understanding of our point of view but said that in view of the unpreparedness of Chilean public opinion the despatch of a large detachment might imperil ratification of the resolution for rupture of relations. He remarked that had Ríos been actually in office that the Government might have been able to accept a larger detachment but that as President elect, he thought, Ríos would be unwilling to attempt to reverse the decision.