740.0011 European War 1939/23175

Memorandum of Conversation, by the Under Secretary of State (Welles)

The Chilean Ambassador called to see me this morning at his request.

I took occasion to mention to the Ambassador my regret that the Chilean Government had never as yet given any public official expression of thanks to the United States for the four batteries we had sent to Chile at the time when Chile was in great need of them.33 I said it seemed to me that a dignified public statement of this character made by the Chilean Government would cut the ground from under the feet of the German propagandists who were assiduously spreading rumors to the effect that the United States had undertaken military intervention in Chile against the Chilean Government. I added that I was also informed that Axis propagandists in Chile were now trying to create trouble between Peru and Chile, alleging that the United States had sent a large number of American troops into Peru and that this had been done in order to bring military pressure to bear upon Chile through Peru. I said that, as the Ambassador knew, this sort of propaganda was so fantastic as to create amazement in the minds of intelligent people, and that I wondered if some opportunity could not be taken by the Chilean Government to emphasize its close and friendly ties with Peru in order that everyone in the two countries might realize that stories of this character emanated solely from Axis propagandists.

I said that in my judgment one of the foremost developments in inter-American relations of the past decade had been the creation of a very close and friendly relationship between Chile and Peru notwithstanding their difficulties of earlier times, and that I felt sure that any reaffirmation of these ties would be welcomed by public opinion throughout the Hemisphere.

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I concluded by saying that, as the Ambassador well knew, the only forces which the United States had in Peru were a couple of hundred men sent as contractors to man the batteries which had been turned over to Peru at the same time as the other four batteries to Chile. I made it clear that of course we could not publicly discuss military arrangements of this character under present conditions, but I did feel that if rumors of the kind I had mentioned were allowed to continue unchecked, suspicions might perhaps be sown in the minds of the less-educated part of the peoples of the two neighboring countries which might result in harm under present conditions.

S[umner] W[elles]
  1. The Chilean Minister for Foreign Affairs expressed his Government’s appreciation in a note of June 15 to Ambassador Bowers (825.348/3).↩