811.20 Defense (M)/6075

The Minister in Guatemala (Des Portes) to the Secretary of State

No. 2734

Sir: I have the honor to refer to the Department’s circular telegram of March 28, 9 p.m. 1942,29 regarding the extreme urgency of the rubber situation and to report that during a conversation with President Ubico a few days ago, I read to him portions of that telegram. The President was most interested, and informed me that he would lend every possible aid to the United States Government in the critical situation.

With specific regard to the agreement which the Rubber Reserve Company desires to effect for the purchase of Guatemala’s entire rubber production, (Department’s telegram No. 104 of March 19, 2 p.m.) the President observed that although it is against the constitution of the Republic for the Guatemalan Government to enter into any monopoly, considering the war emergency he will make this an exception. The President continued by saying that there are no [Page 453] large rubber plantations in the Republic but that there are very considerable quantities of wild rubber scattered throughout the country. He stated that for this reason he is afraid the cost of production will prove considerably more than the price now being offered by the United States Government. He explained that in the jungles one would find a rubber tree and then would probably have to go a distance of perhaps one-fourth of a mile before finding another tree large enough to tap. He further stated that on his own finca, several months ago, he had his Indians go out into the jungles to gather wild rubber, that they brought back fifty pounds, which cost him for the labor alone three Quetzales (three dollars), but that after the rubber was washed and rolled sufficiently to make it of a first-class grade, the net result was that he had only ten pounds of first-class rolled rubber.

I asked the President if he would be willing to make an immediate survey of the Republic in order to find out about what production may be obtained and the approximate cost of production. The President expressed his willingness to make the survey, but explained that such a survey could not be effected until the rainy season begins around the middle of May. In elucidation he said that the sap in the rubber tree does not flow in good quantities until after the rains have set in. The President promised to give me a report as soon as the survey was completed.

Respectfully yours,

Fay Allen Des Portes
  1. Ante, p. 172.