The Ambassador in Venezuela (Corrigan) to the Secretary of State

No. 4615

Subject: Decentralization Plan:—Review of Activities During the Second Quarter of 1943.


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Problems Solved and Pending

During the first three months of decentralization in Venezuela, the majority of the problems inherent to the implantation of such a system [Page 300] in a Latin American country have been to a large degree solved. Lack of statistical experience, poor communications and untrained personnel have been the great obstacles to the smooth functioning of the Decentralization Plan and these factors, combined with a continued lack of vision in Venezuelan trade circles, must still be contended with before it can be said that the Plan is in “successful operation”. The reinstating of the Maracaibo Regional Commission, for example, despite what political benefits may result, has not proved to be of any practical advantage to the Import Recommendation procedure but rather an additional cause of delay in the processing of individual Recommendations.

With regard to the problems discussed in despatch No. 4146, March 30, 194326 on “Negotiations with the Venezuelan Government in Regard to the Inauguration of the Decentralization Program”, satisfactory solutions have been found in almost all instances as reported to the Department from time to time. The question of special procedures for wheat flour and newsprint has not yet reached final settlement but it is believed that with the friendly cooperation shown at all times by the members of the Commission even such knotty points will shortly be smoothed out.

The Commission has, of course, been under considerable strain in seeking to understand and apply equitably the Controlled Materials Plan estimates of supply which have presented infinite complications in the distribution of supplies and cargo tonnage. Yet this problem is being worked out and, with time, should become reasonably easy for the Commission to handle. Another stumbling block to smooth progress has been the time element involved in distributing allocations, once they are announced, throughout the Republic and securing sufficient Import Recommendations to cover the estimates before the quarterly dead-line is passed.

Despite future difficulties that cannot be overlooked, it is believed that as more weeks pass and the Commission—as well as the trade—becomes more accustomed to this new procedure in export-import control, decentralization should work satisfactorily in Venezuela. But this will be so only insofar as the Washington agencies maintain a straight line of action and avoid unilateral or unannounced steps which most naturally throw the local set-up into confusion, until sufficient telegrams have been exchanged to bring order out of momentary chaos.

It may be reiterated here that, as stated in my airgram A–330, June 17, 5:15 p.m.,27 the Import Control Commission looks to the Embassy and, through it, the Department of State to make Venezuela’s position clear in the face of unilateral action on the part of other agencies of the United States Government.

Respectfully yours,

Frank P. Corrigan
  1. Not printed, but see footnote 3, p. 291, and footnote 13, p. 293.
  2. Not printed.