0331.1110 Wallace, Henry A./164: Telegram

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

595. I have sent no play-by-play account of the Vice President’s visit to Chile leaving that to the press services and a later despatch. My judgment after the first 3 days of his stay is that it is one of the best things in Chilean-American relations that has happened since the “good neighbor” policy was enunciated.

The Chilean Government’s elaborate preparations for Wallace’s visit were not perfunctory but marked by friendly feelings for the man and the United States.

The enthusiastic reaction of the common people cannot be explained away by press preparations, party orders or anything else than the idea that here was a man representing the United States fresh from Washington who was their friend and deeply interested in their welfare. The hundreds of thousands that lined the streets, and the hundred thousand that surged and cheered—and stood for [Page 64] hours—before the residence the night of his arrival, the cheers for “Mr. Wallace”, and the “viva los Estados Unidos” of the crowds when he made his unannounced and unscheduled trip through the poorer quarters yesterday morning, the hundred thousand that filled the stadium, the crowds that thronged round his car to shake his hand, did not do so because of curiosity, instructions or suggestibility.

The popular demonstration of affection has been to a large extent personal, not for Mr. Wallace alone but also for President Roosevelt. It has also, however, been marked by a new attitude of affection and confidence toward the United States. I am told by Chileans of all classes that there has been no such popular demonstration in Chile since those for Alessandri21 over 20 years ago. No foreigner ever received a comparable manifestation.

The initial interest of the conservative classes in the visit was replaced in some quarters by a sense of alarm that these popular manifestations might be the starting point of assault against privilege and insistence upon sudden remedy of social conditions. However the Vice President is making a most favorable impression personally on conservative elements. President Rios has expressed himself to his intimates as highly pleased with Wallace and the whole performance.

If no unfortunate incident or statement occurs here or in the United States to dampen the enthusiasm which has so far marked the Vice President’s trip, his visit will complete the foundation of a new structure of friendship for the United States which is replacing the long tradition of hostility, suspicion and jealousy.

  1. Arturo Alessandri, former President of Chile.