740.00112A European War 1939/29547: Telegram

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

758. For Under Secretary and Duggan.17 My telegram 731, April 20, 10 a.m. As reported Pablo Ramirez gave us the draft of the proposed control law as follows:

“The President of the Republic is hereby authorized during the state of war which affects the American countries to adopt all measures considered indispensable in order to make effective a policy of continental solidarity, of reciprocal aid and of defensive cooperation, and so that he may promulgate and put into effect the recommendations and resolutions approved at International American conferences and at the consultative meetings of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the American Republics.”

On the afternoon of the 23rd Ramirez informed us that at a meeting of the Cabinet Pedregal asked that he be permitted to include this in his general economic bill, drastically covering domestic economy, and that the President had agreed. The substitute for the original bill, above quoted, and prepared by Pedregal reads:

“The President of the Republic may dictate and apply all of the measures of an economic nature which he deems indispensable for the better fulfillment of the obligations contracted as a result of the present international position adopted by the country.”

I agree with Bushmck [Butrick?], Thayer and Franki that this is not as satisfactory as the original. Sunday night Cruz Coke18 and Ramirez called at the house, both much disturbed about it. This afternoon I saw Fernández and told him, first, that the substitute is not as satisfactory as the new proposed law; that the first specifically indicated what was meant and the second does not. “Very well”, he said instantly, “we will use the first, but we thought the second even [Page 900] more comprehensive”. I expressed a preference for the first. Then I urged that it be presented as a separate bill and that it not be tied up with a highly controversial measure dealing exclusively with domestic matters; that I knew there would be a bitter fight on the tax, rent, and profits features of the domestic bill and the debate would be prolonged; that I thought it unwise to attempt to deal with international and purely domestic matters in a single measure; and that I hoped the first bill would be presented as a separate measure. Fernandez said he thought I had a good point in this and that he will take it up with the President immediately.

It is possible that Pedregal, knowing there would be a fight on his domestic bill, thought the international bill tied in would make it easier to get the whole through, though, as you know, I do not have complete confidence in the pro-Americanism of the Minister of Finance. Fernández tells me that since Wallace’s visit19 he thinks he has changed and is really ready to cooperate. But I feel that his substitute bill leaves far too much to the President’s judgment as to what constitutes “indispensable” measures to fulfill the obligations. I have high hopes that the original bill will be separately presented to Congress.

  1. Laurence Duggan, Adviser on Political Relations.
  2. Eduardo Cruz Coke, member of the Chilean Senate.
  3. For correspondence on the visit of Vice President Henry A. Wallace to some of the American Republics, see pp. 55 ff.