840.51 Frozen Credits/11383

Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. James H. Wright of the Division of the American Republics

Participants: Chilean Ambassador, Señor Don Rodolfo Michels
RA—Mr. Bonsal25
Mr. Keith26
Mr. Wright

Ambassador Michels called at Mr. Bonsal’s request. Mr. Bonsal explained that for a long time conversations had been going on in Santiago between our Embassy and the Chilean Government, concerning the implementation of the Washington and Rio Resolutions, in so far as the control of Axis interests is concerned, and that also he and the Ambassador had discussed the matter briefly some months ago. More than a year and a half had passed since Pearl Harbor and a year had passed since the Washington Resolutions were adopted. [Page 905] So far practically nothing had been done by Chile to implement the resolutions calling for the control of Axis interests and he would be less than frank were he not to tell Ambassador Michels that there is a definite feeling in Washington that Chile should take expeditious action to perform under these Resolutions.

Mr. Bonsal briefly reviewed the Resolutions from two memoranda which had been prepared for this purpose and then handed the Ambassador copies of the memoranda which are attached.27 He said that of course the manner of implementation which involved legal dispositions and legislation was solely a matter for Chile, but that he thought the Ambassador would want him to tell him the feeling which existed in this country on the subject. Of course, where the implementation of the Resolutions might cause harm to the economy of the country this Government recognized an obligation which it had to assist Chile in preventing such harm. The effectuation of the Resolutions would be important, not only so far as defeating the Axis is concerned, but also on psychological grounds. Mr. Bonsal carefully stated that the fact that Chile had failed to implement the Resolutions could not go unnoticed in Washington among other Government agencies and this knowledge was bound to reflect in the attitude of these agencies toward Chile, and there was an inescapable lingering in the minds of those dealing with Chilean matters of this absence of action. Mr. Bonsal did not want to see this feeling exist, since he was convinced of the sincerity of Chile.

The Ambassador said that he was very thankful that Mr. Bonsal had brought the matter to his attention and that although they had discussed it some months ago, they had done so in very general and vague terms and this was the first real presentation of the matter that had been made to him. He was glad to know that discussions had already been carried on in Chile and that both our Embassy in Santiago and the Chilean Government were au courant on details. He would not fail to take the matter up with his Government and in addition, would prepare a case to present Foreign Minister Fernandez when he arrives in Washington on September 16. The Ambassador said that he had only a few days ago received a copy of the bill which has already passed the Chilean House of Representatives and now has gone to the Senate. He said that according to Article 18 of the bill (when it becomes law) the President will have authority fully to implement the Resolutions, and that upon seeing the memoranda which Mr. Bonsal handed him he was convinced that Article 18 had [Page 906] been included in the bill for that purpose.28 He would be glad to furnish Mr. Bonsal with a copy of the bill, for which Mr. Bonsal thanked him.

The Ambassador was understanding in his attitude and a number of times stated that he would not fail fully to inform his Government. Mr. Bonsal observed that this was not a matter of starting something fresh but rather a matter of closing up a negotiation which was already under way but on which action was lagging.

James H. Wright
  1. Philip W. Bonsal, Chief of the Division of the American Republics.
  2. Gerald Keith of the Division of the American Republics.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Article 18 of the original version of the general Economic and Financial Project as submitted to the Chamber of Deputies authorized the President to adopt all measures necessary for continental solidarity, reciprocal aid and defensive cooperation and to put into effect the Resolutions of inter-American conferences and meetings of the Ministers for Foreign Affairs.