740.00112A European War 1939/23235

The Ambassador in Colombia ( Lane ) to the Secretary of State

No. 1301

Sir: With reference to my strictly confidential despatch no. 1294 of December 16, 1942,1 I have the honor to report that on December 22 I had an extended conversation with the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Gabriel Turbay, regarding the administration of the Proclaimed List and the Interventor System, the substance of which I am reporting hereunder.

I informed the Minister that the Department has expressed dissatisfaction with the manner in which the Interventor System is working and furthermore has indicated its displeasure with existing freezing controls. The Minister stated that he was very glad that I had raised these points as he personally wished to speak to me regarding complaints again received by President Lόpez2 regarding the officious and tactless attitude assumed by the Consulate in Barranquilla on Proclaimed List cases. Dr. Turbay said that he would obtain the details from the President and would transmit them to me in due course.

As to the Interventor System the Minister said that it had been agreed last summer in Washington, between Dr. Miguel Lόpez3 and Mr. Laurence Duggan,4 that once the Colombian Government had taken over the administration of a firm which had Axis interests or dealings, such firm would immediately be removed from the Proclaimed List in view of the responsibility thereupon falling on the Colombian Government. I replied that I readily understood the logic of this arrangement but that such a procedure should be conditional on the Colombian Government effectively blocking the funds of the intervened firm and controlling completely its activities. I mentioned then the specific cases of Tedesco, S. A.; Ferrari, Riccardi and Ambrosi; La Química-Bayer-Westkott, which had without hindrance imported 260,000 pesos worth of Argentine drugs; and the Almacenes Helda, which regardless of its having been placed on the Proclaimed List had been able to continue its business activities without hindrance.

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I also stated that according to reports which had recently come to my attention, Señor Gaviria of the Foreign Office had not effectively carried on the consultative process with this Embassy which had been established with his predecessor, and that therefore since July 1942 no Proclaimed List cases dealing with Colombian nationals had been affirmatively passed by him.

Dr. Turbay replied that the question of the Proclaimed List divided itself into two parts: (1) Cases involving foreign firms or nationals, regarding which the Colombian Government raised no objection whatever; and (2) cases involving Colombian firms or nationals. He said that the Colombian Government cannot, for political reasons which should be evident to us, agree to the inclusion of Colombian nationals on our Proclaimed List. To approve such inclusion would result in attacks on the Government in Congress and would subject the Government to great embarrassment. The Government’s approval would be interpreted by some as a derogation of sovereignty and as a relinquishment of the Colombian Government’s duty to protect its own nationals. The Minister said, however, that there is a great deal of difference in the meaning between the terms “approval” and “acquiescence”. His proposal would be that a committee be formed comprised of representatives of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Hacienda and National Economy and of this Embassy, which would meet from time to time to discuss cases involving the inclusion of Colombian firms or individuals on the Proclaimed List. In the event that the Colombian representative should indicate that the information on which we were basing inclusion was not based on facts, a further investigation could be made by us to justify our position, as presumably we would not wish to include a name on the basis of misinformation. In the event that there should be no question as to the soundness of our argument regarding the inclusion of a given firm, the Colombian representatives, while not giving their approval, might indicate their acquiescence or at least the absence of any objection on their part. Dr. Turbay said that in his opinion the attitude of Dr. Gaviria, of which we had complained, is probably due to the reluctance of any Colombian official to give approval to the inclusion of a Colombian national on our Proclaimed List.

As to the complaints which I transmitted regarding the administration of the Interventor System, Dr. Turbay requested me to furnish a specific memorandum on each case which in our opinion deserved censure. He said that he would look into each case personally, with a view to taking remedial action. I promised Dr. Turbay that I would have prepared without delay memoranda covering the most outstanding cases in which intervened firms had been treated with laxity by the Colombian Government.

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It was agreed between the Minister and me that another meeting would be shortly held between us, possibly with the attendance also of the Minister of Hacienda5 and Mr. Livengood, Counselor of Embassy for Economic Affairs, so that the problems facing us could be worked out in a spirit of cooperation and frankness.

I should appreciate it if the Department would transmit to me its views regarding the formation of a committee to discuss specific cases involving the proposed inclusion of Colombian firms or nationals on the Proclaimed List. I believe that such a procedure would serve to satisfy any Colombian misgivings regarding alleged interference or arbitrary action on our part and would, because of the representation of various Ministries on the committee, be more effective than the present system where one subordinate of the Foreign Office can through procrastination hold up a definite decision.

The Department’s reply by telegraph will be deeply appreciated.

Respectfully yours,

Arthur Bliss Lane
  1. Not printed.
  2. Alfonso Lόpez.
  3. President of the Caja de Crédito Agrario, Industrial y Minero and brother of the President.
  4. Adviser on Political Relations in the Department of State.
  5. Alfonso Araújo.