740.00112A European War, 1939/23188: Airgram

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

A–10. Reference my despatch no. 1301, December 22, 1942.

On December 29 I had a general discussion with President Lόpez and Minister of Hacienda Araújo regarding policy of the Colombian Government with respect to intervened firms. On December 30 I had, at the request of the President, an extended interview with Ramon Santo Domingo, newly appointed Minister of Communications. As the latter is from Barranquilla, from which point numerous complaints have arisen regarding our administration of the Proclaimed List, President Lόpez and I agreed that it would be well to have a frank discussion with him. Following is summary of conversations of December 29 and 30:

At request of Araújo I intend personally to furnish him on January 4 with details regarding firms intervened by Colombian Government, with respect to which Department has expressed concern. Araújo promised to go over all details with care and to take drastic action regarding firms which are being administered with laxity. He pointed out, however, that great shortage of essential supplies in Colombia, whose economy is non-industrial, and difficulty if not impossibility of obtaining shipping space for needed supplies from United States makes it imperative for Colombian Government to [Page 47] permit firms such as Bayer-Westkott to import drugs and medicines from Argentina. Araújo said, however, that Bayer’s funds are completely frozen and that he would give me strict accounting of all funds received.…

I informed Araújo I had already spoken to Foreign Minister Turbay regarding advisability of our having general talk regarding status of firms intervened by Colombian Government. Araújo suggested that as Turbay is out of town over holidays, Araújo and I might talk alone on January 4 and then later have further talk with Turbay. Araújo evidenced great disposition to investigate cases and take satisfactory action.

President Lόpez having transmitted to me on December 24 complaint from Governor of Department of Atlántico regarding attitude of Consul at Barranquilla6 on Proclaimed List cases (President Lόpez was not specific as to the nature of the complaint except that one case involved Caputo and Company), I requested Consul Robinson to submit to me comprehensive report. This report, which I showed the President on December 29, indicates that Consulate had correctly carried out instructions from Department in advising American firms in its district not to sell to Proclaimed List firms. Santo Domingo, on December 30, informed me that in his opinion no criticism due Consulate on Proclaimed List matters. The principal complaint should be placed on Barranquilla persons who, in order to ingratiate themselves with Consulate, furnish information regarding their personal enemies or business competitors which the Consulate must necessarily receive. Santo Domingo admitted, however, that in his opinion the Consulate did not sufficiently investigate information received.

After conversations with Araújo and Turbay I shall report to Department further of developments.

  1. Thomas H. Robinson.