The Chargé in Paraguay ( Montgomery ) to the Secretary of State
[Received May 6—4 p.m.]
A–138. Reference Department’s airgram No. A–203, April 16, 1943, 6:30 p.m., in reply to Embassy’s despatch 702, January 12,55 regarding sale of petroleum products to Proclaimed List nationals.
Upon receipt of the Department’s airgram under reference an appointment was made with the Minister of Agriculture, Commerce, and Industries,56 under whose jurisdiction falls the rationing authority of petroleum products which is practiced by the Direction General of Industries and Commerce. The Minister as well as a representative of the Direction General of Industry and Commerce were present at the conference.
The position of the Department was fully explained to the Paraguayan authorities with emphasis upon the point that the provision of petroleum products under the Pool system makes no allowance for the distribution or sale of such products to persons or firms on the Proclaimed List of Blocked Nationals. It was further suggested that if such sale or distribution is continued it would be most difficult to justify the allotments which have now been made on the basis of the essential needs of the country’s economy. In view of the tenure [Page 699] [tenor] of the conversations the authorities were also reminded that the identical situation exists as regards the sale of any tires and tubes which, while in theory are received from Brazil, are actually part of the stocks owned by the United States Government.
The Paraguayan authorities did not dispute the position taken by the United States Government, rather did they agree that it is just and reasonable. It has been agreed that the automotive registrations of the country, particularly for Asunción, will be checked against the Proclaimed List and that any vehicles belonging to either a firm or a person on the Proclaimed List of Blocked Nationals will be eliminated and will be granted no ration of petroleum products and will not be permitted to purchase tires or tubes. The Minister pointed out that there is in the Paraguayan market a certain amount of bootleg gasoline, and even tires, smuggled out of Argentina, and that at least for the moment the local Government could do nothing to prevent this gasoline or the tires being bought by listed firms provided they are willing to pay the price. The Minister did by indirection, in reply to a question, state that he is exploring the legal implications of cancelling the operating permits of all automotive vehicles, both cars and trucks, belonging to listed firms or individuals.
There is no doubt of the willingness of the Paraguayan authorities consulted to fully meet the suggestions of the Department within the limits of available powers. The check list of the automobiles and trucks to be denied gasoline rations and the right to purchase tires has been offered to the Embassy for examination. However it is believed that this administrative process should be left entirely in the hand of the Paraguayan authorities although the Embassy will not hesitate to follow this matter through should any vehicles belonging to listed parties be seen in circulation after a reasonable period of time has elapsed.