740.00112A European War 1939/23233

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

No. 1142

The Secretary of State refers to the Embassy’s despatch no. 872 of October 2, 1942 and the Department’s telegram no. 33 of January 9, 194320 and airgram no. A–537 of March 12, 1943 concerning the establishing of a consultative procedure with respect to Proclaimed List matters.

The Department approves the establishment of consultative procedures with the local governments in connection with the Proclaimed List where it is requested by such governments provided certain principles are agreed upon as the basis of consultation. In this connection there is enclosed for the information of the Embassy a copy of a memorandum dated June 27, 194221 which was accepted by the Venezuelan Government as a basis for a consultative procedure with respect to names on the Proclaimed List for Venezuela.

The Department would be glad to cooperate in the establishment of a consultative procedure with the Colombian Government upon the principles set forth in the enclosure.

It was on this basis that a possible consultative procedure in Colombia was discussed with Mr. Turbay as referred to in A–537 and with Dr. Miguel Lόpez during his visit to Washington last year.

Any procedure which would be satisfactory to the Department would not involve the use of a preliminary screening process by an [Page 53] independent Colombian committee with respect to Colombian individuals. It will be noted that point 4 of the memorandum relating to the Venezuelan consultative procedure states that listing or corrective action must extend to any person or firm identified directly or indirectly with pro-Axis interests regardless of nationality. It is believed that it would be highly undesirable to establish any differentiation in the handling of cases on the basis of nationality. While the Department wishes to afford every safeguard against the unjustified listing of Colombian citizens it should be clear to the Colombian Government that the Axis has not hesitated to promote its plans through the instrumentality of firms having the nationality of countries in this hemisphere and that the prosecution of measures of hemisphere defense would be seriously hampered if any distinction on the ground of nationality were allowed to interfere with the implementation of the Proclaimed List program.

In discussing this matter with the Colombian authorities it should be stressed that the final decision with respect to additions and deletions in the Proclaimed List, which relates to controls established by this Government, must rest with the Interdepartmental Committee in Washington. In the deliberations of the Interdepartmental Committee full weight will be given to any expressions of opinion by the Colombian consultative commission and to considerations relating to the Colombian economy. In the event that the Colombian authorities should request representation on that committee, it should be stated that it is not feasible for all of the American republics which have severed relations with the Axis to be represented on the committee and that every opportunity is afforded through the consultative procedure for local governments to express their position concerning particular names.

The Department believes that it is of great importance in establishing a consultative procedure to effect an arrangement whereby proposed additions will be discussed with the consultative commission simultaneously with the transmission of a report to the Department and that it be understood that in the absence of the submission of further information by the consultative commission within a period to be agreed upon such as two or three weeks, the Department will assume that the Colombian Government has no objection and the case will be submitted to the Interdepartmental Committee on the basis of the Embassy’s report. In the absence of such an arrangement it has been found that the local government is sometimes prone to delay action on important cases by mere failure to report its position.

The Department believes that it is essential to the successful functioning of a consultative procedure that the consultative commission [Page 54] which is established by the Colombian Government be given broad authority to carry on discussions with the Embassy without the necessity of referring to higher governmental authorities, except when broad questions of policy are involved. Experience has shown that it is also desirable to establish consultation on a basis of regular and frequent meetings. Through such meetings it is possible for the Colombian Government to make sure that the Embassy has full information concerning firms which are proposed for addition to the list and for the Embassy to discuss fully with the consultative commission action which may be taken by Proclaimed List firms or by the Colombian Government for the purpose of securing the deletion of firms in appropriate cases.

The Department also believes that it would be helpful if such consultative commission were given the power to examine the adequacy of the Colombian economic and financial controls and to make recommendations with respect to needed improvements in such controls as indicated by the Resolutions of the Inter-American Conference on Systems of Economic and Financial Control. By virtue of such an arrangement it may be possible to facilitate the reorganization of Proclaimed List firms and to promote a solution of the unsatisfactory situation now existing with respect to intervened firms.

For the Embassy’s confidential information, experience in Mexico has indicated that the continuation of the interventorship of undesirable firms is likely to lead to a serious undermining of the entire Proclaimed List program in the country. The mere appointment of an interventor obviously accomplishes little or nothing toward improving the political complexion and activities of the firms but does offer local firms an excuse for dealing with the Proclaimed List national. Furthermore, unfortunate situations such as are referred to in the Embassy’s despatch no. 1301 of December 22, 1942 and despatch no. 107 from the American Consulate at Barranquilla dated December 30, 194222 are inevitable as a result of the performance of their duties by American foreign service officers in spite of the exercise of utmost tact. The Department is solicitous that foreign service officers shall not be subjected to unanswered criticism by the local government for the performance of their duties in economic warfare measures in behalf of hemisphere defense.

It should be made clear that the consultative commission should be composed only of representatives of the Colombian Government for the purpose of consulting with the American and British Embassies and these Embassies should not, therefore, have members on the commission as suggested in the Embassy’s A–12 of January 2, 1943.23

  1. Neither printed.
  2. Not printed; in this memorandum it was made clear that the United States was to retain the ultimate decision concerning the inclusion of cases and that corrective action must be taken in appropriate cases, irrespective of nationality, and with expedition.
  3. Latter not printed.
  4. Not printed.