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

No. 2539

Sir: I have the honor to refer to the Department’s circular instruction of July 1, 1943,30 concerning elimination of enemy influence from insurance.

This Embassy has carefully considered the proposals made in the Department’s instructions under reference and submits the following comments in connection with the suggested program:

As stated in this Embassy’s despatch no. 3833 of March 11, 1942,30 concerning Axis Insurance Companies in Colombia, the only enemy company now operating in Colombia is the Italian company Assicurazioni Generali—Tireste [Trieste?] (PL31). The only change in the situation since the date of this despatch is that the Medellín agent, Alfredo Miani, is included on the Proclaimed List and it has been definitely [Page 59] established that the Cartagena agent of Assicurazioni is Vicente Gallo Jr. (PL). Reference this Embassy’s despatch No. 4076 of April 20, 1942.32

The Embassy has been informed recently that the Banking Superintendent (under whose jurisdiction the management of Axis insurance companies was placed by Article 17 of Decree 147 of January 26, 1942, and Article 5, of Decree 1552, June 30, 1942) has granted the Assicurazioni a renewal of its license to operate as an insurance company in Colombia. This action has been discussed with officials of the Ministry of Finance and is now under discussion with the Colombian Consultative Commission.

It is believed that Proposal No. 1, to request each government to prohibit all insurance and reinsurance transactions with companies in enemy territory, would be adopted by the Colombian Government. As a matter of fact, it is believed that existing communications control measures in Colombia preclude such transactions, and in any event the only company in Colombia possibly engaging in such transactions at the present time is the Assicurazioni. No instance of Colombian insurance companies engaging in insurance or reinsurance transactions with companies in enemy territory has come to the attention of this Embassy.

With reference to Proposal 2, the Embassy is now endeavouring to have the Colombian Government take appropriate measures to eliminate the Assicurazioni, the only enemy insurance company in Colombia, from the insurance business. Insofar as directors, officers and other insurance personnel on the Proclaimed List are concerned, the Embassy concurs that the influence of the insurance licensing body will probably prove most effective in securing their elimination. Furthermore, existing control measures in Colombia, plus the licensing system, if properly applied, are deemed sufficient to accomplish the desired purpose and additional measures would not be necessary.

No instance has come to the Embassy’s attention of any Colombian insurance company ceding, retroceding, or accepting reinsurance to or from any insurance company which appears on the Proclaimed List. The elimination of the only existing enemy insurance company in Colombia will not result in a deficiency of facilities in Colombia.

With reference to Proposal 3 concerning the problem of the neutral European companies,33 this Embassy has no comment to make except that the proposed procedure seems most desirable.

With reference to Proposal 4, it is believed that in connection with [Page 60] the general plan, the local companies in Colombia can be persuaded to agree not to insure any persons on the Proclaimed List or any property in which such persons have an interest, with the exception of the property of those persons or firms under the fiduciary administration of the Colombian Government. As the Department knows, the Colombian company, Cía. Colombiana de Seguros, has in the past been suspected of writing new insurance for Proclaimed List nationals and of renewing existing insurance for Proclaimed List nationals. However, as stated in this Embassy’s A–276, November 17, 1942,34 assurances had been received from the Cía. Colombiana de Seguros that no new insurance would be written on listed firms except firms under the administration of the Colombian Government for the reasons therein stated. It is felt that other Colombian companies will feel under the same obligation to accept insurance on listed firms under Government administration where requested to write such insurance by the Government representative. However, it is believed that this is a matter which can be worked out with the Colombian Government, particularly if provision is made for exceptions in special cases. In this connection, it is known that Cía. Colombiana de Seguros has in recent weeks refused to renew existing policies on listed persons and firms and it is felt that this company is complying with its assurances to this Embassy not to write new insurance on listed persons and firms, except, as stated for listed firms under the administration of the Colombian Government.

With reference to Proposal 5, only one case of enemy and Proclaimed List insurance companies insuring property owned by United States or British citizens, or property of firms producing war materials for the United States, has come to the attention of this Embassy, and this case involved one Harry Constantin of Bogotá, a British national. He was instructed to cancel this insurance with the enemy company. The cession, retrocession, or reinsurance of insurance by the various Colombian companies is with United States and British concerns.

With reference to possible leakage through insurance companies of information on cargos and ship movements to and from United States ports, a full report in this connection was made to the Department in this Embassy’s A–24 of July 30, 1942,34 in which the conclusion was reached that leakage of information through insurance companies in this country can be discounted as entirely negligible. The report contained in this Embassy’s A–24 that the Proclaimed List national, Giordano Zollia, head of Assicurazioni, was doing some marine insurance business which he is passing on to the Cía. Colombiana de Seguros, has not been confirmed and is believed to be without [Page 61] foundation, at least insofar as his passing this business to the Cía. Colombiana de Seguros is concerned.

In conclusion, the Embassy perceives no objection to the application in Colombia of the concrete proposals made in the Department’s instruction under reference.

Additional personnel to carry out the proposal in Colombia is not deemed necessary.

Respectfully yours,

For the Ambassador:
Barry T. Benson

Acting Commercial Attaché
  1. Not printed.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Proclaimed List.
  4. Not printed.
  5. This proposal contemplated the routing through and subjecting to United States censorship of all correspondence and records of neutral European companies doing insurance business in the American Republics.
  6. Not printed.
  7. Not printed.