710.61/2: Telegram

The Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Harriman) to the Secretary of State 24

180. As the Department is aware, a large number of diplomatic and official visas have been issued during 1943 to Soviet officials and employees proceeding to Mexico, Cuba, Colombia and Uruguay. According to the records of the Embassy a total of 128 such visas were issued here. Of these 27 were for Cuba (7 diplomatic, 20 official), 53 for Mexico (20 diplomatic, 33 official), 22 for Colombia (6 diplomatic, 16 official) and 26 for Uruguay (15 diplomatic, 11 official), of the 128 visas issued 56 were for wives. The few children who accompanied their parents were included in mothers’ passports and are not included in the present figures. From the records of Embassy, it is not possible to determine the functions of those given official visas. This total is in marked contrast to number of Latin American officials resident in the Soviet Union: Mexico 6, Cuba 1, Colombia 1 and Uruguay none, all officers.

Latin American diplomats in Moscow are frank to admit that they know of no particular reasons for such large staffs in their countries. [Page 807] Russian interests in Latin America are and always have been relatively insignificant, apart from the political warfare activities which have been carried on in the past. It is difficult on basis of our present information to appraise at the moment what is the Russian attitude toward Latin America.

The Soviets are quite aware of the emotional aversion with which they have been regarded in Latin America, as well as the causes therefor. They must also realize that at present they can command far more sympathy than at any time since the Bolshevik revolution and that it is to their interest to cultivate it. There are numerous small evidences that they are trying in Moscow to please the Latin American diplomats with small courtesies and favors which are not always extended to other foreign representatives.

The Soviet Government having few men trained for Latin America and hoping under the changing attitude toward it to establish relations with other republics,25 may be using its Missions in the four countries with which it now has relations as training posts. Having once been considered an outcast and now having attained the recognized status of a great power, the Soviet Government quite naturally wants the prestige attendant on universal recognition of its position. This would seem to be the most reasonable explanation of the movement of officials unless it is still intended to carry on the political activities of the past. Embassy has no evidence that latter is the case; nor has it, because of the difficulties in Moscow of obtaining direct and specific information on many subjects of political nature, much opportunity of knowing just what are the attitudes and intentions of the Soviet Union vis-à-vis the other American Republics.

The Embassy will, of course, continue to report such items as appear in press and such other indications of attitude as it may be able to receive. It would be helpful in order to fill in parts of the picture and balance the Russian with the Latin American picture, if the Embassy could be provided with such information as Department may receive concerning the activities of Soviet officials in the countries with which relations have been established, as well as developments relating to the Soviet Union in the other Republics. The Department’s airgram number A–37 of December 6, ’4326 was most useful and it is hoped this type of report may be continued.

  1. A paraphrase of this telegram was sent in a circular airgram on January 31, 1944, to the American Missions in Colombia, Cuba, Mexico, and Uruguay.
  2. See bracketed note enumerating some Latin American Republics which were considering recognition of the Soviet Union, vol. vii , section entitled “Attitude of the United States with respect to the establishment of diplomatic relations between the American Republics and the Soviet Union.”
  3. Not printed.