Memorandum of Conversation, by the Director of the Office of American Republic Affairs (Duggan)

Participants: General Isaias Medina Angarita, President of Venezuela;
President Franklin D. Roosevelt;
Mr. Laurence Duggan, Director, Office of American Republic Affairs.

During the course of the dinner conversation, President Roosevelt stated that he very much wanted to help Venezuela in the development [Page 1661] of its economic resources. In particular, he would like to see a large refinery established on the mainland of Venezuela. He had hoped to be in a position to tell President Medina that the priorities necessary for such a refinery could now be established. He had gone into the matter thoroughly and reached the conclusion that it would be prejudicial to the war effort to divert to the refinery the necessary steel.

President Roosevelt expressed the belief, however, that it might be possible to establish the necessary priorities this coming summer or fall. The antisubmarine campaign was progressing satisfactorily. Ship sinkings were falling off, and production was at a high point, 200,000,000 tons of shipping were being built a year. If this state of affairs continued, it was probable that the ship-building program would be tapered off, thereby making available steel plate for other uses, such as the refinery in Venezuela.

The President of Venezuela expressed great interest in what President Roosevelt had told him. He said that he naturally would like to get the refinery under way as soon as possible but that he fully understood that war needs came first. President Medina made the point very clear that he had no preference as between companies. He reiterated three times that all that he was interested in was the establishment of a large refinery and he did not care under what auspices this refinery was.