710 Conference (W and PW)/1–2945

Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. Merwin L. Bohan, a Technical Officer of the Delegation

The Foreign Minister, attended by Campos Ortíz,42 received the Ambassador, Secretary Taylor, and Messrs. Bonsal, Sanders, and Bohan at 4:30 p.m. January 29. After a few preliminary remarks, the Foreign Minister asked for our views with respect to the economic phases of the forthcoming conference. The present situation was sketched for him, mention being made of the resolutions which the American Delegation would probably wish to discuss in the war and postwar fields. With respect to the approach to the problems of the transition stage, it was observed that the Secretary and Messrs. Rockefeller and Clayton were determined to meet the situation in a constructive and practical fashion. However, no definite program had been decided upon although we hoped that more precise information would be available in the near future.

The Minister stated that the division of the economic problems into three categories was a logical one. He had no particular comment to make with respect to the resolutions listed under “A” in my letter of January 29, 1945. With respect to transition problems, the Minister praised the Inter-American Coffee Agreement43 which, he said, had proven its practical worth and felt that the same general approach should be followed in other commodity fields, specifically mentioning sugar. He also stated, rather categorically, that the exchange accumulations of the war period should not be dissipated upon non-essentials but should be utilized primarily for the acquisition of capital goods for the economic development of the countries of Latin America. He lightly touched upon the problems of financing and mentioned the Inter-American Bank project, but without specific indication of Mexican interest other than to observe that Mexico had already ratified the Convention.

He then reached the postwar phase, and it was clear that it was in this field that he was deeply and vitally interested. His dynamic personality and the deep sincerity with which he expressed his ideas was not only stimulating but almost hypnotic.

The Minister feels that upon the solutions found for the economic problems of this hemisphere depends the reality of continental unity. He pointed out that people are no longer moved by pamphlets filled with high sounding principles and that the way to the heart of the masses is through raising the standard of living and bringing about [Page 73] the economic development of the countries of Latin America. It was, observed the Minister, rather unfair that after all the sacrifices made by the United States to win the war that our country should also be called upon to sacrifice for the peace—but perhaps this latter sacrifice would turn out to be no sacrifice at all, since the expanding purchasing power of Latin America would go a long way towards keeping our industrial machinery busy. Even more important, perhaps, would be that rising standards of living and expanding economies would take away the main cause of anti-Americanism—envy of our economic position—and do away with the “isms” which attempt to destroy democracy on this continent.

The Minister’s specific proposal was that the American nations approach, in what he termed the TVA44 fashion, the economic problems of the postwar. He felt that the Conference should not only set down the general principles of such a program, but recommend the immediate creation of machinery to survey the resources of the hemisphere and prepare coordinated plans. He mentioned the need for an Irrigation Commission, an Agricultural Commission, and others.

The foregoing concluded his remarks with respect to the economic phases of the Conference.

The Ambassador, in reply, emphasized the desire of the Secretary, as well as Messrs. Rockefeller and Clayton, to meet the problems of the postwar in a constructive manner and expressed the opinion that the Minister’s enlightening remarks would be of great help to them in formulating their program.

The Minister stated, upon our leaving, that Sanders and I were at liberty to discuss any and all matters with the members of the Mexican Delegation. Sr. Campos Ortíz expressed his willingness to put us in touch with the Technical Advisers and added that considerable progress had been made in drafting resolutions.

M. L. B[ohan]
  1. Pablo Campos Ortíz, Chief Clerk, Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
  2. Signed at Washington, November 28, 1940; for text, see Department of State Treaty Series, No. 970, or 55 Stat. (pt. 2) 1143.
  3. Tennessee Valley Administration.