740.0011 EW/2–745: Telegram
The Ambassador in Chile (Bowers) to the Secretary of State
[Received 10:12 p.m.]
194. Last night, in accordance with my telegram No. 185, February 6, 2 p.m.,73 I went to Viña where I was received by President Ríos [Page 763] and handed to him President Roosevelt’s letter. He had already been informed of its contents and said that if agreeable to the Department, he would instruct Fernández to leave for Washington on Sunday the 11th with full powers to sign the Declaration of the United Nations. I told him that I would inform my Government.
I received your No. 122 of February 6, 5  p.m. this morning and have just seen Fernández who repeated the message as given me by the President. He explained that after he had signed the United Nations Declaration, the President would send a message to Chilean Congress requesting ratification this signature. Fernández said that this is the correct legal procedure in the case of treaties, et cetera, and would be the correct procedure in this case. He is confident that Congress will ratify his signature and that this signature is a declaration of war in view of the terms of the United Nations Declaration. After signing Fernández would proceed to Mexico to join the Chilean delegation and at conclusion of meeting would return to Chile to answer any questions in Congress in defense of his signature of United Nations Declaration. Asked how long present Congress would last, he said that though elections were scheduled for March 4 the present legislators would continue in office until May 21.
I handed Fernández a memorandum embodying terms of Department’s above mentioned telegram 122 and pointed out that as Wright had made clear in order to become eligible for adherence to Declaration of United Nations a nation must be in a status equivalent to being “at war”. Fernández pointed out that the President’s letter did not state this and I repeated Department’s assertion that this point was made clear in our previous discussions and that memorandum which I had just handed him embodying the sense of Department’s 122 made this point quite clear. I promised him that I would, however, at once inform Department of foregoing.
Fernández called attention to statement in President Roosevelt’s letter that matter was extremely urgent. He said he would be most grateful if Department could give him some indication as to when United Nations’ conference on world security organization mentioned in President Roosevelt’s letter would take place since this information would greatly help him in his tactics with the Chilean Parliament. For example, if Department could state that meeting would not take place before a certain date that would in itself be very helpful. Accordingly, a most urgent reply on this point would be greatly appreciated.
Fernández said that he is confident that with the approach outlined in paragraphs 1 and 2 above there is not the slightest doubt that Congress would ratify his signature and that his signature constituted a declaration of war and that ratification by the Congress would constitute ratification of the existence of a state of war.[Page 764]
Fernández again pointed out as previously stated that President Roosevelt’s letter clearly asked for one thing, the signing of the Declaration of the United Nations.
As explained in my several telegrams on the subject the political situation is such, particularly due to the elections which are now only 4 weeks off, that it is impossible for Chilean Government to announce a declaration of war before signing United Nations Declaration. Since it would be absurd for American countries dictatorial, semi-totalitarian and even pro-Fascist in some cases to be invited to a United Nations meeting at conclusion of a war for democracy and the strongest functioning democracy in South America to be excluded, I believe it would be wise and expedient to accept what it is possible to obtain immediately particularly since it complies with request contained in President Roosevelt’s letter.
I should be very grateful for the most urgent and sympathetic consideration to the proposal of President Ríos and Seiior Fernández and an answer tomorrow if possible.
- Not printed.↩