740.0011 E.W./2–945: Telegram
The Ambassador in Chile (Bowers) to the Secretary of State
[Received February 10—2: 30 a.m.]
201. Last night Fernández was informed briefly of the points of Department’s 127, February 8, 1 p.m. and appointment was made to see him today at 12:45 when full substance was conveyed to him.
Fernández pointed out that declaration of war would have to pass both Senate and House and debate could conceivably be prolonged throughout March though he hopes it would not. He said the only problem which has remained was the date of United Nations Conference and Mora also was taking this up with Department. Mora had just telegraphed that President Roosevelt wanted United Nations Conference to take place as soon as “Big Three” conference75a is concluded. Embassy again pointed out the Department (above mentioned 127) stated that Conference would not take place until after meeting at Mexico City.
It seems clear that given Department’s telegram under reference and Embassy’s 199, February 8, 6 p.m., the solution of this problem depends entirely on fixing a satisfactory interval between the return of Fernández from Mexico after Chilean elections and date for proposed United Nations Conference on World Security. Though Chile’s position was set forth in Embassy’s above mentioned 199, matter [Page 767] is so important that I venture to review the situation at risk of laboring the point:
We have at last got Chile committed to declare war on Japan and while I do not doubt that Chilean Government intends to go through with its commitment I think it would be most unfortunate if we gave Chile any conceivable pretext for changing her mind. I cannot too strongly recommend therefore that we give Fernández the assurance he requests that United Nations Conference will not be held until he has had time to return to Chile and the President] time to present to Congress a message requesting a declaration of war on Japan.
I think it would not be possible to convince Chile that we are unable to hold up the United Nations Conference for a reasonable length of time. Fernández has already intimated that we have not given, American countries adequate consideration and that he feels we are too prone to give ground before the demands of the great powers at expense of interests of other American Republics.
Fernández strongly feels his personal responsibility in bringing Chile into the world security organization on an equal footing with the United Nations, [apparent omission] or presenting question of war to Parliament on eve of a national election.
He has stated he will not assume responsibility under first alternative and second alternative is so unpleasant that Department may be quite sure that all the blame will be carefully placed upon the United States and that in addition to anti-United States elements we will have Chilean Government outdoing opposition in piling the blame upon us.
It is for this reason Fernández said that should the Department be unable to give him the definite assurance outlined in my above mentioned 199 he could not leave Chile for Mexico. This in itself would be a most unfortunate first step toward what may prove to be a very serious disintegration in our relations with Chile.
Presumably by the time that elections are past and Fernández has returned from Mexico most or all of the other five American Republics on Department’s list will have declared war. Rumors are rife that it is under consideration and I think that by the time matter can be presented to Congress public opinion will have been amply prepared and what is more important Fernández feels confident that he will have little difficulty in putting the declaration of war through Congress.
- The Yalta Conference, January 30–February 11, 1945.↩