Memorandum of Conversation, by the Chief of the Division of Foreign Economic Development (Phelps)

Participants: Ambassador Mora, Chile
E.G. Collado, State
D.M. Phelps, State

Ambassador Mora discussed at some length the economic position of Chile in the early post-war period. Evidently he had spoken with officials of the copper companies in New York and had found them pessimistic in regard to the likely demand for copper in immediately forthcoming years. They stressed the competition of plastics and the effect of war scrap and other adverse factors on the market for new production. According to Ambassador Mora the copper companies feel that total annual demand in the next few years will be substantially less than that in pre-war years, that is, less than 350 thousand tons annually. In view of this possibility in demand he said that Chile was thinking in terms of public works to prevent too large a measure of unemployment. Upon questioning he said that they were thinking of projects for irrigation, highways (particularly feeder roads), and low cost housing for workers.

An ambitious program has evidently been prepared which will call for substantial quantities of heavy equipment and some construction materials and supplies of a variety of types. In order to purchase items in the U.S. the Chilean Government would like to secure a loan somewhere in the neighborhood of $5 million which would be used over a period of years as importations of equipment and materials became necessary to implement the program. Ambassador Mora requested that the matter be given consideration prior to the visit of President Ríos on October 11 and volunteered to make available various documents dealing with the public works program. These documents were left with the Department later in the day. It was indicated to Ambassador Mora that the matter would be given thorough consideration by the Department before President Ríos’ visit.72

  1. President Ríos left Santiago for the United States on September 26 and returned November 26. In a statement on the visit, released to the press by the White House, October 16 (Department of State Bulletin, October 21, 1945, p. 648), President Truman stated: “President Ríos of Chile left Washington yesterday after an official visit, during which it was my privilege to have him as a guest at the White House. It was a great pleasure to meet him, not only as a friend and statesman but also as the representative of a democratic people and a functioning democracy.

    “We discussed the mutual desire to strengthen the solidarity of the republics of the Western Hemisphere on the basis of the ideals for which the war was fought and won.”