The Chargé in Uruguay (Sparks) to the Secretary of State

No. 7776


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In the course of my conversation with Dr. Polleri40 in which the general aspects of aviation problems in the River Plate area and their relation to the proposed agreement were discussed, I mentioned that I had seen the recent statement in the local press of Sr. José M. Pena, Director of Civil Aviation in Uruguay, in which he outlined Uruguayan civil aviation policy. The statement as it appeared in the press reads in translation as follows:

“Uruguay considers that the aviation problem is divided into three aspects: (1) That comprising lines of a domestic character susceptible of eventual extension abroad, which are reserved exclusively for national aviation. (2) International airlines, with long routes operated by companies of other nationalities, which fly over the national territory with respect to which the country (Uruguay) has aspirations that they will make regular stops on all their schedules in our territory at present—and in the future—utilizing for the purpose the magnificent [Page 1284] Carrasco Airport, for the moment one of the best in South America. (3) The service across the River Plate which Uruguay considers must be carried out under conditions of strict reciprocity and of mutual facilities and advantages which contemplate the respective interests, by lines genuinely Argentine and Uruguayan which respond to the well-understood aeronautical, economic, and political interests of the two interested countries.

“In setting forth the norms within which there must be assured, on the indicated base of reciprocity, the contemplation of those superior interests, such as can be contemplated within the criterion of the respective Governments, there will tend to formalize a bilateral accord between both sister nations which we have had, moreover, the great satisfaction of raising by virtue of an initiative of the Argentine authorities who are in agreement with the Uruguayan position in that respect. This circumstance is more expressive than any other fact in order to insure the success that the negotiations about to be opened with the delegations of both countries already designated undoubtedly will have.”

I observed that there appeared to me to be an obvious conflict in the policy as stated by Sr. Peña, should Uruguay require foreign airlines to land all flights in Montevideo, and at the same time should reserve exclusively to Argentine and Uruguayan airlines the “River Plate service” (presumably the traffic between Montevideo and Buenos Aires). I added that such policy would seem to be in direct conflict with more recent developments in international aviation policies and, particularly, with the terms contained in the proposed air transport agreement between the United States and Uruguay. (It might be added parenthetically that Sr. Peña has always held these ideas with respect to what he terms the peculiar situation of the River Plate.)

Dr. Polleri was inclined to agree that a conflict might exist between the second and third points outlined by Sr. Peña. He went on to express informally a personal opinion that in the event of conflict between Uruguayan domestic aviation, including the short hop to Buenos Aires, and foreign trunk lines, Uruguay should probably be prepared to sacrifice the national lines because of the greater advantages that would normally and naturally accrue to the country as a result of the efficient operation of foreign airlines calling at Montevideo. Dr. Polleri added that this problem is causing Uruguay considerable difficulty in negotiating agreements with other foreign countries, mentioning Argentina, Great Britain, France and Holland. I said that if the statements made by Sr. Peña indeed reflected the thinking of the special commission, I felt that it was imperative that I be afforded an early opportunity to discuss the matter with the commission. Dr. Polleri stated that he believed that these matters are now being examined by the commission with a view to determining just what Uruguayan aviation policy should be. I outlined what I [Page 1285] considered to be forceful arguments which would prevent our accepting such an exception to the Fifth Freedom,41 and I stressed particularly the new Section C which we desire to incorporate in the agreement. I pointed out that the terms of the Section would provide for fair and equal opportunity in the operation of the routes and that air transport capacities would bear a close relation to traffic requirements and take into account the reciprocal interests. I particularly emphasized paragraphs D and E of the section. I also referred to our efforts to assist PLUNA which Dr. Polleri recognized. In considering the problem of traffic between Montevideo and Buenos Aires, it is in a sense a special problem in that the distance between the two cities is about one-half that between New York and Washington, and that both countries would like to reserve to themselves this appreciable potential air traffic.

From my conversation with Dr. Polleri I obtained the impression that opposition to the terms of our proposed agreement may be expected from Sr. Peña, but that his convictions are not necessarily shared by the other members of the commission. I hope shortly to be able to ascertain just what is the consensus of the commission.

It is pertinent in connection with these agreements that under Section 7 of Article 75 of the Uruguayan Constitution the Uruguayan Government must submit such agreements to the General Assembly for approval. Section 7 stipulates that it is the power of the General Assembly “to approve or reject, by absolute majority of the total members of both chambers, treaties of peace, alliance, commerce and the conventions or contracts of whatever nature that the Executive Power may conclude with foreign powers.”

Respectfully yours,

Edward J. Sparks
  1. Felix Polleri Carrio of the Uruguayan Foreign Office.
  2. See Department of State, Proceedings of the International Civil Aviation Conference, Chicago, 1944 (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1948) vol. i, p. 179.