The Ambassador in Venezuela (Corrigan) to the Secretary of State
[Received June 21.]
Sir: With reference to the Department’s circular telegram of May 22, 6 p.m.,84 concerning the tour of Latin America being made by ex-President Hoover at President Truman’s request to discuss the various problems of mutual concern in the world-wide famine, I have the honor to report that Mr. Hoover and his party arrived yesterday in Caracas and departed this morning as scheduled.
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Both during the afternoon conference and in a speech made by him after dinner in reply to one of Sr. Betancourt, Mr. Hoover explained the world situation in regard to food as he found it from his 90–day, 50,000–mile trip through forty countries. He explained that he understood fully that Venezuela was a net food importer which could do little to supply needed foodstuffs. The salient sentences in this connection from his extemporaneous remarks after dinner, released to and published in this morning’s Caracas press, were as follows:
“We know that Venezuela can contribute little to help in this crisis. All that we ask of her is that she reduce so far as possible her imports of foodstuffs during the next 90 days, which will be the crucial ones, until the next harvest in the northern hemisphere is under way.”
Sr. Betancourt’s remarks at the afternoon conference and after dinner, as well as those of Sr. Mario Garcia Arocha, Director of the National [Page 1360]Office of Supplies, and Sr. Eduardo Mendoza Goiticoa, Minister of Agriculture, at the conference, were mainly in the nature of an exposition of Venezuela’s position as an importer of cereals and edible fats and oils. All three stressed the fact that Venezuela had been unable so far to have its desires for agricultural and other machinery met in the United States and asserted that furnishing of such implements would help it to become self-sufficient in food production and so enable imports it now makes to be diverted to other markets.
Sr. Betancourt’s great interest in acquiring large amounts of agricultural and road machinery for his country and his arguments in support thereof are already familiar to the Department from previous correspondence on the subject and from the representations of the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington. His appeals and those of his subordinates on the subject constituted in effect the use of another channel to attempt to press his point.
On the departure of the Hoover mission from Maiquetía this morning, military honors were once more rendered by a naval guard. Mr. Hoover was seen off by the Chief of Protocol, the Venezuelan military aide assigned to him during his stay (Major Castro Gómez, Director of the Military School), the Counselor of the Embassy and myself.
Mr. Hoover’s 19-hour stay in Venezuela, while naturally not productive of any results toward solving the world food situation, was unquestionably helpful in the general sphere of Venezuelan-United States relations. There was a total absence during his stay of any of the Communist manifestations or press attacks which took place in other Latin American countries on his tour although the Communist press in Caracas had earlier attacked him as being an “emissary of imperialism.” In a conversation last evening, Junta President Betancourt intimated that this absence of Communist propaganda while Mr. Hoover was in Venezuela was due to the fact that he had caused it to be made known to Communist leaders that no demonstrations against Mr. Hoover would be tolerated.