824.504/3–1147

The Ambassador in Bolivia ( Flack ) to the Secretary of State

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No. 1077

Sir: I have the honor to transmit herewith two memoranda10 from the labor reporting officer11 concerning recent developments at the Catavi mine of Patiño Mines and Enterprises Consolidated (Incorporated). (Enclosures 1 and 2) Mr. Deringer, General Manager of Catavi, called on the Ambassador on the morning of March 8 and essentially repeated his views as quoted in the memoranda. At the request of the Ambassador, he promised that all women and children and as many of the male employees as possible would be evacuated from the Catavi area before any effort is made to bring on a showdown with the workers over the question of their pay for the eight-hour shift which took part in a sit-down strike on March 3.

The Junta of Government has issued a decree definitely characterizing the sit-down strike called by Juan Lechin12 as illegal and relieving the mining companies of any responsibility for wages for the shift which did no work during the eight-hour strike period. (See enclosure no. 3).

Although it is expected that the workers in general, and especially those at Catavi, will make all efforts to collect the wages in question, the mining industry is determined not to pay wages for a period in which no work was done. Patiño Mines and Enterprises is especially adamant in its determination not to pay and is apparently willing to resist to the point of closing down the Catavi property. The legal position of the mining companies cannot be questioned and has been reinforced by the decree of the Junta to which reference is made above.

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Because of the general fears of serious trouble in the mining areas, and especially at Catavi where the management was forced to sign an agreement to pay the wages in question, the Ambassador handed a note to the Sub-Secretary of Foreign Affairs at 2:30 P.M. on March 7, requesting protection for the American personnel at Catavi.13

. . . . . . .

Respectfully yours,

Joseph Flack
  1. Enclosures not printed.
  2. Spencer M. King.
  3. Executive Secretary, Federacíon Sindical de Trabajadores.
  4. In a note of the same date the Sub-Secretary for Foreign Affairs provided the assurances requested (824.504/3–1147).