Memorandum of Conversation, by the Chief of the Division of North and West Coast Affairs (Wells)


Bolivian Tin Negotiations

Participants: Señor Don Ricardo Martinez Vargas, Ambassador of Bolivia
Señor Don Raul Diez de Medina, Bolivian Minister Counselor
Assistant Secretary Braden
Mr. Wright, A–Br
Mr. Smith, A–Br
Mr. Wells, NWC

Repeating the history of his negotiations with RFC as stated to Mr. Briggs14 yesterday, the Ambassador lamented the original intransigent attitude of RFC, the long drawn-out haggling over every cent increase, his successful efforts to persuade the Bolivian producers to compromise their demand for 76 cents, and the embarrassing end results. He is on a spot, having reported to his Government with much satisfaction the conclusion of an agreement at 74 cents coincidentally with the Argentine offer of 76 cents. He is not certain how to proceed, but has counseled the producers to do nothing for the moment. Before taking further steps, he wishes to ascertain the attitude of this Government, particularly as to whether RFC would contract for the 12,000 tons remaining should Argentina purchase 8,000.

He reiterated forcibly his opinion that our take-it-or-leave-it attitude and our willingness to take advantage of price controls to drive a one-sided bargain are doing immense harm to the Good Neighbor policy. He contrasted our attitude with that of the Argentine mission, which is reported to have arrived at La Paz “to do business, not to bargain over price” and had concluded an agreement in six days.

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Mr. Braden agreed that the Ambassador’s principal points were well taken. In the Ambassador’s presence, he telephoned Mr. Thorp15 and urged that the economic divisions consider the matter urgently in order that the Bolivian Ambassador may be informed regarding our position. He suggested that the Ambassador, in the meantime, cable La Paz to inquire as to his Government’s attitude toward the RFC offer in view of the draft agreement with Argentina.

  1. Ellis O. Briggs, Director, Office of American Republic Affairs.
  2. Willard L. Thorp, Assistant Secretary of State for Economic Affairs.