825.5045/10–1747: Telegram

The Ambassador in Chile (Bowers) to the Secretary of State

us urgent

813. Although press this morning reports coal strike broken and miners returning work, situation still doubtful.

Press states Defense Minister General Barrios reported President last night that coal miners resistance ended shortly afternoon yesterday. This was confirmed to Embassy by Secretary General of Government this morning. Barrios attributed end resistance (1) arrangement secure coal US, (2) importation coal zone 1500 workers from other [Page 510] areas, (3) strict enforcement conscription in coal area, (4) tranquility imposed coal zone by calm attitude troops. Rationing to continue until amount production known and begin build stock. Further evacuation Communist leaders and those refusing work from zone began yesterday afternoon. 2300 reported Lota first two shifts yesterday.

Barrios’ statement reflects confidence determination military authorities handle situation possibly due prestige considerations. Also reflects probable government propaganda policy paint optimistic picture benefit public and undermine Communist influence. Optimism not shared Foreign Office and government coal officials, former possibly to maintain pressure US provide more coal and latter due anticipation production delays.

Embassy believes strike finishing as claimed but probability early resumption substantial production doubtful. Even though miners return work and coal is produced may be delay of month or more before supply situation materially eased due transportation disruption and possible technical difficulties. Shipments US coal essential maintain strength government position and as a safeguard since no assurance emergency is over. Communist El Siglo plays down settlement and points out government decree provides further discussion dispute.