Memorandum of Conversation, by the Second Secretary of Embassy in Costa Rica (Snow)23


This morning at 10 o’clock, I called by appointment to see the Finance Minister24 on the subject of surplus property and the possibility that his Government might be willing to negotiate a contract with us similiar to the Colombian, Salvadoran and Guatemalan surplus contracts.25

[Page 592]

I first explained that we had a three-fold purpose in bringing the matter up. In the first place, we were desirous of disposing of our war surplus as soon as possible. Secondly, we desired a suitable piece of land in the vicinity of San José on which to build a new Embassy residence. Thirdly, we wished to offer the Costa Rican Government the same opportunity as that given to Colombia, El Salvador and Guatemala, as well as various other Latin American countries, in so far as acquiring material was concerned.

I gave him copies of the three agreements cited above, and briefly went over their terms with him. As for the discounts offered therein for purchases in excess of $300,000, I told him we realized that Costa Rica might not wish to go up that high. Therefore, we might not be able to grant discounts, but could possibly negotiate advantageous financing and credit terms for a sum below $300,000.

He asked if we had any specific plot of land in mind, or if we knew how much money we wished to spend for it. I replied that we did not,26 but that we would also be incurring expenditures in colones for the building of our new chancery. Any surplus property credit could also be used in that direction. He asked when we proposed to begin construction of the chancery. I replied that I understood July 1, 1947, to be the new date set.

We then discussed the nature of the surplus property available in the Canal Zone and Trinidad, with an explanation about the catalog system and a statement on my part to correct his impression that we were also selling arms and ammunition. I told him that we were merely disposing of tools, machinery, automotive equipment, surplus aircraft, food, clothing, etc. The Minister felt that although the Costa Rican Government could not at present attempt such a contract, the National Bank of Costa Rica conceivably might. For example, the Bank had credit while the Government did not, as he frankly put it. The Bank could obtain the land and the National Production Council affiliated with it might be able to use tools, automobiles, and the like, in its program of fostering the agricultural development of the country. He would present the matter at the next meeting of the Production Council, which would take place on Thursday, January 2, and let me know the results on the following day.

[Here follows a discussion of other financial matters.]

W. P. Snow
  1. Copy transmitted to the Department in despatch 2751, January 2, 1947, from San José; received January 7.
  2. Alvaro Bonilla Lara.
  3. Contracts not printed.
  4. Real property belonging to Victor Manuel Yglesias was transferred to the United States Government on June 13,1947, to be used as a site for the construction of the Embassy residence.