800.48 FAA/12–1147

Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. W. Tapley Bennett, Area Specialist of the Division of Central America and Panama Affairs


During a conversation on other matters, Ambassador Gutiérrez took occasion to express the fear that the United States will “over-extend” itself in the carrying out of the projected aid programs for Europe.36 He said that in his opinion we, as the nation with the highest living standard in the world, often fail to realize that citizens of other countries exist on a great deal less than we would consider necessary. He said that he did not want in any way to imply criticism of our effort, which he considers magnificent, and that he considers such mistakes as we make to be mistakes of the heart.

I pointed out to the Ambassador that our programs have the aim of helping European countries to help themselves. He said he realizes that this is the aim of the program but that he personally does not feel that the European nations are doing their full part in the program. He mentioned the 16–nation aid conference in Paris last summer,37 asserting that the Europeans asked for a great deal but made very few concrete suggestions as to economic cooperation among themselves and contributions to the overall program. He offered the opinion that, while the United States has been and is outstanding in its generosity for other nations, it cannot go on being Lady Bountiful forever without undesirable dislocations at home and a dangerous depletion of national resources.

Ambassador Gutiérrez eventually reached the point which perhaps was the real reason for his reference to the subject of aid. He said that he was concerned lest United States aid to Europe should result in our forgetting the needs of the other American republics. He said that this feeling was quite prevalent in the Latin American diplomatic group here at the present time. He said that he had heard numerous heated discussions among his colleagues on the subject, and he mentioned the Mexican Ambassador38 as one individual with whom he himself had talked.39 The Ambassador concluded that, while it is realized that the [Page 598] problems of Latin America are simpler of solution than those of Europe, he maintains the hope, which he is sure is shared by his colleagues, that the needs of Latin America will not be overlooked. I, of course, assured the Ambassador that we desire to be helpful economically in every way possible within our natural economic limitations and that discussions to that end are under way at the present time.

  1. For documentation on the European Recovery Program, see volume iii .
  2. See a summary of the report of the Committee of European Economic Cooperation, which was signed on September 22, 1947, by representatives of the sixteen European countries meeting in Paris between July 12 and September 22, 1947, Department of State Bulletin, October 5, 1947, pp. 681–687.
  3. Antonio Espinosa de los Monteros.
  4. In a letter of December 1, 1947, to President Truman, the Ambassador in Mexico (Thurston) stated: “Remarks recently made to me by the Minister for Foreign Affairs indicate that official feeling here is that we are placing undue emphasis on shoring up and rebuilding European states (some of which were our opponents in the last war) and neglecting near neighbors and friends (some of whom were our active allies in the war) whose need for immediate development—both for economic reasons and as fortification against ideologies—is quite as great and urgent as that of a remote and probably ungrateful Europe.” (711.20/12–1247)