810.6363/3–2648: Circular telegram

The Secretary of State to Diplomatic Representatives in Certain American Republics 1


U.S. does not plan initiate discussions on petroleum at Bogotá2 but will be prepared discuss subject if introduced by any of other Latin American countries. Dept recognizes need promptly to increase available petroleum supplies Americas and U.S. delegation at its discretion will take such steps at Conference as seem appropriate assist in achieving this goal.

Every opportunity will be used before, during and after Conference to clarify to governments other American States through appropriate channels importance of petroleum to national and Hemisphere security and to economies all countries, especially as basis for industrialization, better standards of living, and improvement foreign exchange position.

Importance petroleum to Hemisphere security already has been presented by U.S. to Inter-American Defense Board and joint Brazilian-U.S. Defense Commission and will be presented to joint Mexican-U.S. and Canadian-U.S. Defense Commissions at earliest opportunity. Copy paper presented being forwarded air pouch.3

Stress will be placed on private petroleum development, Venezuela being outstanding example. With respect certain other Latin American countries it is hoped some impetus can be given through appropriate channels to revision legal structures so as make possible private foreign capital operation on non-discriminatory commercially competitive basis.

Crux of oil development in Latin America is problem of financing. American foreign economic policy has always emphasized desirability [Page 244] of private trade and private financing where at all feasible. In case petroleum development, this distinctly preferable as it is demonstrated that development will proceed more rapidly and opportunities for success greater if carried on under private management. Furthermore, American oil cos interested in development Latin America and large amounts capital available. Availability conditioned, however, on adequate safeguards against excessive national action.

Requests for materials necessary to carry on petroleum operations will be given sympathetic consideration with a view toward supplying necessary material to the extent possible. But it will not be possible make concrete commitments on this subject at Bogotá. Question of supplies of materials for industries other than petroleum as quid pro quos for petroleum development would so complicate and prolong any multilateral discussions that such questions will be avoided if possible.

It is expected that at Bogotá only general economic principles will be discussed, the details being left for bilateral discussions which may take place after the major conference, although no reference should be made to bilateral discussion this time.

  1. Sent to the Embassies in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, and Venezuela.
  2. Discussions on this subject were informal at the Ninth International Conference of American States, Bogotá, Colombia, March 30–May 2, 1948. For documentation on the Conference, see pp. 1 ff.
  3. Memorandum by the Executive Committee on Economic Foreign Policy, March 23, and Policy Decision, April 6, 1948, not printed.