810.50 Buenos Aires/11–2648: Circular airgram

The Secretary of State to Diplomatic Representatives in the American Republics


In response to any local Government inquiries regarding the United States attitude on possible postponement of Buenos Aires Economic Conference, the following will serve as guidance:

The United States did not propose the economic conference, but agreed to Resolution IX of the Rio Conference in 1947 calling for such conference and further supported the idea at Bogotá.1 The United States therefore feels committed, must and will cooperate fully toward the success of the conference, and has been active in Washington preparations. Particularly in view of the responsibility attributed to the United States for continued postponement of economic conference which the Latin American countries wished held 1943–45, the Department considers it important that the United States not be laid open to charges of attempting to sabotage the Buenos Aires Conf erence.

The Department recognizes the validity of certain questions raised regarding the usefulness of the conference. At the same time, the Department believes there are certain advantages attainable, particularly regarding use of the conference as probably a better sounding board than IAECOSOC in Washington or other medium in order to let Latin America know definitely what the United States is prepared and not prepared to do regarding Latin American economic development and other issues. Also, the conference offers occasion to sign a formal agreement to settle the problem of reservations to the Economic Agreement of Bogotá.2 The Department hopes by the end of January to place before the IAECOSOC, for the information of the Latin American Governments, its position and specific proposals regarding most issues expected to be important on the Buenos Aires agenda. [Page 74] It is of course possible that our proposals will not meet Latin American expectations and thus strengthen any latent Latin American ideas against holding the conference.

If, however, strong feeling exists among majority of the Latin American Governments against holding the Buenos Aires Conference, the United States would naturally abide by such majority view.

There is considerable Departmental opinion that multilateral conferences may be unsatisfactory means of achieving desires of Latin American countries for economic cooperation and development. These desires are almost without exception of bilateral character, that is, individual Latin country and the United States. While this Government still favors where practicable discussion and formulation of multilateral general principles, a more realistic approach to these problems might be through bilateral negotiations to achieve realization [realistic?] agreements or understandings covering economic development and hemisphere cooperation and including capital investment, taxation, strategic resources, inland transportation, aviation, shipping and general commercial problems.

The foregoing is for your background information.

The Department does not suggest that you take the initiative, but if local officials request the United States view regarding postponement or cancellation of the conference, you should state that the United States will be guided by the majority view of all the American Governments, and you may suggest that if such Governments wish to take action against holding the conference, this might most effectively be done by instructing their representatives on the IAECOSOC to exchange ideas with their colleagues. As between postponement and cancellation, the United States would prefer the latter.

  1. See the report of the American Delegation on the Inter-American Conference for the Maintenance of Continental Peace and Security, Quitandinha, Brazil, August 15–September 2, 1947 (Department of State Publication No. 3016), p. 42, and the report of the American Delegation on the Ninth International Conference of American States, Bogotá, Colombia, March 30–May 2, 1948 (Department of State Publication No. 3263), resolution VIII, p. 233.
  2. For documentation on the Bogotá Conference, see pp. 1 ff.