Memorandum by Mr. Edward A. Jamison, Special Assistant, Division of Special Inter-American Affairs to the Director, Office of American Republic Affairs (Daniels)


Following is a summary of the initial reactions which have been received from all the countries to which the circular airgram of December 1, 1948, on U.S. views regarding the American Committee on Dependent Territories, was sent.

Five of the six countries, besides the United States—Brazil, Chile, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Uruguay—which have not yet designated representatives have indicated that their views on the work of the Committee are substantially the same as those of the United States. The Brazilian reply indicated that Brazil would probably not appoint a representative, but that a final decision would soon be made. Chile indicated that it would probably not make an appointment unless an “incident” in the Antarctic should arouse public opinion in that country. The Nicaraguan Foreign Minister stated that his country would follow the United States lead as to action and policy. No clear decision on the question of appointment is indicated in the replies from Uruguay, the Dominican Republic or Bolivia. It had previously been indicated from Montevideo that Uruguay might feel impelled to appoint a representative if Argentine pressure were exerted.

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The Bolivian reply is somewhat confused, since it appears to indicate, on the one hand, that that government regards the Committee as unnecessarily overlapping UN matters, but on the other hand feels that the preparation of a report on the situation is properly within the sphere of the Inter-American Council of Jurists.

The Foreign Ministers of two governments, Haiti and Paraguay, which have appointed representatives, informed our Ambassadors that their views were in substantial agreement with those of the United States, while the Foreign Minister of Costa Rica, expressing his personal opinion in conformity with that of the United States, promised to refer the matter to the attention of the Junta, which has presumably been otherwise occupied in the intervening period.

Qualified agreement with the statement of this Government’s views was expressed by the Foreign Ministers of Colombia Honduras and Mexico. The Foreign Minister of Colombia, although he regarded the meeting without enthusiasm, indicated that there were some useful things which the Committee might do without attempting to set itself up as a court of law. Although requesting opportunity for further study, the Foreign Minister of Mexico tentatively commented that he felt it highly desirable for the U.S. to participate in the Committee and mentioned specifically that this might be a stabilizing factor in a meeting which might otherwise be utilized for the issuance of diatribes against certain states. Although admitting that other procedures should be utilized for dealing with existing controversies and that no effort should be made to obtain information from within non-self-governing territories, the Mexican Foreign Minister expressed the view that information proffered to the Committee by elements within such territories, if obtained from the United Nations or the controlling government, should be considered by the Committee.

The Foreign Ministers of Ecuador, Cuba, Panama and El Salvador indicated that they wished opportunity to study further the general question of the work of the Committee. Although tentative responses were received from the Foreign Ministers of Costa Rica and Mexico, as indicated above, they also indicated that further study would be made.

No reply has, of course, been received from Venezuela.

It seems that no great enthusiasm for active work on the part of the American Committee on Dependent Territories exists, except with respect to the presumed attitudes of Argentina and Guatemala. It also appears that if all the countries appointed representatives, the United States would have considerable support for its views, and that this would come from some of the larger and more important of the Latin American governments. (I recall however that a similar survey on this general question made prior to the Bogotá Conference reflected [Page 80] a situation not much different from that indicated above, and that much of the sympathy for U.S. views which was then expressed evaporated rather quickly under pressure of events at the Conference.)

If further appointments are not made, particularly by Brazil, Chile, Uruguay and the United States, it seems to me almost certain that the meeting will be dominated by Argentina, Guatemala, Cuba and, perhaps, Mexico, and that the reports made by the Committee will be extreme in their condemnation of the European governments concerned.

It is particularly interesting to note that the airgram’s reference to the undesirability of any action on the part of the American states at this crucial time in world affairs which would cause dissension and bitterness among friendly nations of the world appears to have been the most impressive single part of that communication. Special note of this paragraph was reflected in the replies from a number of countries.