Memorandum of Conversation Between President Truman and the President of Venezuela (Gallegos)1

Subject: Venezuela’s Requirements of Products in Short Supply

Participants: President Truman
President Gallegos
Dr. Pérez Alfonzo, Minister of Fomento
Sr. Gonzalo Carnevali, Venezuelan Ambassador
Dr. Andrés Eloy Blanco, Foreign Minister
Dr. Raúl Leoni, Minister of Labor
Dr. Gonzalo Barrios, Executive Secretary to President Gallegos

Place: In President Truman’s Special Car while en route from Washington, D.C. to Bolivar, Missouri.

The meeting was arranged at the request of Dr. Gonzalo Barrios, Executive Secretary to President Gallegos.

President Gallegos told President Truman that he appreciated the [Page 762]opportunity to inform the President of some of Venezuela’s problems as they relate to the procurement of supplies from the United States. He said that his Government has no intention of restricting the efficient production and exportation of petroleum, but that he wished the President to know that he is responsible to the people to see to it that revenue received from the industry is invested in productive enterprises, for diversification of industry and agriculture and for other projects intended to improve the lot of his people. He added that to carry out the program Venezuela must import necessary quantities of steel, machinery and other equipment from the United States and that he would welcome the President’s assistance in this connection. President Truman expressed interest in the problem and promised to cooperate with him.

President Gallegos then asked Dr. Pérez Alfonzo, the Minister of Fomento, to explain the situation. The Minister stressed the need for larger quantities of steel and referred, in this connection, to the development of the high-grade iron ore deposits in Venezuela by the United States Steel Corporation and the Bethlehem Steel Company. He said it was reasonable that Venezuela should receive an increase in the steel quotas in exchange for the exportation of from four million to six million tons of high-grade iron ore to the United States. He remarked that Bethlehem would initiate shipments next year and that the United States Steel would follow within a short time thereafter. He said he had been in touch with the companies and indicated that they were prepared to take care of Venezuela’s steel requirements but that Venezuela would have to arrange for the export licenses.

President Truman manifested interest in the plans and added that, in response to his request, Congress had included in the new draft law a provision giving the President authority to allocate products in short supply. He said that Government lawyers were studying the provision and that if it covered Venezuela’s case he would be pleased to implement it so as to assist Venezuela.

Dr. Pérez Alfonzo said that while the steel requirements of the petroleum industry were larger than the civilian needs of his country, they were equally important. He added that he had met with the Secretary of Commerce and that he had promised to send him a statement showing Venezuela’s requirements of steel, oils and fats and other products in short supply. He also stated that Dr. Leoni, the Minister of Labor, had conferred with the Acting Secretary of Labor but did not disclose the subjects they discussed.

Dr. Pérez Alfonzo referred in general terms to the 50/50 net profit arrangement with the petroleum companies and added that the relations between the Government and the companies were most satisfactory. [Page 763]President Truman said that he was pleased to know that and that the companies as well as the Mexican Government had learned a lesson from the experience in Mexico and that both now realize they made a mistake. Pérez Alfonzo pointed out that he shared this view and that Venezuela has also benefitted from the experience and that his country preferred to work with the private companies in developing the petroleum resources.

No definite commitments were entered into.

  1. Enclosure in despatch 577, July 21, 1948 from Caracas, not printed; Ambassador Donnelly, who prepared the memorandum, stated that the conversation took place on July 4. President Gallegos and his Committee were official guests of President Truman during a two weeks’ visit to the United States (831.001 Gallegos, Romulo/7–2048); for an account of this visit, see Pan American Union Bulletin, September 1948, vol. 82, pp. 481–494.