831.001 Gallegos, Rómulo/5–649

Memorandum by the Deputy Under Secretary of State (Rusk) to Mr. William D. Hassett, Secretary to President Truman

A telegram has been received from former President Rómulo Gallegos of Venezuela criticizing the activities of our delegation at the United Nations General Assembly1 and the Government delegation to the Regional ILO Conference at Montevideo.2 Ex-President Gallegos states that the activities of our delegations in connection with the consideration of human and labor rights problems in Venezuela do not correspond with the policies set forth in the President’s letter to him dated February 3, 1949. The original and a translation of President Gallegos’ telegram are attached.3

The facts are that the Uruguayan delegation at the General Assembly proposed to place the question of human rights in Venezuela before [Page 800]that body. The Department of State instructed our delegation to point out to the Uruguayans that discussion at that time in the General Assembly of the charges against Venezuela would play into the hands of the Soviet bloc and might produce an undignified squabble among the Latin American nations. It was also pointed out that an appeal to the United Nations seemed undesirable without first attempting to settle the matter within the inter-American family of nations.

As a result of discussions with the United States and other delegations at Lake Success, and in view of the action of the Venezuelan Government in releasing prisoners,4 the Uruguayans decided not to bring up the human rights question for the present. They have announced their future actions will depend upon the eventual release of all prisoners by the Venezuelan Government.

Ex-President Gallegos is now undoubtedly aware that his information regarding the views of our delegation at the Montevideo Conference was incorrect, since we voted in favor of a resolution recommending that the Governing Body of the ILO authorize the Director General to ascertain the facts regarding allegations concerning labor union conditions in Venezuela and Peru.5

It is felt that a reply should be made to President Gallegos, since it is desired to keep his good will in view of his influence in important political circles in Latin America and the possibility that he may some day regain influence inside Venezuela. Also to be considered is his personal acquaintance with the President based on his visit last July.6

At the same time, it would not be desirable to go into detail in replying to him since the full facts could not be revealed without embarrassing both the Uruguayan and the Venezuelan Governments. [Page 801]It is therefore recommended that the attached brief letter7 be sent to ex-President Gallegos over President Truman’s signature. If the President signs a letter to former President Gallegos, it is requested that it be returned to the State Department for forwarding to Gallegos through Ambassador Butler in Havana.

Dean Rusk
  1. The Second Part of the Third Regular Session of the U.N. General Assembly was held from April 5 to May 18, 1949.
  2. The Fourth Conference of American States Members of the International Labor Organization met at Montevideo from April 25 to May 8, 1949.
  3. Dated May 6, 1949, not printed.
  4. Department telegram 135, April 29, 1949, to Caracas (not printed), said in part that the United States intended to make clear that it was up to the Venezuelan Government, by an early release of prisoners, to forestall General Assembly consideration of this issue. The telegram stated also that should Uruguay insist on a vote to place the prisoner question on the Assembly’s agenda, the United States would probably vote in favor, consistent with the U.S. stand on human rights cases which had arisen within other countries. (831.00/4–2849) For documentation on other cases, see “Efforts by the United States To Assure Fulfillment of the Human Rights Articles of the Treaties of Peace with Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania”, volume v.
  5. Department telegram 108, May 2, 1949, to Montevideo (not printed), instructed the U.S. Government delegation to abstain if the resolution contained language that acknowledged the allegations of imprisonment for legitimate labor union activity to be facts (501.RA/4–3049). In despatch No. 208, May 11, from Montevideo, not printed, Ellis O. Briggs, Ambassador to Uruguay and U.S. Government delegate to the Conference, reported that after the resolution was amended to exclude such language the U.S. Government and Worker delegates voted in its favor. The U.S. Employer delegate abstained. The text of the resolution as amended is enclosed with the despatch (501.RA/5–1149).
  6. For documentation on the visit, see Foreign Relations, 1948, vol. ix, pp. 761764.
  7. In his brief reply of June 3, 1949 to ex-President Gallegos, not printed, President Truman said that U.S. Government delegations at international organizations would continue to strive for the effective advancement of democratic ideals (831.001 Gallegos, Rómulo/5–649).