Department of State Policy Statement



a. objectives

In its relations with Colombia the United States seeks to retain and perfect Colombian cooperation in our plans for western hemisphere defense; to persuade Colombia within the framework of our basic policy of non-intervention, to maintain and perfect her democratic institutions; and by furnishing economic and technical assistance, to help Colombia keep its traditional place as a stable, friendly democracy.

b. policies

Colombia during the first half of the twentieth century has been considered one of the most democratic and orderly nations of the hemisphere. This has facilitated cordial relations and has brought us together on ideological grounds. Throughout the war the Liberal administrations in Colombia cooperated well with the US, and the present Conservative regime has shown a similar willingness to continue collaboration with us and to further the development of an effective Inter-American system.

Increased trade with the US during the war made Colombia more than ever economically dependent upon us. 85% of Colombia’s exports came to the US and 72% of her imports were supplied by the US in 1947, as compared with 57% of exports and 54% of imports in 1939.

[Page 818]

The geographical position of Colombia on the Caribbean and Pacific approaches to the Panama Canal makes it unusually desirable that the best of relations be maintained. There is still some resentment over the part the US played in the events leading up to the separation of Panama from Colombia, but the feeling has almost ceased to be a factor of concern in US-Colombian relations. The echoes of it which are still occasionally heard come mostly from Communist groups on the one hand and university undergraduates on the other, usually manifested in political rallies, labor conferences and student demonstrations.

Events in Colombia during recent months have somewhat shaken our faith in Colombian democracy and have presented an obstacle in achieving our objectives. The imposition of a state of siege, restrictions on public gatherings, censorship of press and radio, a presidential election boycotted by one of the principal political parties which resulted in the election of a leader whose friendship for the US and whose devotion to democratic ideals are suspect, country-wide political violence which has not entirely ceased, and a wave of religious persecution, are not factors to inspire confidence.

Internal political situation. An understanding of our policy toward Colombia requires a rather full knowledge of recent political developments there.

Colombia is one of the few Latin American countries where political life is dominated by two traditional parties: the Liberal and the Conservative. The Liberal party represents mainly the middle class, organized labor, the poorer sections of the urban population, and the progressive element of business. Its program includes land reform, advanced social legislation, and industrial expansion. It began its 16 years in power with the administration of Olaya Herrera in 1930. It has been very friendly to the US and toward the general concept of democracy, although there are radicals in the leftist wing who are outspokenly “anti-Yankee.”

The Conservative party is representative of landowners, the Church and conservative business interests, and it is also strong among the rural masses in most departments of the country. Some of the most influential Conservative leaders, supported by important elements in the Roman Catholic hierarchy, formerly showed an anti-US and pro-totalitarian attitude, though this has not been so evident since the party came into power in 1946. The President-elect, Laureano Gómez, has been classified in this group. Since his election, he and his supporters have been at great pains to deny an anti-US bias, and have made emphatic declarations that his administration will fight communism relentlessly and give adequate guarantees to US business enterprises and investors.

[Page 819]

A continuing factor is the importance of the Roman Catholic Church, which was so strong that until a few years ago no one not enjoying the favor of the Church could aspire to high office in the Republic. The hierarchy usually gives its support to the Conservatives, and under the present administration has begun to regain some of its former power. The Catholic churches and educational institutions and prominent clergymen were special objects of attack by the masses during the rioting of April 1948. The attitude of the Church toward the US, decidedly critical in the past, seems to have become recently more friendly.

In 1946 a split in the ranks of the Liberal Party resulted in the election of the Conservative candidate, Mariano Ospina Pérez, the first representative of that party to hold the presidency since 1930. However, the Conservatives failed to carry either house of Congress, and as a result Ospina has had to cope with a hostile legislature since his inauguration. He endeavored to meet this situation by including equal numbers of Liberals and Conservatives in his Cabinet, but the two groups were never able to work harmoniously together. One Cabinet of “National Union” broke up in 1948 before the Ninth International Conference of American States1 met in Bogotá but the riots that followed the assassination of the popular Liberal leader, Jorge Eliécer Gaitán, brought the rival group back into another uneasy coalition. This bi-partisan cabinet lasted until May 1949 when the Liberals again withdrew.

The burning issues between the two parties are at present largely political: the Liberals claim that the Conservative administration is trying to pack the police, the election boards and the Government services with its own supporters and that murder and terrorism have been employed against Liberal voters, especially in the country districts. The Conservatives allege that the Liberals, during their long control of the national administration, loaded the electoral rolls with fraudulent voters and that a thorough reform of the whole electoral machinery has been necessary.

In the Congressional elections of June 5, 1949, the Liberal majority was reduced to six seats in the House and five in the Senate. Alarmed by this evidence of waning power, the Liberal leaders in Congress forced through a bill advancing the date of the presidential election from June 4, 1950 to November 27, 1949. When the Supreme Court, dividing on strict party lines, refused to sustain the President’s veto, the Conservatives decided to meet the Liberal challenge vigorously and nominated their most bitterly partisan leader, Laureano Gómez, as their presidential candidate. Simultaneously, there was unleashed a wave of terror throughout the country in which the victims were [Page 820] nearly always Liberals, although on some occasions the latter tried to retaliate. The situation became so bad that Darió Echandía, the Liberal candidate, announced on November 7 that he was withdrawing his candidacy and that his party would not participate in the elections.

Two days later, President Ospina learned that the Liberal majority in Congress was planning to unseat him, at least temporarily, by bringing impeachment charges. Faced with this threat, he quickly proclaimed a state of siege which had the effect of automatically suspending the session of Congress. The Army restored order, and the elections came off peacefully on November 27, resulting in the unopposed election of Laureano Gómez. The Liberals have made it clear they do not recognize the validity of Gómez’ election.

Since November 1949 the Army has been maintaining order throughout the country and the President has been governing without a Congress. A large national police force is being organized under the supervision of a British mission. Economically the position of Colombia has improved during this period: it has paid off all its commercial indebtedness, it closed the year with a balanced budget, it has built up its dollar and gold reserves to approximately $120,000,000, and soaring coffee prices have vastly strengthened the national economy. However, the situation is unsatisfactory and potentially dangerous, for the Liberal majority has come to consider itself held in subjection by a Conservative dictatorship supported by the Church and maintained by the Army. There can be little doubt that were it not for the repressive measures of the Army and the police there would be serious civil strife today.

Our policy in the present situation is to steer a careful neutral course, striving on the one hand to avoid giving substance to Liberal accusations that the US is arming the present administration to set up a dictatorship of a minority party in Colombia, and on the other hand pursuing our traditional policy of cooperating with the constituted government of the country and abstaining from intervention in domestic political affairs.

Communism and Labor. Since the war the Communist party has resumed its attitude of hostility toward the US. It lost ground in the 1945 elections and suffered a serious defeat in January 1946 when the Liberal Government forbade a strike among the Magdalena River workmen. In 1947 it split into two groups, which reunited in late 1949. It is in strong disfavor with the present government. Confidential reports indicate that there are less than 4,000 in the Communist party; there is at the same time reason for suspicion that some Communists are going underground and allying themselves with Liberals of the extreme left. Despite its decline in numerical strength, and despite the surge of anti-Communist sentiment following the events of April 1948, [Page 821] communism continues by virtue of its influential position in labor bodies to constitute a potent force which must be reckoned with in Colombia, and no false sense of security should be entertained regarding the long-run dangers of communism there. It is felt, however, that the present Colombian Government could with relative ease suppress the Communists and render them ineffective in the event of a national or international emergency.

The Colombian labor movement was badly split at the Eighth National Labor Congress in August 1946 and for four months there existed two Colombian Federations of Labor one controlled by Liberals and one by Communists. The Colombian Federation of Labor (CTC) has a Liberal President and an Executive Board composed of 6 Liberals and 3 Communists, the latter holding key positions, A rival federation of labor unions, the Union of Colombian Workmen (UTC) was in 1949 given official recognition in place of the CTC. The UTC was founded under Catholic auspices and is still closely connected with the Roman Catholic Church being referred to as a “confessional union” by its enemies.

It is our hope that the CTC will find the way to purge itself of Communist elements and enter into closer relationship with non-Communist international labor organizations. We should impress upon Colombia the necessity of taking precautions to prevent the Communists from seriously jeopardizing the country’s economy in the event of a national emergency in particular by sabotaging the petroleum installations.

Collaboration in hemisphere defense. Colombia is of great potential importance in any system of hemisphere defense because of its strategic proximity to the Panama Canal and its frontage on both the Caribbean and the Pacific although at present we do not envisage asking for any bases in Colombian territory for the permanent defense of the Panama Canal. During 1948 and 1949, at the initiative of the Secretary of the Army, a preliminary ground survey was made with Colombian collaboration to determine the possibility of constructing a second interoceanic canal across the Darien Isthmus. It is a policy of the United States to insure that no potential enemy gains a foothold on Colombian territory as a base for operations.

The US has sought to further Colombian military collaboration by permitting the export to Colombia of reasonable amounts of military equipment considered necessary for its internal security. However, Colombia’s lack of dollars to pay for military supplies and the shortage of US equipment for sale to Latin American countries are factors which tend to limit the amount of material which is likely to be sold to Colombia under the provisions of the Mutual Defense Act of 1949.2

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We should try to assure ourselves that possible accusations of favoritism for one political party would not make compliance with the requisitions inadvisable and that the arms shipped will not tend to intensify disorder but contribute rather to the maintenance of stability. The amounts should be reasonable and in line with the needs of Colombia’s armed strength, not in such excess as to excite suspicion on the part of her neighbors.

It is also our policy to assist Colombia in the standardization of her military methods through US training missions assigned to Colombia and through the training of Colombian military personnel in US army and navy schools. We have now an Air Force Mission, an Army Mission, and a Naval Mission consulting with and advising Colombians.

Attitude toward democratic institutions. We have been much disturbed by recent developments in Colombian political and religious life. Colombia has been under a state of siege since November 9, 1949. During that period the national Congress has not been permitted to meet, nor have any departmental and municipal bodies been allowed to assemble except where the Conservative governors have considered it safe for the party’s interests for them to do so. Press and radio are under strict censorship, and the mails, telegrams and cables, and even telephone conversations are subject to official supervision. The Council of State and the Supreme Court, both of which until recently had Liberal majorities, have been brought under control by what the government calls constitutional means. The highest ranking military officers have in many cases been superseded by others of whose pro-Conservative sympathies there can be no doubt. The Liberals charge that throughout the civil service their members have been discharged wholesale and the jobs given to Conservatives; they also charge that coercive measures have been employed everywhere to repress Liberals or bring them into line, and that the police have been hand-picked for expressly this purpose.

There is thus far no indication as to when the state of siege will be lifted. Congress must reconvene when that takes place, and observers on both sides doubt that the government will allow this until by some political deal or coercive measure the Liberal majority in Congress can be overcome and assurance obtained that Congress will not impeach the President or repeal the extraordinary legislation issued by executive decree during the emergency.

During the last months, moreover, there has been a violent persecution of Protestants in at least twelve departments of Colombia. Word has come to the Department from sources considered to be thoroughly trustworthy that from twelve to twenty Protestant churches and chapels have been burned or dynamited, congregations broken up and hundreds of members driven from their homes, in [Page 823] many cases with loss of life or with outrageous treatment of both men and women. It is charged that this wave of persecution has been in some cases abetted by the Catholic clergy, police and certain public officials. While it is admitted that the religious persecution is closely associated with the political violence, since most Protestants are Liberals, and while there have been no reported deaths of American citizens or serious damage to American property, these outbreaks of religious intolerance are a blot on Colombia’s record, and the Conservative party and government cannot escape a share of the responsibility for them. There is reason to believe that the government is aware of this and will take the necessary steps to prevent their recurrence.

We have more than once expressed our concern about some of these developments to the Colombians. For a time the Department was not prepared to recommend favorable consideration of Colombian loan applications during a state of siege. We have discouraged the visits of US naval vessels to Colombia to avoid giving the impression that the US approved of all the actions of the Colombian Government, and we have also discouraged formal visits by high US officials. Recently when the suggestion was made that President-elect Gómez be invited to visit the US, we informed our Embassy that we could not encourage such a visit, both because of the unfavorable press reception he would be sure to have in this country and because the schedule of official visits from Latin America for 1950 is already full. In general, our policy is to persuade the Colombian Government to relax its present restrictions upon democratic institutions and urge it to avoid drifting into a dictatorship of the right. We endeavor to orient our public affairs program so as to obtain more adherents for democratic ideals. In any of our actions seeking changes in internal Colombian affairs we are guided and limited by our strict observance of the principle of non-intervention.

Economic relations. In encouraging economic development in Colombia it is our policy to place emphasis on the improvement of agricultural production and of transportation. Technical assistance is now rendered in a number of fields of activity, including agricultural research, rubber experimentation, combating plant diseases and insect pests, irrigation and power projects, health and sanitation, railway and highway development, the coal industry, civil administration reform, and banking reform. In the financing of development projects, investment of private US capital is encouraged. An effective way to reassure American capital is through the conclusion of a comprehensive treaty of friendship, commerce and economic development, although if such a treaty cannot be obtained, alternative ways of protecting American capital will be explored.

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The US–Colombia Treaty of 1846,3 not the weakest of treaties of that period, is nevertheless outmoded and its replacement with an up-to-date Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Economic Development is being considered under the Department’s treaty program. US business interests have been urging a new treaty for some time. A draft of a general FCED treaty was submitted to the Colombian Government in 1942, and revised drafts in 1948 and in January 1950. Exploratory conversations on the latest draft are under way, and it is intended shortly to enter into actual negotiations. The principal impetus to negotiations comes from Colombia’s need to attract and our need to protect US capital investment. Colombia has indicated it favors the proposed treaty in principle, provided we also proceed with the final steps in negotiating the income tax and estate tax conventions agreed upon by the representatives of the two countries at Bogotá last year.

With respect to requests for assistance from government agencies in financing economic development projects, it is our policy to favor consideration according to the criteria of economic justification and availability of private capital. We have recognized, however, that emergency requirements such as those that arose from the events of April 1948 deserve unusually sympathetic consideration. At the same time it is US policy to urge Colombia to finance concomitant local currency costs for reconstruction through non-inflationary means, in order among other things to avoid further pressure on the exchange rate by an increase of the circulating medium. We have encouraged Colombia to cooperate with the International Monetary Fund by pursuing fiscal and foreign exchange policies, which, following the devaluation of the peso in December 1948, would result in simplification of controls over international payments.

Protectionist sentiment has increased in Colombia in recent years, inspired by expansion in domestic industries. On two occasions legislative proposals to increase customs duties across the board all but passed. A concurrent movement, which probably never had much serious study, to revise the Colombian tariff system from a specific to an ad valorem duty basis, was abandoned. Post-war price rises that impaired the revenue value of the peso, plus the protectionist motivation, furnished the impetus to the Colombian objective of general upward adjustment. However, the Reciprocal Trade Agreement of 19364 bound rates on many products against increase, and Colombia as a signatory of the ITO Charter was committed to seek tariff reductions. After GATT tariff negotiations broke down, the Trade Agreement [Page 825] was jointly terminated on December 1, 1949,5 giving Colombia freedom of action. It is hoped Colombia may still adhere to GATT principles and join that organization.

Lend-Lease indebtedness payments are supposed to be made in dollars. Owing to the critical shortage of dollar exchange over the past two years, Colombia has made no Lend-Lease payments. The Department has indicated to the Colombians that it would be willing to negotiate the Lend-Lease agreements to make it possible for Colombia to pay the long overdue dollar obligation in pesos which could be used for the acquisition of real property for diplomatic purposes and for other governmental expenses, but there is a strong probability that Colombia will liquidate this debt in dollars. Recent increases in the reserve position make it possible for Colombia to do this.

The Colombian Government has indicated that the Tropical Oil Company’s De Mares Concession, which expires in 1951, will not be renewed. Apparently the government plans to operate the property as a federal enterprise, although it appears to be interested in the possibility of making arrangements with a technically qualified company to manage operation and development of the Concession. Colombia’s decision is indicative of a trend that is unfavorable to the expansion of petroleum production by foreign companies. An amendment to the petroleum law, promulgated as a decree law on January 4, 1950, failed to provide the incentives for new oil developments or to grant the companies the relief they had hoped for. The companies also object to compulsory arbitration on all issues, as well as labor’s attempt to invade the field of management, maintaining that the ultimate result would be complete labor domination of the industry and the forced withdrawal of foreign oil firms from Colombia. It must not be overlooked, either, that the world petroleum situation has changed since the war to one of long supply. Oil companies operating in Colombia are cutting back production in other countries and opportunities for oil development are far more favorable in other areas such as Canada. As a result of this unfavorable situation a number of oil companies have recently withdrawn from Colombia and the drilling of exploratory tests has come to a standstill. Future developments in the Colombian petroleum industry, especially the nationalization aspect, will depend in large measure upon broad political developments. There is considerable support for nationalization from Liberal and Communist labor groups.

Although the assistance of the Embassy has been requested by the oil companies on these issues, our policy is on the one hand to avoid intervening in internal Colombian labor affairs and on the other hand to see it that US oil interests receive fair treatment as long as their [Page 826] concessions are in force and adequate payment is provided in the event of expropriation. We also desire to prevent the important oil fields of Colombia from falling into unfriendly hands.

The Olaya–Kellogg air pact of 1929,6 concluded in the days when international air operations were limited to flying boat services, is now obsolete and it is contemplated that a new agreement will be negotiated, based on the “Bermuda” principles.7 It is US policy to give Colombian civil aviation such support as is necessary to let it play its natural part, as indicated by its strategic position in the western hemisphere air transportation pattern.

While we do not wish to obstruct the creation and development of merchant fleets by any foreign country and recognize the right of nations to subsidize their merchant shipping, we do object to the strengthening of their merchant fleets through discriminatory practices against US shipping. We have consequently registered our objections to certain discriminations adopted by the Colombian Government for the protection of the Gran Colombiana Merchant Marine, owned jointly by Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador. These discriminations include freedom of the Gran Colombiana vessels from the payment of port dues, income tax, and inheritance tax, to which foreign vessels are subject. This is against our traditional policy of national treatment of shipping, which is extended to Colombian vessels in US ports. We have also called attention to the action of the National Coffee Growers’ Federation, a semi-official Colombian agency which has financed the Colombian investment in the joint merchant marine, in pressing for the shipment of coffee in Gran Colombiana vessels. On the other hand, Colombia objects to the US requirement that goods shipped abroad as purchases through Export-Import Bank loans be carried in US ships. Complaints that the Gran Colombiana was accepting payment for southbound freight in pesos, contrary to Conference provisions, were settled by mutual agreement with the Conference in New York recently after the Department and the Embassy had brought to the attention of both parties the advisability of settling this dispute.8

c. relations with other states

Colombia’s relations with her neighbors—Panama, Ecuador, Brazil and Venezuela—are generally friendly. Colombia, as the most centrally located, has been the foremost promoter of the “Gran Colombiana” idea: that is, the reuniting of Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela—and, it is hoped, Panama—into one nation. The drawing together of these [Page 827] countries along economic and cultural lines is sympathetically regarded by the other Republics, but no political union is contemplated in the predictable future. The formation of the Gran Colombiana Merchant Marine and the calling of the Gran Colombiana Economic Conference at Quito in July 1948 indicate that economic and cultural cooperation between the three countries is becoming more positive than hitherto. Our policy is to encourage such cooperation, provided it does not result in discrimination against other nations.

Colombia, more sympathetic to Ecuador and with a latent fear of Peru, avoids becoming involved in any disputes between those two countries. The “Leticia Settlement” of the Amazon frontier in 19339 was satisfactory neither to Colombia nor to Peru, and Colombians privately support Ecuador’s contention that a third of her territory was taken by her neighbor. Colombia fears that Peru may again attempt to enforce its claim to all the land south of the Caquetá, if Peru feels the moment is propitious. In early 1949 relations became strained because of the refusal of the Peruvian Government to grant a safe conduct to the Aprista leader Haya de la Torre, who had sought asylum in the Colombian Embassy at Lima; this dispute has been referred to the Hague Court for solution by agreement of both countries concerned. As a matter of policy, we make every effort to prevent any threatened deterioration of relations between Colombia and Peru.10

During 1948 there was tension between Colombia and Venezuela, based primarily on the conviction of President Ospina and his advisers that Rómulo Betancourt and his dominant Acción Democrática party were hostile to his administration and desired its overthrow. Since the coup d’état of November 24, 1948, in Venezuela, there have been no indications of any further misunderstanding between the two countries.

Diplomatic relations between Colombia and the Soviet Union were suspended in May 1948. The Colombian Government gave as its reason for this step the total absence of economic and spiritual ties between the two countries and the difficulties placed in the way of the Colombian Legation in Moscow in carrying out its official functions. The Legation in Bogotá had been considered one of the most important missions of the USSR in Latin America.

The present administration is in favor of closer relations with the Franco regime in Spain, and would like to see it accepted on a more cordial basis by other UN nations. The Colombian Mission at Madrid has recently been raised to the status of an Embassy.

Colombia’s record of participation in the affairs of the Inter-American system has been excellent. It was one of the first countries to ratify [Page 828] the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance11 signed in Rio in September 1947 and has played a leading part in insisting in its effective implementation in suitable cases. Colombia has also cooperated well with us in the United Nations Organization. It was represented on the Security Council from January 1947 through December 1948, and on the whole advanced generally constructive proposals. The Chief of the Colombian delegation at that time worked hard on the Berlin question and was most helpful on the Palestine question. In the General Assembly in 1949, however, Colombia cooperated with us on most issues, but took a leading role in urging the adoption of a plan for the internationalization of Jerusalem, which we considered unrealistic and unfortunate. In April 1948 Colombia was appointed one of the five members of the UN Commission for India and Pakistan, and the Colombian representative played an active part in the Commission’s deliberations.

d. policy evaluation

Colombian support of US objectives during the past war was excellent and effective. Colombia severed relations with Japan on December 8, 1941, with Germany and Italy on December 19, 1941, and with Vichy France on November 26, 1942. It later proclaimed a state of belligerency with both Germany and Japan, granted the use of naval and aviation facilities, including a temporary seaplane base at Cartagena (later moved to Barranquilla) for submarine patrol in the Panama Canal defense area; nationalized the German-controlled aviation network SCADTA; was cooperative in detention and repatriation of enemy aliens; and permitted the US to develop strategic products, notably rubber and cinchona. There is every reason to believe that in the event of another world conflict its contribution would be equally prompt and generous.

The temperament of the Colombian people and the long record of internal peace make unlikely any serious degree of international instability which could be exploited by a foreign power to our disadvantage. Despite the uprising of April 9, 1948, brief riots and misfired plots in 1944 and 1945, and civil disturbances in 1949, Colombia has had no violent overthrow of government or civil war since 1903, and the traditional respect for law and order should enable the country to overcome such threats. The loyalty of the army to the Government since the declaration of a state of siege on November 9, 1949 was reassuring in its indication that the Army intends to abstain from politics. It thus appears that our policy of neutrality has proved adequate to the circumstances and that little would be gained and much [Page 829] lost by abandoning our attitude of complete non-intervention in Colombian internal political affairs.

Apparently as a result of informal representations in the Department and at Bogotá regarding the distress of Colombia Protestants caused by attacks of religious fanatics, the Department was recently informed12 that President Ospina has issued instructions to the governors of all the country’s departments that they shall see to it that this persecution ceases.

In the economic field our activities have yielded mixed results: we have been successful in protecting certain American commercial interests, such as the shipping lines, and have persuaded the Colombians to undertake formal negotiations for a treaty of friendship, commerce and economic development, but we have not succeeded in inducing the Colombian Government to modify its system of economic controls so as to create an atmosphere favorable to the free inflow of American private capital. Loans by the Eximbank and International Bank have enabled Colombia to shore up its economy at points of crucial weakness: road and rail transport, electric power, and agricultural production. However, the Banks cannot be expected, nor would their resources permit it, to extend loans in such volume as to carry the major portion of Colombia’s capital requirements for economic development. The Colombian Government and private capital must make the largest contribution, with the Bank providing supplemental assistance. This calls for a continuance of our patient efforts to improve the conditions under which private investment operates in Colombia.

We should make every effort to guarantee that Colombian support of US objectives is more effective by establishing an identity of democratic purposes, using more fully all of our present methods, such as: technical assistance, including the training of technicians and students in the US; Eximbank and International Bank loans for sound projects, while encouraging conditions that will be attractive to private developmental capital; and direct military collaboration. These methods would serve to strengthen Colombia as a component country of the hemisphere for common security and prosperous economic and cultural interchange, as well as to obtain more unqualified short-term political cooperation from Colombia.

We have made important contributions to the physical and social betterment of Colombia through the establishment of a national school of nursing, constructing and equipping eight hospitals and six health centers, supervising programs for the control of malaria, typhus, goitre and yaws, directing sewage disposal projects, and giving advice and leadership in the improvement of nutrition. Our technical [Page 830] assistance in irrigation, soil conservation, civil aviation, highway construction, improvement of methods of transportation, and in numerous other fields has resulted in appreciable improvements in the fields to which it has been directed. It is more difficult to assess the achievement of the technical assistance program in terms of gaining support for US policy objectives, since such results are indirect and less tangible. In the expansion of technical assistance contemplated under the Point 4 program13 we must be more careful to select personnel who will reflect credit on the US and maintain cordial and cooperative relations with their Colombian colleagues. Otherwise our monetary expenditures will be in vain.

Our public affairs program is playing an increasingly important role in developing wide popular support for US policy objectives. This program has done much to convince the Colombian people of the falsity of Communist claims to a monopoly on plans for improving the standard of living of the masses. We must, however, make even stronger efforts to come into more direct contact with the “common people” and to influence them towards a democratic solution of their problems. We need also to do more to reverse the trend towards economic nationalism which has been so pronounced in recent years. Both parties have become deeply infected with the desire to control by government fiat the economic processes of the country, and much time and patient effort, not only through the public affairs program but also by all the facilities of our Government will be required before any positive results can be expected.

  1. For documentation concerning this Conference, held at Bogotá from March 30 to May 2, 1948, see Foreign Relations, 1948, vol. ix, pp. 1 ff.
  2. Documentation on military assistance policy toward the American Republics is scheduled for publication in volume i.
  3. For text of the Treaty of Peace, Amity, Navigation, and Commerce between the United States and New Granada, signed at Bogotá December 12, 1846, see Department of State Treaty Series (TS) No. 54, or 9 Stat. 881.
  4. September 13, 1935; 49 Stat. (pt. 2) 3875.
  5. By terms of an exchange of notes in Washington on October 12, 1949, United States Treaties and Other International Agreements (UST), vol. 2, p. 569.
  6. The exchange of notes in Washington on February 23, 1929, is printed in Foreign Relations, 1929, vol. ii, pp. 882884.
  7. For documentation regarding the Bermuda air agreement and relevant information relating thereto, see ibid., 1946, vol. i, pp. 1450 ff., and ibid., 1949, vol. i, pp. 789 ff.
  8. Reference is apparently to the agreement cited in footnote 3, p. 824.
  9. For documentation, see Foreign Relations, 1933, vol. iv, pp. 384582.
  10. For documentation concerning developments during 1950 in the case of Sr. Haya de la Torre, see pp. 982 ff.
  11. Text is printed in Department of State, Treaties and Other International Acts Series (TIAS) No. 1838, and 62 Stat. (pt. 2) 1681.
  12. By Ambassador Eduardo Zuleta Angel, in Washington. (Memorandum by Willard F. Barber, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, March 14, 1950, not printed.)
  13. For documentation concerning the application of the Point 4 program to American Republics, see pp. 672690, passim.