Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. William P. Hudson of the Office of South American Affairs


Subject: Bolivian Request for Political Support for Foreign Minister Zilveti Arce

Participants: Sr. Ricardo Martinez Vargas, Ambassador of Bolivia
Mr. Thomas C. Mann, Deputy Assistant Secretary—ARA
Mr. Rollin S. Atwood—OSA
Mr. William P. Hudson—OSA

Ambassador Martinez Vargas first talked with Mr. Atwood and Mr. Hudson, reiterating the political urgency of Bolivia’s obtaining [Page 1145] a long-term tin contract with RFC. (See memorandum of conversation with him on April 10.1)

Mr. Atwood explained that the Department was still doing its best to arrange for a long-term contract, but that the prospects did not appear good.

Such being the case, Ambassador Martinez said that he had concluded it was desirable for the Bolivian producers to sign the short-term contract offered by the RFC,2 provided the Department of State could at the same time issue a press release referring to the eventual prospect of a long-term contract and to the impending reexamination of Bolivian economic problems. (See memorandum of conversation of April 5 between Assistant Secretary Miller and the Bolivian Foreign Minister.) The Ambassador said that when our statement was issued he would simultaneously release a statement to the effect that the Bolivian Government would take the necessary internal measures to increase the production of strategic materials.

Mr. Atwood expressed the opinion that the Ambassador’s proposal could probably be carried out;3 meanwhile, he said, the Department would continue its efforts to arrange a long-term tin contract.

Emphasizing once more the importance of providing some support for the Foreign Minister upon his return to Bolivia, the Ambassador said that he did not wish to take up the time of Secretary Acheson or President Truman, although he would do so if necessary, but that he did want to explain the situation personally to Mr. Mann.

The meeting having been moved to Mr. Mann’s office, the Ambassador repeated what he had told Mr. Atwood and Mr. Hudson and also referred to the conversation which Mr. Miller had had with the Bolivian Foreign Minister on April 5.

Mr. Mann assured the Ambassador that we appreciated what the Bolivian Foreign Minister had done in Washington and what he planned to do upon his return to Bolivia, and that the Department would do what it could about the problems which the Ambassador had presented. Referring to protests in La Paz against the Foreign Minister’s statement that Bolivia would supply troops for Korea, Mr. Mann suggested that the Ambassador remind Sr. Zilveti Arce that if [Page 1146] the Bolivians were complaining about spilling their blood for the Yankees, a lot of Yankees were also complaining about American blood already being spilled in Korea for Bolivia and other countries of this hemisphere.

[Here follows an exchange between Mr. Hudson and Ambassador Martinez Vargas concerning the rumored resignation of Foreign Minister Zilveti Arce.]

  1. In that memorandum, which was drafted by Mr. Hudson, Ambassador Martinez Vargas was reported to have stated, in part, “that signature of the tin contract was an absolute political necessity,” that a “long-term contract with a clause providing for periodic [price] adjustments might serve the purpose if signed immediately”, and that “the tin contract problem must be considered quite apart from the ‘package’ examination of Bolivia’s other problems.” (824.2544/4–1051)
  2. On April 23, 1951, Bolivian producers and the RFC signed an interim contract covering deliveries of tin concentrates to the United States government-owned smelter at Texas City, Texas, between March 1 and May 31, with the price based on the average Singapore price of tin for the period from April 10 to May 31, 1951.
  3. The Department issued a press release along the lines desired by Ambassador Martínez Vargas on April 23. For its text, see the Department of State Bulletin, May 7, 1951, p. 748.