303. Editorial Note

Documentation on U.S. relations with Colombia is being printed in an accompanying microform supplement. A narrative summary, based on that documentation, is provided below, along with a purport list of the documents. The numbers cited in this summary correspond to the document numbers in the purport list and the microform supplement.

During the last 3 years of the Eisenhower administration, the United States maintained cordial relations with Colombia. In 1958, the reopening of Protestant churches in Colombia was the main U.S. concern, while in 1959 and 1960, the United States listened sympathetically to Colombian requests for economic assistance. Throughout the 3-year period high-level visits by officials of both countries figured prominently in the relationship.

On January 16, 1958, Ambassador Cabot called on Colombian Minister of Government Rengifo primarily to discuss the question of the Protestant churches which had been closed. Cabot stressed that he realized this was a delicate matter, but emphasized that every time the Eisenhower administration tried to obtain loans for Colombia, Protestants in the United States raised the question of the churches in Congress, and the aid could not be secured. Rengifo promised to do what he could. (CO–1) Assistant Secretary of State Rubottom also raised the question during a visit to Colombia, March 1–4, 1958. In a conversation with the Colombian Foreign Minister, Rubottom said that it was disappointing that only two churches had been reopened. When the Foreign Minister replied that, while it had been dangerous, Colombia had allowed additional churches to open, Ambassador Cabot informed him that this was not the case. (CO–4)

Ambassador Cabot reported in July that the situation had not improved. He suggested that attacking the problem head on would probably not succeed, and the new Colombian Government should be allowed to improve its record on the question gradually. (CO–11) By the end of the year this approach seemed to be working. (CO–16)

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The Colombian Minister of Foreign Relations had raised the question of economic assistance during a visit to Washington in April 1958 (CO–8), but it was not until 1959 that President Lleras Camargo approached Ambassador Cabot. (CO–20) In commenting on the President’s proposal for a $200-million loan to Colombia, the Department of State and the Export-Import Bank both indicated their sympathy for Colombia’s economic problems, but stated that the sum was overly ambitious in terms of the resources available in the United States. (CO–21)

The initial 1959 request was supplemented in 1960 by an approach from Colombia for assistance with a major land reform program. In preparation for Lleras Camargo’s visit to the United States in April, the Director of the International Cooperation Administration and the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs sent a joint memorandum to Under Secretary of State Dillon recommending a sympathetic hearing for the program and U.S. involvement with it. (CO–25) While Lleras Camargo discussed a wide variety of topics with President Eisenhower and Secretary of State Herter, the main theme of their conversations was economic assistance. (CO–28 through 33) The trip to Washington was successful and resulted in the announcement in September of a $70-million credit from the Development Loan Fund and the Export-Import Bank.