810.20 Defense/3–3145

The Ambassador in Bolivia ( Thurston ) to the Secretary of State

No. 632

Sir: I have received the following memorandum from Brigadier General F. P. Hardaway who, since the departure of General Brett, has been conducting on our behalf the Bilateral Staff Conversations with the Bolivian Army representatives (Secret despatch no. 610, March 24 [27], 1945 entitled “Bilateral Military Staff Conversations; United States-Bolivia”)—


La Paz, Bolivia.
29 March 1945.

“The following questions of a political aspect were propounded by Lt. General Peña y Lillo at the meeting on 28 March and are herewith referred to His Excellency the American Ambassador.

“First question: Bolivia has contributed greatly to the war effort (for example, has suffered 50,000 casualties through stepped up production in the mines) but has not shared equally with other South American countries in receiving equipment. Will Bolivia share equally in the future?

“Second question: How soon may Bolivia expect to receive armament for one division?

“Third question: In connection with the army of Bolivia and the part it will play in hemispheric defense will the U.S. consider the economic condition of Bolivia and her ability to pay?”

“(s) F. P. Hardaway
F. P. Hardaway,
Brigadier General, U.S.A

The Department will recall that in enclosure number four of the despatch cited another topic10 was disposed of by the participants in the conversations by reference to diplomatic channels.

While the procedure adopted at the meetings between our officials and those of Bolivia with respect to the subjects described in General [Page 565] Hardaway’s memorandum and in the despatch alluded to in the preceding paragraph appears to be irregular, it has seemed to me advisable to acquiesce in it. The Conversations have been marked by the utmost goodwill and frankness, and the deflection of so-called “political questions” toward the Embassy has enabled them to proceed without delays or disagreements. Should it be felt in Washington that these questions should be presented in a more formal manner it will of course be possible to arrange for such action. Otherwise, the Department may wish in due time to instruct me with respect to any replies or statements I should make regarding the questions posed.

Respectfully yours,

Walter Thurston
  1. This topic took the form of a question as to whether the United States would aid Bolivia if that country were unable to fulfill her commitments toward contributing to hemisphere defense.