810.20 Defense/4–445

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

No. 646

Sir: Supplementing earlier reports on the subject cited I now have the honor to forward herewith copies of the minutes of the fifth meeting of the Ground Forces Committee and the sixth, seventh, and eighth meetings of the Air Forces Committee of the Bilateral Military Staff Conversations.11 It is my understanding that these minutes cover the concluding meetings between the American and Bolivian Military officials and that no formal closing or plenary session took place. General Hardaway and his companions left La Paz for Panama on the morning of April 2.

General Hardaway has informed me that among the developments during the Conversations which attracted his attention are the following:

  • that whereas at the beginning of the Conversations the Bolivian representatives stated that their military budget was approximately Bs. 265,000,000 a few days later they implied that they desired to operate on a budget of Bs. 500,000,000;
  • that a similar elevation of aim with respect to the Bolivian Air Force also took place, the last comment on this subject by the Bolivians indicating that they desire to utilize about 40% (Bs. 200,000,000) of the expanded budget for the Air Force;
  • that Bolivia desires now to establish and maintain four complete air squadrons;
  • that Bolivia desires us to equip for them one complete Division;
  • that the data submitted by the Bolivians appeared to be absolutely complete, revealing every factor affecting Bolivia’s defense, and that this information was freely given to the American delegation without [Page 566] reserve, notwithstanding the fact that should it fall into the wrong hands the gravest consequences might follow; and finally
  • that without analyzing Bolivia’s immediate and potential economic position some doubt had arisen in his mind regarding the ability of the Bolivian State to support the burden of the plans contemplated.12

Insofar as I could observe personally and as information subsequently received from others indicates, the utmost good will prevailed throughout the Conversations and the American delegates without exception conducted themselves in a manner to win the personal regard and respect of their Bolivian colleagues. The members of the American group were presented with gifts by the Bolivian Army prior to their departure, the principal officers were entertained by the President at a small dinner and other attentions of a like nature were bestowed. The night before his contemplated departure General Hardaway gave a dinner at the La Paz Club in honor of the Minister of National Defense13 and the principal Bolivian officers who had participated in the Conversations. It is a pleasure to record the foregoing and to express praise of our officers for their comprehension of the importance of the establishment and maintenance of proper personal relations.

Respectfully yours,

Walter Thurston
  1. None printed except the minutes of the Eighth Meeting of the Air Committee, p. 563.
  2. For details of the plan submitted by the War Department, see telegram 690, October 25, 8 p.m., p. 569.
  3. Col. José Celestino Pinto.