740.0011 EW/2–545: Telegram

The Ambassador in Chile ( Bowers ) to the Secretary of State

184. For Grew and Rockefeller.71 Department’s instruction 4697, January 26. Some papers here interpreting the Herald Tribune leak as a threat have carried rather nasty editorials, and this morning Fernández was in such a state of excitement over what he appears to think has made his position untenable that he talked of the possibility of his resignation with unaccustomed warmth. He said that that sort of thing implies a strange ignorance of Latin American psychology. He thinks the State Department should issue a statement correcting the popular impression that we have threatened any American nation, no matter how much it has consistently contributed to the cause of the United Nations, with exclusion from the peace conference unless it declares war now on the Axis. He can think of no reason why instant action is necessary and why the matter could not better be attended to in the Mexican Conference. This morning it seemed not improbable that he might resign. This afternoon he had considerably cooled off. He thought it would be politically stupid for the Government to inject a war declaration into a congressional debate, in the midst of a bitter political campaign since it would strengthen our enemies and weaken our friends. Senators for political reasons would not support the Government on a war declaration during the campaign who probably would afterwards. (2) But having read the President’s letter he finds that what is asked of Chile to qualify for an invitation to the coming United Nations Conference is that she should be a signatory of the United Nations Declaration. He thereupon in my presence sent for a Spanish copy of the Declaration and having read it carefully said he could see no reason why Chile cannot sign it and thus qualify. On each of the two points in the Declaration Chile already is acting and has for a long time. She certainly is giving [Page 762] her full economic resources against the Tripartite Pact and she has long been giving her full possible military resources by patroling and protecting 2,000 miles of Pacific coast with her naval vessels that are under orders to fire on any Axis vessel or submarine found in these waters. He will discuss this with the President tonight and I shall see him at 11 in the morning. The President asks me to see him at Vina at 8 o’clock tomorrow night.

  1. Nelson A. Rockefeller, Assistant Secretary of State for American Republic Affairs.