Memorandum Prepared in the Department for the Ambassador in Colombia (Wiley)42


The paramount purpose of the Proclaimed List program at present is to bring about the prompt elimination of Axis spearhead firms through the application of local controls. In countries where these controls have proved adequate the decrees generally provide for liquidation, forced sale or expropriation of Axis enterprises. In Colombia decrees were issued within two months of Pearl Harbor placing the property of Axis nationals under fiduciary administration. The funds-freezing feature of this regime proved an effective contribution to the economic warfare effort, but not many months had passed before it became apparent that fiduciary administration was in most respects a benevolent control system which, as a Colombian official remarked, was designed to preserve Axis assets rather than to eliminate Axis influence in the Colombian economy. The Colombian Government took the position that it was permissible to deal with a Proclaimed List firm if it was under fiduciary administration, on the theory that such dealings were with the Colombian Government. The Embassy has opposed this reasoning as nullifying the effectiveness of the Proclaimed List.

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Colombia presently ranks fourth among the American Republics in the number of names in the Proclaimed List, being preceded by Argentina, Chile and Peru. The disparity between the few countries like Colombia and those with effectively implemented controls will become more and more noticeable as mass deletions take place in the latter countries. The Interdepartmental Committee has for some time felt that the Proclaimed List for Colombia is unduly large, but would be reluctant to approve mass deletions for the reason that the Colombian Government might interpret such action as satisfaction with the progress being made in the elimination of Axis spearheads. No mass deletions for Colombia should therefore be contemplated before more progress has been made in the elimination of Axis spearheads unless the Embassy can place such deletions in their proper perspective before the Colombian authorities and can obtain from those authorities some assurance that they will expropriate all Axis spearheads within a reasonable time after the Congress has ratified the expropriation decree (no. 1723 of July 25, 1944).

  1. Copy transmitted to Bogotá in instruction 34, January 27, 1945, not printed.