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July 28, 1940 – Reports from Havana on the Inter-American Conference – NBC Radio – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
As America was inching closer and closer to full-out war, concerns were mounting over what could be a vigorous Fifth Column campaign on the part of Nazi Germany to gain a foothold on this side of the Atlantic to eventually invade the U.S.
The Havana Conference was a conference held in the Cuban capital, Havana, from July 21 to July 30, 1940. At the conference, delegates representing various countries of the Western Hemisphere agreed to collectively govern territories of nations that were taken over by the Axis powers of World War II and also declared that an attack on any nation in the region would be considered as an attack on all nations.
The conference was held from July 21 to July 30, 1940. The US had already publicly stated it would not accept transfer of territories to nations outside of the Americas, in a policy known as “No Transfer”. The delegation of the United States met resistance in their efforts from the Argentinian delegation. This resistance lessened after Roberto María Ortiz (the president of Argentina who was in ill health and had delegated his authority to Castillo) pressured the delegation to change tack. The US offered financial aid to countries present and an agreement was reached whereby territories of any European nation would be temporarily controlled by a “Pan-American trusteeship”. The agreement, however, still needed to be approved by a supermajority of American nations. The trusteeship would have one member from every American nation.
The “Act of Havana” further provided that if a European nation should fall before the agreement’s ratification, any of the countries could take over the relevant territories. The “Declaration of Reciprocal Assistance and Cooperation for the Defense of the Nations of the Americas” codified a one for all and all for one principle of American nations by stating that an attack on one country would be considered an attack on them all. This also provided for the creation of further pledges for mutual defense.
This general sense of unity between nations meant that the United States had been broadly successful. The agreement to a “no transfer doctrine” codified an aspect of the Monroe Doctrine and expanded it to nations besides the United States.
Here is a direct report from the Conference in Havana, as broadcast by NBC on July 28, 1940.
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