The Secretary of State to the Minister in Colombia ( Whitehouse )

No. 46

Sir: There are transmitted herewith, for your confidential information, copies of memoranda of conversations between the Chief of the Division of Latin American Affairs and Dr. Fabio Lozano, Colombian Minister at Washington, on April 6th, last;12 and between Mr. Welles, Assistant Secretary of State, and Dr. Lozano, on April 9, 1934.13 Both memoranda relate to the attitude of this Government toward the employment by that of Colombia of American citizens as aeronautical instructors. The following are also enclosed: a copy of a press release dated April 11, 1934, on this subject;14 a translation of a contract which the Colombian Government concluded with various American citizens for their services as aviation instructors, as well as photostatic copies’ of subsequent revised contracts with pilots and with mechanics15 from which, after objection had been made by this Government, certain provisions of the original contract were deleted, notably one actually enlisting the individuals in question in the Colombian armed forces, and another obligating them to fight in time of war.

As originally written, this Government was of the opinion that the contracts would violate the spirit, if not the strict letter, of Sections 21, 22 and 25 of Title 18 of the United States Code under the title of “Offenses against Neutrality”, particularly Section 22. The Department refused to issue passports to travel to Colombia to persons signing that contract, and requested the Colombian Minister not to make any further contracts or arrangements with American citizens where under the latter would be required to serve in the armed forces of Colombia, [Page 388] to recall the existing contracts and to delete from them the clause to this effect.

Upon the Colombian Government’s compliance with this Government’s’ request, passports were issued to the individuals signing the revised contracts, who departed for Colombia, according to the Department’s information, on April 12, 1934. There is enclosed a photostatic copy of the list of passengers sailing from New York on the SS Colombia on April 12, 1934.16 All of the passengers on this list whose destination is given as Puerto Colombia are understood to have taken service with the Colombian Government.

The names contained on the lists attached hereto are not exhaustive of Americans who have taken service with the Colombian Government inasmuch as this Government understands that further contracts are being signed by the Colombian Government with American citizens who will be proceeding to Colombia in the near future.

The Department desires’ you to apprise it of whatever information of interest may come to your attention regarding the activities of any of the American aviators in the service of the Colombian Government. Should any of the Americans under reference enlist in the Colombian armed forces or, in the event of the outbreak of hostilities to which Colombia might be a party, should they participate in such hostilities, this Government would of course have to request the surrender of the passports of the individuals concerned.

As the Legation will observe from the enclosed press release dated April 11, 1934, Americans holding reserve commissions in our Army or Navy will forfeit them if they enter the military service of a foreign country. You are therefore instructed to report to the Department the names that may come to your attention of any Americans who are reserve officers in the United States Army or Navy, serving in Colombia, in order that their names may be transmitted to the War and Navy Departments for appropriate action, should they enlist in the Colombian forces or take part in combat.

Very truly yours.

For the Secretary of State:
Sumner Welles
  1. Ante, p. 337.
  2. Latter memorandum not found in Department files.
  3. Ante, p. 381.
  4. Not printed.
  5. Not printed.