The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Venezuela (Corrigan)
14. Your despatch 230, February 21, 1940.30 For your information the Department has agreed to participate in the collective protest of the American republics to the British Government in connection with the Wakama incident. According to the report received from the Brazilian Government, the sinking of this vessel took place 15 miles from the Brazilian coast when the vessel was hailed by a British war vessel obviously for purposes of search and capture.
The Venezuelan Government, in the memorandum attached to your despatch referred to above, raises the question whether the practice of visit and search constitutes a violation of the Declaration of Panama. You are requested to suggest to the Venezuelan Minister for Foreign Affairs that in this case the action of the British war vessel was the direct cause of the sinking by its own crew of the German freighter Wakama and that the incident therefore may fairly be described as an act of the type which the Declaration of Panama is intended to avoid within the security zone.
Please suggest to the Venezuelan Minister for Foreign Affairs that it would be most helpful in the interest of continental solidarity if the Venezuelan Government could adhere to the collective protest proposed by the Brazilian Government in this case without prejudice of course to a submission to the Neutrality Committee of the question of the practice of visit and search within the zone. (It is our hope that the Neutrality Committee will shortly receive through the Pan American Union an affirmative reply from all the American republics to its inquiry as to the Committee’s competence to deal with matters arising under the Declaration of Panama.)31