856B.01/2

Memorandum of Conversation, by the Under Secretary of State (Welles)

The Ambassador of Venezuela1 called to see me this afternoon. Dr. Escalante told me that he was leaving Washington on April 24 and would sail the following day from New York for Venezuela in order to attend the session of the Venezuelan Senate of which he is a member.

I told the Ambassador that I would be grateful if he would talk over with his Foreign Minister, Dr. Gil Borges, the problems which might be suddenly raised with regard to the Dutch West Indies and Dutch Guiana in the event of an invasion of Holland by Germany. I stated that rumors had come to my attention which I had already transmitted to Dr. Gil Borges to the effect that attempts might be made by groups of Germans or other individuals operating from Venezuelan territory to create acts of sabotage in the Dutch West Indies. I added that if any further rumors of this character came to me I would, of course, transmit them in the same way for the confidential information of the Venezuelan Government. I said that it seemed to me that in the event of an invasion of the Netherlands by Germany an immediate consultation on the part of all of the American Republics would be desirable so as to consider the steps of prevention which might be taken in the interest of continental solidarity should the local authorities in the Dutch West Indies and in Dutch Guiana find themselves confronted with any concerted effort at sabotage or insurrection and should the situation arising from such possibilities create a condition where non-American activities would endanger the peace of the western world.

The Ambassador replied that he was in very hearty accord with these ideas and that he felt sure that his own Government would be in accord. He said that the rumors which had arisen alleging that [Page 730]the Government of Venezuela itself might attempt to seize the islands were utterly ludicrous and had originated from an article which had been published in a newspaper in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The article had later been circulated in certain Venezuelan cities in the form of hand bills. He said that these hand bills undoubtedly had been circulated by propagandists for the purpose of creating trouble and he had no doubt that non-American money was behind this circulation.

S[umner] W[elles]
  1. Don Diógenes Escalante.