810.20 Defense/7–1040: Telegram

The Ambassador in Colombia ( Braden ) to the Secretary of State

186. For the Under Secretary. Department’s telegram No. 124. President summoned me today. He said he was speaking “personally and not as President”. Conversation may be summarized:

With reference to discussions between Ridgway, Canaga and Colombian officers, he wished “further to define proposed cooperation between the United States of America and Colombia”. Repeating many of his remarks on previous occasions, he stated that study by his Government indicated Colombia required 10 revenue cutters (5 for each coast) not merely fast speed boats but vessels which could subsist [Page 72] on own supplies for 10 or 15 days if necessary; 60 to 80 airplanes; extension of landing fields and ground facilities; 50,000 rifles, ammunition and other military equipment to permit increasing present army of 11,000 to at least 15,000 or possibly to double its size. He desired to replace existing European armament with American so Colombia would be independent of uncertain supply or whim of European dictators. Estimated cost of foregoing program 16 million dollars, which Colombia can only finance through a loan from the United States as described in my telegram No. 165, sections 3 and 4.4 Santos enigmatically still insists there is absolutely no danger of coup d’état by Germans but stated that with the foregoing loan and equipment Colombia could guarantee:

Internal order and normal political conditions.
Security of sea coasts and prevention of any attack on Canal from Colombian territory.

President explained his urgency for obtaining definition of what we can do in connection with aforementioned program especially with respect to possibility of loan, was because it is essential for him to present a definite plan to Congress when it convenes on July 20. Otherwise he fears Colombia’s action may be muddled by stress of political debate. (Informed strong opposition attack in Congress on Administration’s policy vis-à-vis United States of America.) Moreover, he believed enactment of this program, putting Colombia in a position to carry out points 1 and 2 of preceding paragraph, would be deterrent to totalitarians.

I explained I had informed my Government concerning Colombia’s needs but, since legislation might be necessary, I did not know how or when our plans in this particular would be formulated and I would cable his thoughts to you.

While I bear in mind second paragraph of Department’s telegram under reference, I must nevertheless make reply to President’s specific proposal. Please instruct.

  1. Telegram No. 165, June 21, 6 a.m., p. 67.