810.20 Defense/9–1540: Telegram
The Ambassador in Colombia (Braden) to the Secretary of State
[Received 9:54 p.m.]
270. My telegram No. 267, September 13. In a 2–hour conversation today with Minister of Foreign Affairs essential points advanced by him were (in addition to that of my telegram No. 269 of September 1410):
- Debate on foreign and defense policies was now won but Government before taking vote would permit members of opposition to get undelivered speeches out of their systems.
- Gomez was losing following which will not participate in uprising against Government. Nevertheless he still is Conservative Party leader because only he dedicates 24 hours a day to politics.
- Far and away most valuable defense cooperation Colombia could offer the United States and other republics was maintenance of its internal stability and order. This his Government did without reservation.
- Efficacy of Colombian patrols and other military forces would be increased by $16,000,000 armament loan but irrespective of whether this or other economic aid were forthcoming from the United States this country would perform its duty to guarantee that no attack could ever be launched on Panama Canal from here.
- The essential for United States-Colombian relations was mutual confidence and he begged that my Government have complete confidence in his.
- He had warned German, Italian and Spanish Ministers against improper propaganda dissemination especially that directed to the army. Because of proven infractions he had had to issue a second warning to the first-named representative.
My opinions on the foregoing are:
- This is wise procedure.
- The upper class intelligent Conservatives differ with Gomez but the party masses appear to be following him enthusiastically. …
- This is accurate statement made in complete good faith. …
- Idem; and I have already discreetly intimated to Minister of War that armament aid from us should be subject to Colombia’s ability to utilize it and to our production schedules; for example today aviation materials should be restricted to training planes and ground equipment. While we must at least make a show of assisting in these particulars each step must be carefully and surely taken.
- I replied that since there existed such a complete mutuality of interests between our two countries there must be a corresponding confidence and reciprocity.
- These warnings will serve for little beyond inducing Nazis more carefully to cover their movements.
The Minister barely touched upon suspended staff talks but acknowledged wisdom of my having urged that either he or Minister of War and I be present.
He raised no question about my conversation with Minister of War scheduled for September 16.
He expressed the President’s and his own gratification with my understanding of Colombian nature, without which there already would have been serious difficulties. The United States with its vastly superior size and power could force agreements by coercion; instead we proceeded on entirely reciprocal basis and always with respect for rights of others. He said I gave impression not so much of representing the United States alone as of being intermediary to smooth the way for both countries.
I thanked him and seized this opening as I had a similar one with the President September 11, to say while I was first of all my country’s representative my second interest was always Colombia’s well-being. In that spirit I hoped he and his colleagues did not feel it presumptuous when I at times thought it my duty frankly to make suggestions which appeared to me beneficial to his country. I added there were influential groups in the United States who alleged that good neighbor policy was a one-way street where we gave all and received little or nothing. Therefore, I had emphasized both publicly and privately during my recent trip home that Colombia had already treated the good neighbor policy as a two-way street and I was confident she would continue so to do.[Page 82]
I have deemed it advisable discreetly thus to impress upon the Colombians the necessity for reciprocity since particularly because of their economic distress appeals are going to be made for our assistance and while we should give it insofar as possible, we should not fail to obtain appropriate and fair quid pro quos in several directions.