740.00112A European War, 1939/3616: Telegram

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

409. Your 544, November 10, 5 p.m.34 I am very disturbed by the action taken by the Colombian Senate and believe it would be desirable for you to seek an immediate interview with the President to discuss the matter.

At your interview with the President please tell him that the President and I have always considered him as one of those who understood most clearly the issues involved in the present struggle to resist the ruthless spread of totalitarian aggression. Indeed, no greater support [Page 304] of inter-American solidarity has been forthcoming from any country than that given by Colombia during his administration.

It is precisely because of the President’s outstanding service in defense of the ideals for which this hemisphere has stood that I take the liberty of bringing to his attention the disruptive effects which unquestionably will result if the report of the Colombian Senate is submitted to the chancelleries of the other American republics. I hasten to express this judgment to you without having taken the time to study fully the reasons given in the report for the action taken and without precise knowledge as to the discretion which the Executive may exercise under the Colombian Constitution. It appears to me certain, however, that the submission of this report adopted by the Senate of Colombia will be accepted by the other American republics as the considered judgment of the Colombian Government. If information available here is correct, the Senate did not have the guidance or advice of the President of Colombia nor did the President of Colombia attempt in any way to influence the deliberations of the Senate. It therefore appears that the report represents the views not of the Government but only of one house of the Colombian Congress. In the second place, it is already obvious that the totalitarian governments are going to employ the report as a proof of their insistent view that the American republics are opposed to the Proclaimed List established by this Government. Formal submission of the report by the Colombian Government to the other American republics will give additional ammunition to the Axis because the act of submission will be made to appear as an endeavor on the part of the Colombian Government to line up against this Government’s policy the other American countries.

At this very critical juncture in the world crisis the unity of the twenty-one American republics in opposing the ruthless aggression of the totalitarian nations is indispensable to the very safety and security of each one of the other American republics. The totalitarian forces are working day and night attempting to find a crack in the structure of inter-American solidarity. It would, therefore, be most unfortunate were an opening gratuitously to be afforded to those who would like to destroy us.

It is, therefore, very earnestly hoped that the President will find it possible within his constitutional powers to withhold circulation of the report to the other American countries.

The adoption of this report by the Colombian Senate has come as an abrupt surprise to the Department, which, although aware of the views of certain Senators, did not think they were shared by the majority of the Senate. As you know, the Interdepartmental Committee, which handles Proclaimed List matters, has always been ready [Page 305] to consider any objections which the Colombian Government might have had to the Proclaimed List.

Please keep the Department fully posted by telegram.

  1. Not printed; in this telegram the Ambassador summarized a recently published Colombian Senate report which was extremely critical of the objectives and preparation of the Proclaimed List. The Senate Committee intended that the report should be transmitted to the “Chancelleries of the American Republics”. (740.00112A European War, 1939/3616). A Senate resolution approved the report. In telegram No. 554, November 13, 11 p.m., from the Ambassador in Colombia (not printed) he reported that (1) an interview with President Eduardo Santos would have to await the latter’s return to the city on November 17; (2) according to competent legal opinion the Senate resolution was unconstitutional; (3) after consultation with some of his diplomatic colleagues, he was inclined to agree with Foreign Minister Luis Lopez de Mesa, who felt that the resolution would receive only passing notice elsewhere (740.00112A European War, 1939/3709).