810.20 Defense/1182: Telegram

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

312. For Duggan. My telegram No. 304.42 President yesterday afternoon confirmed to me Minister of War’s statements and had me read Santos’ 6-page letter of June 20 to Turbay which emphasized the same points but also stressed that instead of undertaking large expense for purchase of Springfield rifles, adequate supply of Mausers could be bought from Brazil if we would supply financing therefor. Santos said Colonels Tamayo and Buenaventura had been told in Washington that funds for construction of military or quasi-military nature in Colombia would be available under a Lease-Lend loan providing work were done by American firms. However, he observed that American contractors performed work on such lavish scale as to make it too exorbitant. His impression was that those representing us in conversations with two Colonels were perhaps unfamiliar with conditions here and trying to make a blanket program for entire hemisphere which, by reason of varying conditions in each country, was impossible. He felt Colombia probably did not need and should not undertake so vast a program as was contemplated in Washington conversations and concluded by suggesting that since Turbay would arrive here next week conversations could be transferred from Washington to Bogotá to be uninfluenced by the President and myself.

I countered by telling him of recommendation last sentence of antepenultimate paragraph of my telegram under reference and suggested that once Colombian Chief of Staff and our Military Attaché had submitted their findings to him and me we could then, after reviewing them, forward them to Washington for final discussion.

While I am unfamiliar with program as [apparent omission] in Washington, I do feel that by restricting Colombian acquisition of equipment along general lines suggested on page 3 my despatch No. 1112 [1122], October 28, 1940,43 we will obtain from this country the maximum effective aid they will be able to render for some time to come in connection with Hemisphere and Canal defense. In fact, were this Government to be given certain amount of free funds (Santos once mentioned $1,000,000 to me but probably now has somewhat larger [Page 20] amount in mind) in addition to really necessary equipment to be purchased in the United States, the total loan probably could be kept considerably below $16,200,000. Even though a part of “free funds” were to be ill-spent, the net financial loss for us would not be as great as contemplated in plan outlined in Department’s telegram No. 188 of July 9, 9 p.m.

  1. Supra.
  2. Not printed. The suggestion was that United States aid should be limited to facilitating the following: purchase of training planes and ground equipment; improvement of airfields and the building of such new ones as considered desirable; the purchase of such other military equipment as is necessary to insure adequate protection of airports and other strategic points and maintenance of internal order; the purchase by Colombia of fast revenue cutters to maintain surveillance of its coastline, and such other naval equipment as recommended by the Chief of the United States Naval Mission. (821.51/2553)