810.20 Defense/1300: Telegram

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

349. For Duggan. My telegram No. 341, August 9, midnight. The President summoned me this afternoon and with the Minister of War present, assured me that early next week he would give me a detailed list of all military requirements for an army of 20,000, which they believe is the number necessary. The principal items which they wish to cover under the Lend-Lease Act are:

Aviation equipment. What they now have is so antiquated that at any time they may be unable to put any planes in the air.
Two small coast guard cutters of about 400 tons to service coastal garrisons.
Repair of Colombia’s two destroyers (please see my personal letter to you dated August 6, 194147).
Shall require other general equipment including a few cannons.

[Page 25]

The President said “a sine qua non to the entire transaction” was that they obtain some free funds, in particular for uniforms, construction of barracks, and for military road connecting Quibdó with Bahai, Solano [Bahía Solano?] and Puerto Utria. He said that the uniforms and barracks are especially necessary since it was discovered in recent plot that one of appeals made to non-commissioned officers and troops was inadequacy thereof. The President desires that Colombia be committed to repay free funds which might be loaned dollar for dollar at usual rate of interest and not under liberal terms of Lend-Lease Act. He again stressed that with afore-described assistance both he and his successor could guarantee us internal order throughout Colombia and that no attack on Panama Canal by subversive elements would be attempted from this country.

He said equipment acquired under the Lend-Lease Act plus free funds would total less than the $16,200,000 contemplated in the Department’s proposal. He hoped I would carefully study both equipment and free fund requirements; any questions I might have would be fully answered and he earnestly requested that as soon as I was completely satisfied, I assist them to obtain their needs in Washington.

I assured Santos and his Minister that Military and Naval Attachés and I after carefully going over list would make recommendations to Washington and assist him in every appropriate way. But that obtaining free [funds] as I had before stated in my opinion would be extremely difficult and in particular I did not believe any loan could be made wherewith to purchase second-hand Mausers from Brazil. To this latter statement the Minister of War replied that they could not get rifle ammunition from the United States and the army was now “practically without any rounds”.

  1. Not printed.