810.20 Defense/514: Telegram
The Chargé in Venezuela (Scott) to the Secretary of State
[Received 10 p.m.]
8. For the Under Secretary. Your 8, January 19. This morning Dr. Gil Borges informed me that after laying the matter in complete confidence before the President the latter stated that skeleton companies could not be stationed in Venezuela without congressional legislation authorizing such a procedure. As an alternative the President suggested that the United States [might] store the bombs on a suitable ship stationed at or near the Isle de Aves about 60 miles east of Curaçao or the bombs might be stored on this island in custody of the Venezuelan garrison there.
In intimate conversation I was able to draw out from Gil Borges in strictest confidence the fact that the real reason back of the President’s reluctance was his conviction that the stationing of American troops or other custodians in Venezuela would have a very bad effect on the public opinion. The President stated that such a move could not be kept secret and would be immediately seized upon by the Germans or other hostile groups to create trouble. In this connection he referred to complications such as had occurred in Uruguay. Dr. Gil Borges added his opinion that the move would be premature at this time, but that were the United States at war much more far-reaching measures could be taken immediately and would be accepted by public opinion in all quarters. He terminated by expressing the President’s desire to cooperate with the United States in every possible way.