Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. Livingston Satterthwaite of the Division of the American Republics
Dr. Escalante9 informed Mr. Berle10 that his Government in studying the Lend-Lease requirements of Venezuela had come to the conclusion that a large expenditure of money for purely military purposes was unjustified and not warranted, particularly since the construction of a ring of bases from Trinidad to the Panama Canal reduced to almost nothing the probability of the success of an attack on Venezuelan shores by a foreign power. Escalante went on to say that the economic strengthening and development of Venezuela would be its best contribution to hemisphere defense.
He inquired, therefore, whether the United States Government could assist Venezuela in developing the projects described below in place of and under the same terms as military equipment under Lend-Lease. The projects the Venezuelan Government has in mind are the following:
- Construction of roads, particularly in eastern Venezuela and a few in western Venezuela toward the Colombian frontier. The roads in eastern Venezuela would be designed to extend the network connecting the various oil fields in that region.
- Dredging the mouth of the Orinoco River so that deep draft vessels could at all times call at river ports. At present, the navigable mouth silts up rapidly, frequently delaying traffic and preventing the use of the river by large ships.
- The construction of new aviation fields and improvement and enlargement of some already in existence. Some of these fields would eventually form a part of a direct air system across Venezuela and through Brazil.
- Deepen and canalize the upper regions of the Orinoco River and tributaries to connect with the Meta River system.
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