856B.20/33a: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Venezuela ( Corrigan )

55 bis. You are requested to seek an immediate audience with President Medina to inform him confidentially of the following. You should tell him that Ambassador Escalante, with whom Mr. Welles has previously discussed this matter, is being informed today in the same sense, and that the Under Secretary has furnished the background to Dr. Parra-Pérez19 at Rio de Janeiro:

In accordance with the frank and friendly relations which exist between our two Governments and their association in the war against Axis aggression, you have been instructed to inform President Medina of the discussions which have been in progress between the United States and Netherlands Governments. The United States has agreed to assist in the protection of the vital oil refineries in Curaçao and Aruba which, owing to the unceasing demands on the valiant Netherlands forces in the Far East, the Netherlands Government finds it difficult to garrison in sufficient strength to assure the absolute security of these installations. The United States Government, fully sharing the view of the Venezuelan Government as expressed in a note of July 3, 1940 addressed to me by the Venezuelan Ambassador20 that these refineries are an indispensable complement to the Venezuelan oil industry, and recognizing the critical importance to the United Nations’ war effort of the oil in question, has agreed at the invitation of the Netherlands Government to send a contingent of its armed forces to [Page 60] those places. The United States forces will be under the general supervision of the Netherlands Civil Governor and will be withdrawn upon the termination of the emergency.

The United States has taken this step as a belligerent to meet a very real danger, a danger which has made it imperative to act with the greatest secrecy and urgency. Both in acceding to the Netherlands, request for assistance and throughout the discussions, this Government has kept before the Netherlands Government the legitimate interest of the Venezuelan Government in this matter. This Government has expressed to the Netherlands Government the firm belief that the precedent followed in the case of Brazil in connection with the defense measures which were taken in Surinam is fully applicable to this case. However, the factors of time, secrecy and speed may render it essential to take defense measures prior to the final clarification of Venezuelan participation. It is the Department’s confident belief that President Medina will appreciate these circumstances, as well as the very great necessity for secrecy.

Dispositions required by these circumstances would be, in any event, without prejudice to the position of Venezuela in the discussions.

(Repeated to Amdelgat, Rio for Undersecretary.)

  1. Caracciolo Parra-Pérez, Venezuelan Minister for Foreign Affairs, attending meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs at Rio de Janeiro.
  2. Foreign Relations, 1940, vol. v, p. 210.