856B.20/74

The Venezuelan Ambassador ( Escalante ) to the Secretary of State

Memorandum
[Translation]
No. 478

Referring to the interview which the Ambassador of Venezuela had four days ago with the Honorable Adolf A. Berle, Jr., Assistant Secretary of State, relative to the action contemplated to preserve the security of the Dutch islands of Curaçao and Aruba, the Ambassador [Page 63] of Venezuela has received instructions from his Government to advise His Excellency the Secretary of State as follows:

The Ambassador of the United States of America in Caracas had, on the 26th instant, an interview with the President of the Republic, General Medina, and communicated to him in confidence instructions received from the Department of State with regard to the negotiations between the American and Dutch Governments respecting the dispatch of a contingent of American armed forces to Curaçao and Aruba, in order to protect the oil refineries on the two islands.

According to the Department of State, the dispatch of the said contingent was agreed upon at the request of the Government of Holland; that the forces of occupation will be under the general authority of the Dutch Civil Governor and will be withdrawn at the conclusion of the emergency; and that the United States has taken this measure as a belligerent country in order to meet real dangers which oblige them to proceed with the greatest secrecy and haste.

The Venezuelan Government observes in this connection that Venezuela has vital political and economic interests, deriving especially from its geographical position and the oil industry, in the fate which may befall Curaçao and Aruba. So the Department of State was informed on various occasions, especially in July, 1940,24 through the medium of the Ambassador, Dr. Escalante. For this reason the Government of Venezuela considers that any measure relative to the defense, protection and administration of those colonies must be discussed and adopted in concurrence with Venezuela, giving the latter the opportunity to intervene, whether in the form provided for in the Act of Habana, or through an understanding between the parties.

The telegram from the Department of State for the American Ambassador,25 communicated by the latter to the President of the Republic, states that neither in consenting to the request formulated by Holland nor in its discussions with the Dutch Government has the American Government at any time disregarded the legitimate interest of Venezuela in this matter; that the precedent in the case of Brazil with regard to the measures of defense adopted in Surinam is entirely applicable to the present case; but that, nevertheless, factors of time, secrecy, and speed may require measures of defense before Venezuelan participation is finally clarified.

General Medina, President of the Republic, considers incompatible with the interests of the country the unilateral adoption of the measure announced by the American Government, without the participation of Venezuela; and, as a result, has issued instructions to the Ambassador, [Page 64] Dr. Escalante, to advise the Department of State of the suitability of a prior and formal agreement of the two Governments, to the end that Venezuela may have, in the case of Curaçao and Aruba, the same participation as Brazil in the case of Surinam, and for the adoption of the procedure of establishing a coordinating mission to exchange information and to concert upon the other measures of security which must be taken jointly by Venezuela, the United States, and the Netherlands.

This agreement is indispensable, both to protect the position of Venezuela, clearly defined in previous conversations and discussions on the matter, and for the defense of its legitimate interests.

  1. See note of July 3, Foreign Relations, 1940, vol. v, p. 210.
  2. Telegram No. 55 bis, January 24, 9 p.m., p. 59.