856B.20/38: Telegram

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

76. Your 63, January 29, 9 p.m. Please see President Medina immediately and inform him that as he knows this Government has at all times during the discussions constantly kept before the Netherlands Government the question of Venezuela’s participation and has delayed the sending of troops to Curaçao in deference to President Medina’s views. In the meantime however developments in the strategic situation, including the reported presence of a German submarine in the Gulf of Mexico, make imperative the very early despatch of protective forces to guard against a probable attack in the near future. You may assure President Medina that the President and I will continue to press for a formula of Venezuelan participation along the lines described by President Medina in your telegram under reference.

The President desires you to deliver to President Medina the following personal and confidential message from him: [Page 70]

“I know that you will understand that the measures to be taken to safeguard the refineries at Curaçao and Aruba are dictated by the highest military necessity. Curaçao and Aruba are not protected today, and their absolutely essential oil refineries might be destroyed tomorrow by enemy action. If the refineries were destroyed the shipment of Venezuelan oil would practically cease almost immediately with the most serious consequences to the successful conduct of the war. I have in mind in this connection the position of the Venezuelan Government which regards the refineries as the essential complement of the Venezuelan oil fields. Frankly however in view of the compelling necessity to complete the defense of the Caribbean area I cannot further delay the dispatch of our troops to those islands and therefore I am taking the sole responsibility for their immediate movement. I am confident that you, as a military man, will understand the exigencies of the situation, and the necessity for speed and secrecy.”

You may inform President Medina in conclusion that the President’s views along these lines were communicated at the President’s request to Ambassador Escalante on January 30, and that we propose to maintain the closest possible contact with the Venezuelan Government in this matter.