The Venezuelan Ambassador (Escalante) to the Secretary of State

No. 757

Sir: As Your Excellency knows, the undersigned has made a number of oral representations to the Department of State for the purpose of calling attention to the anxiety of the Government of Venezuela with respect to the contemplated unilateral action of the Government of the United States in defense of Curaçao and Aruba, in apparent forgetfulness of the agreement between the two Governments that they would act jointly if any danger threatened there during the present emergency period—an understanding which was initiated in conversations [Page 74] held during the middle of July 1940 between Under Secretary of State Welles and the Ambassador of Venezuela and which was orally confirmed to the latter by the said Mr. Welles on December 24, 1941.32

The undersigned transmitted to his Government the oral explanations given him by Mr. Berle, Assistant Secretary of State, with regard to the imminence of North American action in Curaçao and Aruba and to the reasons which rendered it necessary; and on Mr. Welles’ return from Rio de Janeiro, the Ambassador had an interview with him in which he reiterated the Venezuelan Government’s point of view. As a consequence of the said interview, Mr. Welles informed Dr. Escalante on the 5th instant that he had held a conversation with His Excellency E. N. van Kleffens, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, at the time in Washington, the result of which could be summed up in the following points:

The Government of the Netherlands was disposed to agree that, in the present emergency in Curaçao and Aruba, an agreement should be effected between the United States, the Netherlands and Venezuela, similar, to that concluded between the Governments of the two first mentioned countries and Brazil at the time of the occupation of Surinam by North American troops.
The Netherlands Government agreed that officials of the Government of Venezuela, either military or civilian and numbering two, three, four or five, should go to Curaçao and Aruba during the emergency period, not to reside there temporarily, but going on periodic visits, for the purpose of exchanging with the Netherlands authorities data which might be considered useful for the defense of that area.
The Government of the Netherlands, in turn, required the Government of Venezuela to agree to periodic visits to Caracas of one or more Netherland officials, for the same purpose.

Mr. Welles further informed Dr. Escalante that the Government of the United States agreed with the foregoing and that, if acceptable to the Government of Venezuela, the corresponding instructions would be duly transmitted to Ambassador Corrigan at Caracas.

On the very day of my interview with Mr. Welles, I had another interview, with His Excellency Mr. van, Kleffens, who assured me that he agreed with the terms of the proposed understanding, as set forth above, adding that he would immediately request of Queen Wilhelmina’s Government the necessary authorization to conclude the arrangement and that, if the aforesaid basic points were also accept by the Venezuelan Government, he, Mr. van Kleffens, would give instructions to the Netherlands Minister in Caracas to treat with the Government of Venezuela.

Under date of the 9th instant, Mr. van Kleffens advised me that he had received authorization from his Government to conclude the agreement [Page 75] and that, when he had been informed of the acceptance of the Government at Caracas, he would transmit the necessary instructions to the Netherlands Minister in Venezuela and, furthermore, that he had requested his Legation in Rio de Janeiro to forward to Mr. Methöfer, Netherlands Minister in Venezuela, the complete text of any documents exchanged between the Government of Brazil and the Netherlands Government in order that Mr. Methöfer might use them as a model.

I now have the honor to write to Your Excellency to advise you that, my Government having been apprised of all the foregoing, it has authorized me to inform Your Excellency and His Excellency Mr. van Kleffens that it finds the bases of agreement, as set forth above, satisfactory. The Government of Venezuela urges that when publicity is given to the measures contemplated in Curaçao and Aruba, it be stated categorically that they are being effected in agreement with Venezuela and with the cooperation of that country, in the same way as was done in mentioning the cooperation of Brazil in the case of Surinam.

While having the pleasure of informing Your Excellency of the foregoing, I venture to hope that Ambassador Corrigan will be given the necessary instructions to carry forward the agreement with my Government and that the Government of the United States will be good enough to inform the Government of Venezuela—as the Netherlands Government will do—of the terms of the arrangement in the case of Surinam.

I avail myself [etc.]

Diogenes Escalante
  1. No record of these conversations found in Department files.