740.00118 European War 1939/1080a: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Colombia (Braden)

198. Because of the potentialities of the Caribbean situation, the War Department desires to send officers at the earliest possible moment to Medellín, Barranquilla and Cúcuta to perform the functions of military observers as defined in the Department’s telegram no. 114 of January 30, 1942.6

In view of the attitude of President Santos concerning military and naval observers, as reported by you, the Department proposes [Page 143] that the Army officers sent to Medellín and Barranquilla be designated “Assistants to the Consul” at these two posts. They would not use their Army titles; would wear civilian dress; and would otherwise endeavor to avoid attracting attention as Army personnel.

To meet the known views of President Santos, the Department proposes to open a Consulate at Cúcuta at once and assign a career Foreign Service Officer there so that the Army officer concerned may also be designated “Assistant to the Consul”.

The Department recognizes that this arrangement may not be precisely what President Santos had in mind when he stated that there would be no objection to the establishment of whatever number of consulates this Government had need for. It is, however, not a feasible procedure for the officers of the War Department to be taken in to the Foreign Service. It is hoped, therefore, that the President, in view of the impossibility of attaining exactly what he wanted, will go along with the arrangement hereinbefore described.

You are requested to ascertain whether the foregoing proposals would be acceptable to the Colombian Government and to report to the Department by telegraph promptly as the matter is extremely urgent.

  1. Not printed; it stated that the status of the men was to be that of military observers and not secret agents.