810.20 Defense/2103: Telegram

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

242. For the Acting Secretary. After discussing subject of your telegram No. 201, February 20, 3 p.m. with the President this morning he consulted with Ministers of Foreign Relations and War9 following which the latter informed me as follows:

As the President had stated to me, the Colombian Government is completely and wholeheartedly in agreement with your proposal.

Under Colombian constitution it is impossible for the President and Minister of War to delegate their powers as amply as they would like (i. e. give the liaison officer carte blanche) but they feel that all that we seek will be accomplished by the following:

General Pablo López, presently Assistant Chief of Staff, accompanied by one or two other officers will proceed to Panama by airplane during the coming week to serve as liaison and to cooperate in every way possible with General Andrews. To this end he will be appointed Military Attaché in Panama and will report directly to the President or Minister of War here.
He will be instructed to review with our military every possible contingency which may require: (a) unilateral action by the Colombian forces; (b) cooperation with our forces; or (c) a request for our military, naval or air forces to come into Colombia or its territorial waters. As rapidly as plans to meet these various contingencies are developed López will be given directives empowering him to take immediate action and in particular if need to request action or assistance by our forces. His directives will be so broadly phrased as to cover any contingency even though it had not been previously contemplated in his discussions with our military at Panama.
Simultaneously with the issue of directives to General López corresponding ones will be issued to several Colombian commanders located throughout the country so that in the event of any emergency they may give an immediate word by prearranged code from the [Page 147] liaison officer at Panama informing them that a particular directive or plan is being put into operation forthwith.
The General will take with him to Panama the outline of Colombian war and defense plans for discussion and comment by General Andrews.
López’ agreement to a given action or his request for our assistance will be definite. However, he will then radio the President or Minister of War and they will by return radio give their confirmation.
Army radio communication with zone is now being made in from 2 to 5 minutes but in order still further to facilitate it the Ministry of War will be put on a war basis with 24 hour service indicating a direct private telephone communication from the radio room to the President and Minister’s homes.
The Minister indicated that General López would be glad to accept the hospitality as indicated in the penultimate paragraph of your telegram.

In discussing the foregoing with the Minister of War I took the liberty of arranging that the liaison officer at a moment’s notice could agree to emergency action by our forces at any interior point such as the Llanos as well as along coastal areas or territorial waters.

  1. Luis López de Mesa and Gonzalo Restrepo, respectively.