810.20 Defense/2706: Telegram

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

687. Department’s No. 591, May 20, 8 p.m. When I informed President this afternoon of my conversation with Minister Restrepo on May 5th I inquired whether Restrepo’s statement was purely personal or whether it represented opinion of the President.

Without directly answering my question the President said that “of course” our Army or Navy forces may enter Colombian waters at any time in pursuit of enemy craft. The only exception he made was that in the event of submarines entering Colombian harbors such as Cartagena where the craft could be immobilized by Colombian forces we would not follow into port. He emphasized he wishes to give us every possible facility to take action against the enemy not only in our interest but in interest of Colombia as well.

President Santos said he would prefer to have no written agreement as diplomatic instruments are often susceptible to misinterpretation on the part of functionaries. He said he considered that a gentleman’s agreement now exists between United States, that we have permission in event of an emergency to send our forces into Colombian territorial waters.

I replied that in my opinion a gentleman’s agreement would be preferable to a written agreement but inquired whether this would be binding on his successor. Santos said López18 will follow Santos’ international policies. He suggested, however, that prior to López’ assumption of office the three of us should confer so as to bind all personal arrangements now existing between Santos and this Embassy.

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From my conversation I consider the arrangements approved by Department’s No. 591, May 20, 8 p.m., now to be in effect.

Repeated to Panama for the information of General Andrews.

  1. Alfonso López was elected on May 3, 1942, to succeed Santos as President of Colombia; he took office on August 7.