810.20 Defense/3072: Airgram

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

A–25. With reference to Mr. Keith’s telegram No. 956 of July 21, 4 p.m.,22 regarding the request received through Brigadier General H. C. Ingles, Chief of Staff, Headquarters Caribbean Defense Command, for the establishment of an emergency operating base for Navy PBY airplanes in the vicinity of Cartagena, Colombia, I have the honor to state that this project was discussed by me with Lieutenant General F. M. Andrews, Rear Admiral Van Hook, and Ambassador Wilson in Balboa on July 28, 1942. Admiral Van Hook explained the need for such a base in order to lessen the distance of flights of planes making reconnaissance surveys in that part of the Caribbean traversed by convoys, as well as the detailed needs which would be requested of the Colombian Government for the operation of this base.

On my arrival in Bogotá I discussed the matter in general terms with President Santos on July 29, stating that we are not yet prepared to make the request for the base, but that I wished him to know of our intentions.

This morning in a conversation with the Minister of Foreign Relations on other subjects, I adverted to our desire for such a base, pointing [Page 157] out that it would be to the advantage of Colombia for us to take the most adequate steps possible to disrupt Axis submarine activities in the Caribbean. As I had previously spoken to Dr. López de Mesa regarding the shipping situation, which is to be made the subject of an interpellation in Congress this afternoon, I pointed out the importance to Colombian economy that this base be established.

In speaking to President Santos and to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, I expressly did not refer to the project as the establishment of a “base” but stated that we merely wished to have the privilege of facilities for landing and servicing our planes including permission to maintain sufficient personnel, supplies, radio station, and other necessary equipment. I pointed out that all expenses in connection with the establishment of the proposed installation would be borne by the United States Government.

As agreed upon with the Department and with President-elect López, no direct request of the Colombian Government for the establishment of the foregoing base will be made until after the inauguration of Dr. López.

A copy of this airgram has been forwarded to Panama for the information of General Andrews.

  1. Not printed.