The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Venezuela (Corrigan)
98. You are authorized to approach either President Medina or the Foreign Minister2 and state that this Government, having given earnest consideration to the requirements of Venezuelan coast defense, is willing to make the following offer to the Venezuelan Government provided a request in writing is received stating that that Government has learned of the availability of the material specified below and of its utility for coast defense purposes:
- At an early date there will be despatched to Venezuela one complete battery consisting of four 155 mm. mobile coast defense guns with 300 rounds of ammunition per gun, the necessary fire control equipment, miscellaneous transportation and supplies. The personnel of this battery consisting of 11 officers and 268 enlisted men will accompany the guns. The efficient handling of these guns requires an integrated military setup including battery headquarters, gun and ammunition squads, searchlight platoon, medical detachment, fire control detail including isolated observation posts, communication and maintenance squads, et cetera. The salaries and other expenses of these troops will be met by the War Department.
- The personnel mentioned above will remain in Venezuela for a period of at least 4 months for the purpose of training Venezuelan personnel and of caring for the equipment. At the end of that period [Page 736] it will be withdrawn if, in the opinion of the Venezuelan Government, the Venezuelan personnel is ready to take over the operation and maintenance of the guns. In addition to the 300 rounds of ammunition per gun specified above, there will be provided sufficient ammunition for the training of Venezuelan detachments.
- At the end of the training period the equipment will be turned over to the Venezuelan Government under Lease-Lend arrangements if an agreement has been signed.
- The Venezuelan Government will be expected to commit itself to assemble a detachment or unit of appropriate size and qualifications for training purposes to be available during the 4-months’ period mentioned above. The United States and Venezuelan military personnel will use the weapons and equipment jointly during the 4-months’ period of instruction. The necessary arrangements will be agreed to by the senior United States and Venezuelan officers officially delegated for the purpose.
- The following points should be also agreed upon:
- Any indemnities or damages occasioned by the installation, movement, or use in Venezuela of this equipment will be for the account of the Venezuelan Government.
- Customs duties or fees or charges will not be applicable to articles of any description brought into Venezuela for use under this plan.
- The United States Army personnel arriving or departing from Venezuela under this plan will be exempt from customs and immigration formalities.
- Jurisdiction and administrative command over United States military personnel entering Venezuela under this plan will be exercised by the senior United States Army officer present.
- The Venezuelan Government will take all other necessary steps to facilitate the operation of the plan; they will provide all requisite facilities for protection, housing, unloading, transportation, installation, movement and storage.
- While the Government of Venezuela will, of course, wish to make the final decision as to the most appropriate location of this equipment the suggestion is advanced that at least, initially, two of the guns be placed at Puerto la Cruz and the other two at Las Piedras. Final decision on this point should be reached immediately if the offer is to be accepted in order to facilitate despatch of equipment.
Please place this matter personally and confidentially before either President Medina or the Foreign Minister. If you receive an affirmative reply as to the program, you will state that the early signing of the basic lend-lease agreement by the Venezuelan Government would greatly facilitate the delivery of the material, should the Venezuelan Government desire to acquire it under the provisions of the Lend-Lease Act.3 Otherwise it would be necessary to follow a less convenient procedure and one which would be less advantageous from the Venezuelan point of view.[Page 737]
In handling this matter the emphasis should be on secrecy and speed.