740.0011 European War 1939/32166: Telegram

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

2213. I saw Minister for Foreign Affairs this afternoon in connection with Department’s 1481, December 2, 11 [8] p.m. Dr. Lozano said that he would see President Echandía at once and would call me as soon as he had had discussion with him. He asked me, however, to emphasize to Department that Colombian Government does not wish to take precipitate action especially in view of the absence of President Roosevelt from Washington17 and that he would like to give careful consideration to the drafting of the note to the Department expressing desire of Colombia to adhere to the Declaration of the United Nations.

The Minister said that prior to confirmation by the President of the views of the Colombian Government the official opinion is that belligerency and a state of war are synonymous terms but that Colombia wishes to make one distinction: It considers itself to be in a defensive and not in an offensive state of war. In other words, he continued, Colombia is not going to send troops to a second front in Europe or to any other part of the world. He illustrated the difference between an offensive and a defensive war by comparing a personal duel, as recognized in certain countries, to an attack on a private individual peacefully walking in the street. A duel would not be legally justifiable in Colombia but a private citizen would be justified under [Page 9] Colombian law to defend himself from a criminal attack. Colombia now considers itself to be in the position of the private citizen attacked without justification.

  1. The President was absent from Washington from November 11 to December 17 to attend wartime conferences at Cairo and Tehran. For documentation relating to these conferences, see Foreign Relations, The Conferences at Cairo and Tehran, 1943.