740.0011 European War 1939/32058: Telegram

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

2144. After expressing my satisfaction to Acting President Echandia7 today regarding the approval which the Senate had given the Government’s expression of policy I inquired whether he could explain as an acknowledged constitutional expert what the constitutional significance is of the Senate’s action.

The President said at first he wished to emphasize why the Government did not suggest to the Senate a declaration of war. He said that such a declaration would mean the enactment of martial law and suspension of constitutional guarantees and as it had been explained in Congress last evening, such action was not even taken in the United States when we went to war. On the other hand, the Foreign Minister’s [Page 3] declaration and the Senate’s approval amount to a declaration of a state of belligerency against the Axis. He said that this would bring about much closer relationships between Colombia and those countries which had declared war against the Axis and was exactly similar to the action taken by Brazil. Dr. Echandía said that it would bring about much closer cooperation with the United States and he hoped that an early meeting might take place between Colombian and United States military and naval authorities with the view of determining what steps Colombia could take in the common cause.

I referred to the agreement reached in September 19428 by which Colombia granted certain military privileges to the United States and asked how these provisions would be affected by this latest development. Echandía said that privileges which had previously been granted can now be amplified.

I inquired what would be the status of enemy nationals in Colombia, some of whom we might wish to have questioned and interned in the United States. The President said that the situation with regard to these persons is now greatly simplified and even though the Government might not feel that it could take steps without congressional approval, such approval is already impliedly granted by the Senate resolution of last night. He said that the important point in the Senate resolution is that it promises to grant to the Government any steps which the Government may feel necessary to take not only to repress enemy activities here but also those of a military nature.

He said that he wished to call on me constantly now for advice and assistance and I naturally placed myself at his services.

On leaving I inquired of the President whether his Government had contemplated adhering to the Atlantic Charter.9 He replied vigorously “Yes we wish to become one of the United Nations”. He said that steps to this end would be taken very shortly.

I have an appointment with Foreign Minister at 4 p.m.

  1. Darío Echandía served as Acting President when President López was in the United States from November 19, 1943, to May 16, 1944.
  2. For correspondence on the military cooperation between the United States and Colombia, see Foreign Relations, 1942, vol. vi, pp. 141 ff.
  3. Ibid., 1941, vol. i, p. 367. For text of the Declaration of the United Nations (incorporating the Atlantic Charter), see ibid., 1942, vol. i, p. 25. Notification of Colombia’s adherence to the Declaration was given on December 22, 1943, and the signature of its representative was attached on January 17, 1944.