Memorandum by the Acting Assistant Chief, Division of North and West Coast Affairs ( Woodward ), to the Acting Director, Office of American Republic Affairs ( Armour )

On July 27, the Colombian Ambassador presented an official memorandum37 to the Department requesting 5,000 rifles for the Colombian Army. The President of Colombia had some weeks before indicated an interest in obtaining 5,000 rifles for the Colombian National Police in order to promote stability within Colombia, the implication being that he had some doubt concerning the loyalty of the Army; Ambassador Lane indicated some apprehension, which Mr. Keith shared, that the provision of 5,000 rifles to the National Police might encourage internal competition between the National Police and the Army. Mr. Keith thought that the request for 5,000 rifles for the Army might be a method of obtaining the 5,000 rifles which the President of Colombia wanted for the Police—the Army being specified as the receiving agency because that would permit delivery of the rifles through the regular Lend-Lease channels.

Several weeks ago, Ambassador Lane was requested to give his views concerning this matter. He has now indicated, in the last paragraph of the attached telegram,38 that he believes the 5,000 rifles would be used to promote Colombian internal stability and that failure of the Colombian Government to maintain such stability would react adversely to our interests. This now appears to be a recommendation that the 5,000 rifles be provided to the Colombian Government, for disposition to the Army or the National Police as it may see fit. (The standard form of Lend-Lease agreement which was signed with the Colombian Government provides for the delivery of materiel to the Colombian Government as such and not to any particular agency. Mr. Duggan39 has pointed out in a memorandum40 which he prepared shortly before his departure from the Department that one of the original purposes of Lend-Lease for the other American Republics was to assist in maintaining internal stability during the war period.)

Mr. McGurk41 and Mr. Woodward have now discussed this matter and have agreed in the view that it would now be desirable to recommend that the 5,000 rifles be provided to the Colombian Government. The War Department indicated several weeks ago that these rifles [Page 817] could be obtained if they were considered necessary by the Department of State. It would be appreciated if Ambassador Armour would indicate whether he approves the view in which Mr. McGurk and Mr. Woodward have agreed.42

Robert F. Woodward
  1. Memorandum of July 27, 1944, not printed.
  2. Telegram 1537, September 6, 8 p.m., supra.
  3. Laurence Duggan, formerly Director, Office of American Republic Affairs.
  4. Memorandum of July 18, 1944, not printed.
  5. Joseph F. McGurk, Acting Deputy Director, Office of American Republic Affairs.
  6. Mr. Armour noted on the margin: “I agree that the rifles should go along.”