Memorandum by the Chief, Division of North and West Coast Affairs (Heath)47
After reading Mr. Longyear’s memorandum48 attached, I am of the opinion that:
- We should not further press the matter of the Colombian request for 5,000 rifles for its police at this time.
- After a few days we should inform Ambassador Turbay orally that we have so far been unable to obtain the release of these rifles.
- Our Ambassador in Bogotá should be informed that we are unable at this time to obtain these rifles but that he should not run to inform the Foreign Office of the news but only mention that the question was brought up.
We are far from convinced here that the Colombian police have not sufficient arms to put down a civilian disturbance. We also believe that one reason for the Colombian request is to arm the police to withstand a military coup. We sympathize with their desire to maintain a stable civil government but we are not convinced that an extra stock of ordinary rifles would be sufficient against a well-organized military revolt.
If at this time we press the War Department to make an exception in this case we weaken our position of objecting when some of our military missions enthusiastically request unneeded extra armament for the armies of the countries where they are stationed (such as delivering bombers to Peru).