The Ambassador in Paraguay ( Beaulac ) to the Secretary of State
[Received October 1.]
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The Department, in its telegram no. 123 of March 24, 6 p.m., asked whether the Paraguayan Government was willing to give assurance that two Beechcraft planes being acquired by Paraguay under lend-lease would be used only for military purposes. The Embassy obtained Major Stagni’s agreement to this effect. A copy of a letter from the Commercial Attaché to Major Stagni, embodying this agreement is enclosed.19 This letter was never acknowledged in writing.
Despite this agreement, the two Beechcrafts are occasionally, not regularly, used to carry passengers for pay. This circumstance has only recently come to the Embassy’s attention. No representation has been made to the Paraguayan Government pending a study of the whole situation as regards the use of lend-lease planes by Latn.
I do not hesitate to say that the operation of all the lend-lease planes in Paraguay for purely military purposes would be contrary to our interests. The operation of these planes for military pilot training, and, at the same time, for the carriage of mail and passengers is not contrary to our interests. In saying this I do not refer, of course, to Major Stagni’s ambitious plans to inaugurate an international service, which I reported in my telegram no. 471 of September 11, 5 p.m. and to which I presented possible objections. I refer to the kind of commercial service now being conducted by Latn.
For my part I should like to see a majority of the lend-lease trucks, for example, furnished to Paraguay put to work building roads, and doing other useful work not of a directly military character. The Embassy’s Military Attaché20 has just returned from a visit to Concepcion where he found more than half the garrison there employed [Page 1287] in road building. This force was without trucks. It was working with hand tools and bull carts. The cavalry regiment, near Asunción, however, engaged in purely military, and therefore, unproductive work, and whose presence here has more political than military importance, is well supplied with trucks. From the viewpoint of national defense, of course, the building of new highways is vastly more important than the maintenance, in style, of the cavalry garrison near Asunción.
It may be argued, similarly that the operation by the Paraguayan Government of an airline, permitting pilot training at the same time, contributes more to national defense than allowing their planes to sit idle because Paraguay cannot afford to operate them.
Since the date of the Department’s telegram no. 123, the war has ended, and our attitude toward the use to which these lend-lease planes are to be put would seem to depend on whether, as a matter of policy, we are determined, henceforth, to follow with care the use to which every plane, truck, tire, pick, and shovel is to be put and object when these instruments or of any of them, are put to uses which are not strictly or technically military. I presume also, that our attitude in this matter, as far as concerns Paraguay, will be related to our general attitude.
A case can be made, of course, for our closing our eyes to the specific use to which lend-lease supplies are put, so long, perhaps, as they are not transferred to third governments or to private persons.
The truth is that the comparatively large number (for Paraguay) of lend-lease planes furnished to Paraguay, without consultation with the Embassy, so far as I can ascertain, except in the case of the two Beechcrafts, cannot be maintained in operation by the Paraguayan Air Force without some kind of subvention or without the expenditure of sums of money so large as to be burdensome to the budget of this small country and harmful to its economy and therefore, to its national defense and to our interests in Paraguay.
These planes were furnished to Paraguay during the war emergency, and the purpose for which they were furnished has been accomplished. We have had substantial and increasing cooperation from this government in measures aimed at continental defense. We are hoping for and expecting additional cooperation, and it is not in our interest to place purely technical obstacles in the way of obtaining such cooperation.
My own very serious inclination is to let the Paraguayan Air Force go ahead and use lend-lease planes in the operation of its airline. I believe that that is in the interest of the United States.
I shall appreciate the Department’s comment in the matter.