Memorandum of Conversation, by the Chief of the Division of North and West Coast Affairs (Wright)
Dr. Gómez Ruiz39 said that he was calling at the request of the Ambassador. He first wished to discuss with me informally and unofficially certain aspects of the President’s recent letter to President Medina concerning Venezuela’s status in the war. Then he wished to ask me an official question.[Page 1421]
Dr. Gómez Ruiz said that, with the Russians practically at the gates of Berlin and what to his Government seemed the imminent fall of that city, plus the other favorable aspects of the war, at this time Venezuela’s declaration of war on Germany would seem undignified and ridiculous. Had the declaration come, for instance, at the time of the German offensive in Belgium, the situation would have been otherwise, but now that the Germans seemed to be on the downhill pull, his Government feared that the action would lack in force and dignity. I explained to him why, in our opinion, the action would be entirely dignified and in no way lacking in force. Certainly it could not be considered ridiculous. Venezuela’s action would be a concrete contribution to the winning of the war and the moral force which would come from this action on the part of Venezuela and the other republics would have an important psychological effect. Our conversation on this subject was considerable and I believe that I satisfied him personally on the point.
Dr. Gómez Ruiz then asked his formal question. He said that, if his Government were to decide that it would be “ridiculous” to declare war on Germany, his Government wanted to know whether a declaration on Japan would be sufficient. I told him that, while for psychological reasons (given the situation of Venezuela on the East coast) it would be preferable for the action to be taken against Germany rather than Japan, according to the strict rules a declaration against Japan would suffice. He said that this was a point which his Government wanted to clarify and that he would inform the Ambassador accordingly.
I told Dr. Gómez Ruiz that I could not be more specific with him, but in strict confidence he might like to know that we had reports which indicated to us that two or three other countries might be moving forward rather rapidly in this matter and his Government might want to know this in confidence. He thanked me very much for this information which he indicated would be held strictly secret.
- First Secretary of the Venezuelan Embassy.↩