Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. Bainbridge C. Davis of the Division of North and West Coast Affairs

Participants: Mr. Braden
Ambassador Corrigan
Mr. Briggs (ARA)
Mr. Butler (ARA)
Mr. Wright (A–Br)
Mr. Duran (A–Br)
Mr. Flack (NWC)
Mr. Davis (NWC)
Mr. Dreier (RL)

The meeting similar to that with other Chiefs of Mission was called by Mr. Braden17 for the purpose of consultation with Ambassador Corrigan18 regarding matters of interest with respect to our relations in Venezuela.

The following subjects of concern in our relations with all of the American republics, were discussed:

Military Cooperation and Proposed Interim Shipments of Arms: Mr. Braden asked for Dr. Corrigan’s comments with respect to the proposed interim shipments. Dr. Corrigan replied that in the first place, the staff conversations in Venezuela did not in his opinion constitute commitments; secondly, that shipment of arms and military aircraft to the other American republics is a major influence in strengthening the particular government which is in control in each country; and thirdly, that he was sure that the War Department would not wish to make these decisions where they might be tantamount to formulating the foreign policy of the United States with respect to certain countries. The Ambassador indicated that he felt that the State Department should take a firm stand in these matters. Mr. Braden explained to the Ambassador the developments which had taken place and the manner in which we had been forced into the present position against our wishes and judgment. It was then pointed out to Dr. Corrigan that tactical aircraft would be sent to Venezuela in accordance with General Arnold’s19 wishes unless (1) he, the Ambassador, disapproved or (2) the Venezuelans did not want the equipment offered them.

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Mr. Davis asked whether the Venezuelans, after wrecking some of their bombers and fighters (if they received them), would not be able to obtain replacements in the U.S. on the ground that we had indicated our approval of a Venezuelan airforce of that size (thereby vitiating General Arnold’s argument that these planes would only last the other American republics six months). Mr. Braden replied that we would not entertain any such claim, and would not consider ourselves bound by implied commitments of any sort.

Dr. Corrigan urged that we make every effort to supply the quartermaster equipment requested by the Venezuelan army as many of these items are urgently needed to improve the living conditions of the soldiers. Likewise, he asked that conclusion of the contract for a military ground mission for Venezuela be expedited. Mr. Braden informed Mr. Davis that he and Mr. Briggs would be glad to lend their strong support to any efforts to expedite favorable action on these two matters.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

  1. Spruille Braden, Assistant Secretary of State for American Republic Affairs.
  2. The Ambassador returned to the United States on December 30, 1945; he resumed his duties in Venezuela on March 11, 1946.
  3. Gen. Henry H. Arnold, Commanding General, Army Air Forces.