831.248/2–1446: Airgram

The Chargé in Venezuela (Dawson) to the Secretary of State


A–54. Reference Department’s telegram No. 71 February 8, 8 p.m., and Embassy’s telegram No. 110 February 14, 5 p.m.26 Embassy has learned that Lt. Col. Jorge Marcano, Venezuelan Air attaché in Washington, has furnished Venezuelan War Ministry with list of aircraft to be allocated to Venezuela which is indentical with that which Assistant Secretary Braden agreed with General Arnold to approve on January 8, 1946. This leak is of course extremely unfortunate. Chief of Air Mission says that its position here would become untenable unless substantially full original allocation is made available since Venezuelan reasons for desiring Mission are largely because it was hoped presence would ensure receipt of desired material.

Crucial point in this situation seems to be relative treatment accorded to Venezuela and to other American Republics to which military aircraft are being made available, i.e. those other than Argentina, Bolivia, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua and Paraguay (Mr. Braden’s letter of January 9, 194627 to Acting Secretary of War Royall). If all original allocations to such countries are being cut down or if they do not receive B–25’s or P–47’s, which Venezuela is now being denied, it should be possible to explain matters without too much rancor being aroused although disappointment will be intense.

However, if it is evident from the allocations that Venezuela is being placed in a category intermediate between countries named above, considered by Venezuelan Government to be dictatorships (with Haiti furthermore unrecognized), and other American Republics, situation will be difficult. Rather than just inform Venezuelan Embassy of allocation to Venezuela, feel strongly that in such case some explanation would be advisable. Only one that comes to mind would be that Venezuela is receiving separate treatment pending reestablishment of constitutional government after which consideration would be given to increased allocation.

This is, of course, matter for high policy determination of Department [Page 1313] but Embassy feels it would be remiss if it did not place these considerations before Department.

While present Venezuelan Government has taken steps adversely affecting American business interests its economic measures are result of nationalistic and soak-the-rich complex, not anti-Americanism per se. It feels these are popular demagogic steps of help to it in forthcoming elections at which illiterates will vote. Junta has been friendly to our international policies. There are lots of things wrong with the Junta including its slowness in reestablishing constitutional government but it is nonetheless a better and friendlier government than most in Latin America. For it to be singled out for treatment only little better than that of openly non-democratic governments would be unfortunate.

Embassy does feel that we should go slow in extending assistance to Venezuelan Government, as for example with new Ground Mission, until and unless it shows signs of treating American interests more fairly. Its actions in regard to cancellation of contracts of American engineering and construction firms and its general policy toward oil companies will furnish guide to this. Embassy in fact suggests that it might be instructed to point out to Betancourt and other Junta authorities discreetly in informal conversations that it is difficult for us to comply with requests for assistance when Junta is dealing summarily with American interests, that cooperation must be bilateral for it to be effective.

However, in case of aviation equipment, an already established line of cooperation through Air Mission is involved. Subject, of course, to major policy considerations of which it is not advised, Embassy feels that substantially equal treatment to that accorded to Colombia, for example, is advisable or at least assurance that this will be given when Venezuela has put its house in order. …

Sending of this has been delayed in view of expected arrival of Air Attaché from Washington which occurred February 20. Portion with which he is concerned has been discussed with him and he agrees.

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