The Chief of the Division of North and West Coast Affairs (Flack) to the Ambassador in Venezuela (Corrigan)
Dear Mr. Ambassador: I duly received your letter of March 2028 yesterday and have forwarded the personal enclosure therewith, as you requested.
I was informed that Major Calderón29 called yesterday to see the Economic Officer of this Division in company with Colonel Marcano, Venezuelan Air Attaché, and the Chargé, Falcon-Briceño, After discussing quartermaster equipment they said they wanted some additional military planes and Marcano remarked that the eight which had been allotted to them on March 12, of which you were informed by telegraph and of which you approved when you were here, were not enough to occupy their men and they felt that they were equipped to service and fly a considerably larger number. I believe sixty of all types was the number mentioned. While admitting that the Staff Conversations were preliminary and exploratory, they gave the distinct impression that if we could not supply the planes they felt they needed, they would purchase them elsewhere. We did not argue with them on that point, but I feel that such a large number would not be so desirable from any point of view.
Accordingly, may I suggest that you confer with the Military Air Attaché and the Chief of the Air Mission for the purpose of formulating your present views on the needs of Venezuela (which they can handle) within the limitation of the proposed interim allocation, since I do not believe we could go beyond that for any of the countries concerned without some difficulty, but if that question arose it would, of course, be studied. If we do not adopt some procedure which would free us from a charge of discrimination, I am inclined to think that the new Ambassador may, when he presents his credentials, put considerable pressure on the Department. Incidently, Dr. Machado arrived early yesterday morning and will probably present his credentials in a week or ten days.[Page 1315]
For your convenient reference I recapitulate here the figures of the interim allocation for Venezuela opposite the recommendations made by Whitfield in his talk to me.
Of the number Venezuela was informed that they would receive were 3 C–47’s instead of 10 and 5 AT–11’s.
I have noted that there has been some favorable news coming out of Venezuela which includes issuance of a so-called Bill of Rights amounting to the guarantee of certain civil liberties prior to the elections, plus the setting up of an electoral procedure envisaging the choosing of a constituent assembly. While I am in complete agreement with you that they have in some respects been very free with the exercise of Decree power in the absence of a direct public electoral mandate, the situation may have progressed sufficiently since you were here to justify consideration of approval of Venezuela’s “interim” quota of planes, as recapitulated above. I bring this up now for I foresee that we shall have to ask you officially in a few days about your present opinion and I think it would be desirable for you to consider this in the light of Marcano’s knowledge of what was contemplated, regardless of how that information may have been conveyed to him, and the general affect on our relations, both political and petroleum of a policy which, unless I am mistaken, they will soon discern to be unfavorably discriminatory in the supply of tactical planes. I hear that the P–47’s are really difficult to learn to fly and there might be no real harm in giving them these as well as some B–25’s which Colombia has if this would embellish their pride.
In addition to that, I feel that I should stress that in the light of developments in the Russian situation it would be extremely unwise for us to risk irritating the Venezuelan Government to the point where they might take an unfriendly position with regard to our oil companies. I feel that this plays a decisively important role in the present consideration of interim allocation and I have other reasons to feel that you would approve. I would regret very much to see any action taken adverse to our companies arriving from an unfriendly view [Page 1316] which may ensue in the younger military coterie in the Government. I feel that I should express these views to you personally at this time for your consideration in formulating your opinion.
I shall endeavor to take steps to secure a copy of Thornburg’s memorandum on his views of the Eastern situation after he returns from there later in the spring.
Bill and Betty Wright had dinner with us last night and they will soon be on their way to Canton.
With kindest remembrances to you all.