The Ambassador in Colombia (Wiley) to the Secretary of State
[Received 11:32 a.m.]
68. Your No. 45, January 17, 8 p.m.17 I did not disclose anything about planes to anyone. General Arnold on seeing General Piedrahita, head of Colombian Air Force, showed him a list of planes which could be made available. After consideration General Piedrahita requested and was promised 42. Two PBY’s and three C–47’s, General Arnold explained, would be immediately available, others would come as soon as possible and, finally, in respect of one type substitution might be necessary. General Arnold did not mention price.
From his conversation with me I gathered the definite impression that General Arnold feels very strongly that the US must meet the reasonable requirements of Latin American Republics for military [Page 655] and naval aircraft and technical assistance. Otherwise they will in future turn to other countries. Moreover, General Arnold disapproves strongly of attempting formally to commit Latin American countries exclusively to purchase aviation equipment from US. He feels that the only tactful and feasible way of achieving this desirable end is, as stated above, to meet their reasonable requirements as rapidly as possible.…
As for disclosures made by General Arnold to Colombian Govt, he informed me that he had been authorized by the President and Assistant Secretary Braden to convey to Colombian Govt, types of 42 airplanes being allocated but method and time of delivery would be determined by Ambassador. He added that he had made it clear that he would under no circumstances have consented to come to South America empty-handed.
General Arnold’s visit to Bogotá was in every way a brilliant success. At all times he sought every means possible to contribute to prestige of Embassy.
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