The Acting Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Colombia ( Wiley )
A–93. Reference is made to your letter of January 25, 194651 to Mr. Stokely Morgan of the Department with which was enclosed a memorandum concerning possible nationalization of the airfields in Colombia, including that at Barranquilla, in which the United States [Page 668] Government has made substantial investments under the Airport Development Program.
The following facts regarding the Soledad Airport at Barranquilla are set forth for your background information. The field is the only one in Colombia built under the Airport Development Program, and the investment of the United States Government in the field is listed at approximately $650,000. Ownership of the field is vested in Avianca,52 in which airline Pan American World Airways owns a majority of the stock. The Civil Aeronautics Board has stated informally that full commercial rights will be desired in Soledad Airport and possibly in other Colombian airfields. For your confidential information the Joint Chiefs of Staff have recommended the inclusion of Soledad Airport in a system of hemisphere air bases which would be established by multilateral agreement and at which the United States (along with other American republics) would have transit rights in peacetime and full military rights in emergency. Plans for this air base system anticipate conclusion of the mutual assistance treaty contemplated by the Act of Chapultepec,53 and the establishment of a permanent inter-American military agency, so that no immediate action to realize this plan is possible.
In connection with the investment of United States funds under the Airport Development Program, your attention is called to the Department’s circular airgram of January 17, 2:30 p.m.,54 wherein it was stated that the Department was now in a position to declassify the Airport Development Program contracts or portions thereof at any time, should such action appear to be in the national interest.
In view of the sizeable investment of United States Government funds in Soledad Airport and of the desired civil and military rights indicated above, the Department would wish to inform the Colombian Government in confidence of that portion of the Airport Development Program pertaining to Soledad Airport if and when it appears that action by the Colombian Government to nationalize the airports in Colombia is imminent. None of the foregoing information should however be conveyed to the Colombian Government except upon specific authorization from the Department.
Please keep the Department informed of any further developments toward nationalization of the airports in Colombia, and of your recommendations with respect to informing the Government.