831.001 Gallegos, Rómulo/2–749

President Truman to the Former President of Venezuela (Gallegos)

My Dear Friend: I have been sincerely moved by your letter of December fifteenth.1 The overthrow of the Government over which you presided came as a great shock to me, and I have personally concerned myself with this question from the beginning.

I am happy you have accepted the sincere statements issued by our Department of State2 regarding the non-participation in the coup d’état of American interests or of officials of this Government, and I wish to reiterate these assurances to you personally at this time. It was considerate of you to make public your acceptance of these explanation.

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I believe that the use of force to effect political change is not only deplorable but also inconsistent with the ideals of the American peoples. The Government of the United States intends to do everything possible, consistent with its international obligations to strengthen democratic forces in this hemisphere.

This concern has been brought to the attention of the Governments of the other American Republics and their advice solicited in determining what steps can properly be taken to encourage democratic and constitutional procedures in the Americas. A number of constructive replies have been received. In order that the position of this Government should be made clear to people both in this country and in the other American nations, as already had been done with their Governments, a statement on this subject was made public on December 21, 1948.3

In your letter you suggested that the recognition of the present de facto Government of Venezuela by the United States would undo the work of the Good Neighbor Policy and would constitute acquiescence in the violation of right by force.

The possibility of withholding recognition was very carefully considered from all points of view, and it was my opinion and that of my advisers that it was not the course best adapted to achieve the ends which you and I both heartily desire. Since the administration of President Jefferson it had been the general policy of this Government, with certain exceptions, to maintain diplomatic relations with whatever Government held control of the administrative machinery of any state, provided it was both able and willing to carry out its international obligations and gave reasonable evidence of stability. It has not been and is not now the intention of this Government to pass judgment upon the internal arrangements of other Governments. We do not intend that resumption of relations with any particular American Republic should be taken as such a judgment. This principle met with wide acceptance among the other Republics of the hemisphere and was incorporated in a resolution unanimously adopted by all the American States at the Ninth Inter-American Conference at Bogotá in 1948.4

This Government, furthermore, is of the opinion that nonrecognition is seldom, if ever, effective in bringing about the broader aim of strengthening democratic governments. I feel that the United States can make its influence in favor of democratic procedures felt more effectively if diplomatic relations can be maintained with all the governments of the hemisphere. The American Republics probably can [Page 799]work together most effectively for hemisphere solidarity if they utilize, among other means, the continuing interchange made possible through normal diplomatic channels.

I have mentioned only a few of the reasons which led to the conclusion that it would be best for the United States to resume diplomatic relations with Venezuela. Instructions were issued to our Ambassador in Caracas to take the necessary steps on January 21.5 We did not intend by this step to imply approval of the means by which that Government came into existence. I wish to assure you that we will continue searching for ways and means by which we can contribute to the strengthening of democratic institutions which, I firmly believe, embody the aspirations of the peoples of Latin America just as surely as they do those of the people of the United States.

I realize, of course, that our action in extending recognition to the Junta of Government in Venezuela may have come as a disappointment to you, and I am sorry that this is so. I want to assure you, however, of my continuing friendship and admiration for you and of my desire to act always in the best interests of the Western Hemisphere.

Sincerely yours,

Harry S. Truman
  1. Not printed, but see the summary contained in telegram 810, December 18, 1948, from Habana, in Foreign Relations, 1948, vol. ix, p. 149.
  2. For the Department’s statement of December 10 with regard to this issue, see telegram 511, ibid., p. 143.
  3. Text in Department of State Bulletin, January 2, 1949, p. 30.
  4. Reference is to Resolution XXXV of that Conference; text in Foreign Relations, 1948, vol. ix, p. 98.
  5. See telegram 12, January 13, 1949, to Caracas, Foreign Relations, 1948, vol. ix, p. 151.