The Acting Secretary of State to the Secretary of Defense ( Lovett )

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Dear Mr. Secretary: I have received your letter of October 31, 19511 informing the Department of State that you approve a recommendation of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that programs be initiated, in conformity with Section 401 of the Mutual Security Act of 1951, to furnish military grant-aid in support of forces to be provided by certain Latin American countries which you listed.2 As you requested, the Department of State has reviewed from the political viewpoint the list of countries recommended by the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The Department of State concurs in seeking the President’s approval for the initiation of programs of military grant aid with the countries listed in your letter, but suggests, for reasons set forth below, that Venezuela be added, tentatively, to the list.

With regard to negotiations which may be carried on with these countries, however, this Department would like to make the following further recommendations:

In conformity with your suggestion regarding Argentina,3 negotiations with that country should be delayed until a more appropriate time, and the matter should be kept under constant review. Should the political situation in that country continue to preclude initiation of these negotiations, the Department agrees with your further suggestion that the funds tentatively allocated to that country in this year’s program should be reallocated in adequate time to insure that they will not remain unobligated at the end of the fiscal year.
Unless there are overriding military considerations to the contrary, negotiations initiated with Ecuador should include the opportunity [Page 1028] for the country to prepare unite of two Services rather than the one Service now contemplated by Ecuador’s inclusion in the first priority Air Force list. It is this Department’s view that, because of the tense political situation existing between Peru and Ecuador, an approach to the former involving possible assistance to all three of its Armed Services without a more nearly comparable approach to Ecuador than that indicated, would not only provoke resentment in Ecuador but might adversely affect the possibility of obtaining Ecuador’s agreement to afford this Government base rights in the Galapagos Islands, which the Joint Chiefs of Staff have indicated to be a requirement in the event of global war.
In view of recent indications of Brazil’s increased desire to cooperate in hemisphere defense, the Department of State recommends strongly that Brazil be given high priority in such reallocation of funds as may be required as a result of failure of one or more of the other Governments to qualify for inclusion in this year’s program. The traditional ties of U.S.–Brazilian friendship and cooperation, as well as the progress made in negotiations recently carried on with General Goes Monteiro, make it highly desirable that the total allocation to Brazil be the maximum feasible.

I understand that Venezuela was not included in the list to receive military grant-aid because of indications at the recent Panama Staff Talks of that country’s readiness to pay for equipment to meet its military requirements.4 While agreeing on the desirability that Venezuela pay its own way militarily, the Department of State believes that we should obtain more concrete evidence that the attitude then displayed represents a firm governmental position. It is therefore recommended that Venezuela be included tentatively in the list submitted to the President, pending verification at the earliest possible time of that Government’s views. Because of the importance to our national security of insuring the defense and continued flow of Venezuela’s strategic materials, we should be in a position to assist that country in accomplishing this task should it become necessary.

As soon as the President’s approval is obtained and I am so informed, this Department will be ready to issue instructions to our Diplomatic Missions in the countries to be approached, with a view to ascertaining whether the Governments of such countries are willing to enter upon negotiations for the conclusion of the necessary agreements.

Sincerely yours,

James E. Webb.
  1. Not printed.
  2. These countries were Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, and Uruguay.
  3. For additional documentation concerning the inclusion of Argentina in the military grant aid program for Latin America, see pp. 1079 ff.
  4. For additional documentation concerning the possible inclusion of Venezuela in the military grant aid program for Latin America, see pp. 1623 ff.