Memorandum of Conversation, by the Military Attaché in Venezuela ( Shaw )2

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Ambassador Warren and Col. Shaw had an audience with Col. Marcos Perez Jiménez 3 this morning from 11:30 a.m. until 12:10 p.m. The Ambassador had requested the audience for the purpose of discussing with the Minister (1) certain points concerning military aid to Latin American countries under the terms of the Mutual Security Act4 and (2) the continuation of military planning talks between the Ministry of Defense and General Morris5 headquarters in the Canal Zone.

The Ambassador began the conversation with an explanation to the Minister that a recent United States law authorized the granting of military aid to Latin American countries at United States expense in order to further western hemisphere defense. Venezuela has not been included in this program because the law is aimed primarily at arming those Latin American countries which cannot afford to arm themselves. Since Venezuela has a splendid record of wishing to pay cash for all arms assistance that she may receive, it is hoped that Venezuela will understand why she is omitted from the current list of countries to receive free arms aid and will continue to be willing to pay in the future as she has been in the past. It was also brought out that Venezuela’s desire to pay for whatever she needs had been of assistance in obtaining the Mutual Security Act.

Colonel Perez Jiménez seemed to accept without hesitation the idea that Venezuela will continue to pay her own way, then entered upon rather warm remarks to the effect that although Venezuela is willing to [Page 1588] pay and wants to pay, she has been unable to receive any of the arms that she has sought to buy from the U.S. He referred to the destroyers which Venezuela had wanted to buy from the United States but had been unable to procure even though Chile and Peru received destroyers. The Ambassador replied that he was very familiar with the negotiations for and the sale of naval equipment to Latin American countries and made it clear to the Minister that no request to purchase ships had been received from Venezuela while he was in the Department and that all countries making requests had been treated equally.

The Minister then turned to a general discussion of the army weapons and equipment that have been requested by Venezuela and talked at considerable length detailing the specific equipment and arms that Venezuela wanted and always coming back to the point that Venezuela was having very little success in obtaining the items. He referred to the military planning talks which took place in General Morris’ headquarters in March 19516 and stated since that time Venezuela—although its army wants have been made known since late 1950—had not received one item of equipment. It had received some replacement parts for F–47 aircraft and that was all.

The Ambassador then asked Colonel Shaw if he wished to make any remarks to the Minister in this matter. Col. Shaw stated that according to his understanding from State Department correspondence addressed to the Ambassador plus talking to Department of the Army officials, the United States was willing to proceed with the sale to Venezuela of practically everything on the list with the exception of tanks which are not currently available because tank production is going to our United States forces and to European nations under NATO. So far as tanks are concerned, Col. Shaw stated that the United States has never refused to sell these to Venezuela, but has stated repeatedly that the tanks will not be ready for some two years and as a substitution proposed an armored car for almost immediate delivery but with Venezuela, however, not being willing to accept the armored car as a substitute for tanks. Col. Shaw further stated that it is currently his understanding that within the past few months four (4) contracts of sale have been offered to Venezuela by Department of the Army and that no word has been received from Venezuela as to whether or not it accepts the contracts.

The Minister of Defense then replied that Venezuela does not want to pay full price for the articles at the time of signing the contract but wishes the advantage of some form of percentage payments (referring to the matter which was taken up by this Embassy in November 1951 when Col. Moreno 7 informed the Army Attaché that the Minister was [Page 1589] not agreeable to further military planning talks until the United States had agreed upon some form of installment payments). The Ambassador then stated that it was his understanding that the Venezuela Foreign Office had instructed its Washington Embassy to discuss payments with the State Department. The Minister hesitated somewhat upon hearing this remark and then upon recovering himself stated that about two weeks ago the Foreign Office had notified its Washington Embassy that it would not concur in the method of payment as outlined by the State Department (in advice to this Embassy).

The Ambassador then stated to the Minister that he personally and the Army Attaché considered the matter of the arms purchase to be so important that they stood ready at all times to do everything possible to clear the matter up, to resolve misunderstandings, and to speed the sale and receipt of the desired equipment. He asked if the Minister could furnish the Embassy with a list of all material which has been requested by Venezuela and which has not been received. The Minister agreed to do this and stated he would get his staff to work upon the list immediately.

The Ambassador then asked the Minister about the possibility of resuming the military planning talks in the near future and the Minister replied that he hoped to give us an answer on that soon after discussing it with his Chief of Staff. The audience terminated at this point.

The audience was conducted in a friendly atmosphere but was none the less very frank on both sides. It should be remarked that at the opening of the conversation, the Minister spoke rather passionately as if Venezuela has not received equal treatment with other Latin American countries. Certainly, while the thought was not specifically expressed, he left no doubt that he was not happy in this thought. At the end of the conference after hearing the Ambassador and Col. Shaw, the Minister seemed more subdued as if he had begun to realize that perhaps not all the delay in the purchase of military equipment lies with the United States.

L[awrence] E. S[haw]
  1. Transmitted to the Department of State under cover of despatch 1182, from Caracas, dated Feb. 1, 1952, not printed (731.5/2–152).
  2. Member of the Venezuelan Government Junta and Minister of Defense.
  3. Reference is to the Mutual Security Act of 1951 (Public Law 165), approved Oct. 10, 1951; for text, see 65 Stat. 373.
  4. Lt. Gen. William H. H. Morris, Jr., USA, Commander in Chief, Caribbean.
  5. For the results of planning talks between the Chiefs of Staff of the Armed Forces of Venezuela and the U.S. Commander in Chief, Caribbean, at Quarry Heights, Canal Zone, Mar. 19–23, 1951, see Foreign Relations, 1951, vol. ii, pp. 16261633.
  6. Félix Román Moreno, Chief of Staff, Venezuelan Armed Forces.