313. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Colombia 1

954. Our first objective in Colombia is to prevent overthrow of constitutional government especially if there is a chance that golpe may result which would bring to top undesirable extremist elements on either side.2

Our second objective is to get government to institute necessary reforms and adopt such other measures as necessary to assure its longer term stability.

As between these two objectives it is obvious we must choose the first if the situation requires it. We undersand from all of your reports however that the situation in Colombia does not require us to make such a choice at this time. On the contrary we understand that GOC has taken advantage of current demonstrations for the purpose of imposing a state of siege which will permit it to institute the measures necessary to achieve economic and political stability. We also understand from your messages that government is now in firm control of situation with support of police and military and that government is moving as swiftly as it can to adopt needed reform measures. We on our side are also prepared to move swiftly to complement Colombian action.

If there are any moves which the United States Government can make to assist the GOC in present political crisis, you should not hesitate to recommend them.3 Moreover if for any reason you do not [Page 684]believe our position outlined Deptel 949 is adequate, you should not hesitate to say so.4

If pressure for furnishing military contribution to IAF in Dominican Republic substantially contributes to present political crisis, you may indicate to GOC US would hope contribution can be made but we will not press if this the case.

Rusk
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL COL. Secret; Immediate; Limdis. Drafted by Sayre, cleared by Palmer and Eaton, and approved by Sayre.
  2. On May 21 Valencia declared a state of siege in response to violent student demonstrations against U.S. intervention in the Dominican Republic. In a May 21 memorandum to Mann, Vaughn reported: “This action should place the GOC in a stronger position for taking effective action in maintaining public security and resolving its continuing economic problems.” (Ibid., ARA Files, 1965–67: Lot 70 D 295, Colombia, 1965)
  3. Oliver forwarded a preliminary reply in which he reported that the Colombian Government was, in fact, reluctant to use the state of siege as a means to institute fiscal reforms. (Telegram 1473 from Bogotá, May 24; ibid., Central Files 1964–66, DEF 6 IA)
  4. Telegram 949 to Bogotá, May 21, reported on international efforts to stabilize Colombia’s finances, particularly as a result of the recent mission of Gerald M. Alter, director of the Western Hemisphere Department, World Bank. After two meetings with World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and Department of State officials, Alter was instructed to return to Bogotá with joint conditions for extending emergency financial assistance to Colombia. The conditions stipulated that the Valencia administration impose a 4.5 peso per dollar payment tax for the remainder of its term. (Ibid., FN 16 COL) The Embassy considered the overall strategy “excellent,” although it advised against authorizing Alter to speak on behalf of the U.S. Government. (Telegram 1463 from Bogotá, May 22; ibid., E 1 BRAZ)