File No. 823.5048/75.
The American Consul at Iquitos to the Secretary of State.
Iquitos, Peru , July 16, 1912.
Sir: I have the honor to report that this afternoon I was waited on by the secretary of the prefecture, who presented me with a photograph which is inclosed, and an unsigned memorandum, a copy of which, with translation, is inclosed as well.
This indicates to me that the prefect, having heard from Lima, and been told to give me all the information that he can, has seized on the opportunity offered by the arrival of a launch from the Putumayo bringing some prisoners (who, by a happy coincidence, are Colombians).
The case particularly mentioned in the memorandum may be taken to indicate activity on the part of the Peruvian military posts up near the border, well beyond the scene of the Peruvian Amazon Co.’s atrocities disclosed hitherto; in other words, the discovery of fresh atrocities in a new field of action.
The secretary stated that information against this gang was lodged with Lieut. Col. Castro by an Indian woman; that he sent out Capt. Alvarez and three soldiers disguised as caucheros (rubber hunters) to find and arrest them; that in revenge the woman was starved to death by Ordonez and his accomplices. The Yubineto or Jueveneto, near which this crime occurred, is an affluent of the Putumayo, joining the latter just beyond the extreme limit of the Peruvian Amazon Co.’s sphere of action. The actual scene of the crime is stated to be two days’ journey from the River Yubineto.
Finding the secretary disposed to talk on the subject, I learned from him that while the headquarters of the comisario of the Putumayo are at La Chorrera, he is supposed to travel continuously throughout his district. He confirmed my understanding that there are only two officials representing the civil government in the whole region; but, according to his statement, the garrisons are more numerous than I had believed. He stated that in the whole Putumayo Basin there are 10 garrisons which were primarily stationed in the district to guard the frontier, but which have recently been instructed also to hunt out and prevent crimes against the Indians. The locations of these garrisons he stated to be as follows, adding that they were not in any way regarded as military secrets:
In the Peruvian-Amazon Co.’s sphere: Chorrera, Encanto, Union, and Puerto Militario Peruano.
On Brazilian boundary: Tarapaca.
On Colombian border: Pto. Delicias and Pto de los Monos.
Interior but not in Peruvian-Amazon Territory: Molino and mouth Rio Jueveneto (2).
The department can locate these points if desired on the map which accompanied Sir Roger Casement’s confidential report. The secretary could give me no definite idea of the number of troops represented by the garrisons listed, but stated that they are all under the command of Lieut. Col. Castro, one of the best officers of the Peruvian army and who was educated at St. Cyr in France. This gentleman [Page 1261] has been well spoken of in Iquitos as an intelligent and active officer, as has also Capt. Alvarez, who made the capture.
In considering the case mentioned in the memorandum, one should not lose sight of the fact that it is entirely separate and apart from the Peruvian-Amazon Co. and the district which has hitherto been under discussion and was dealt with in the Casement reports, and constitutes evidence of maltreatment of the Indians more widespread than has hitherto been admitted. If desired, it would be comparatively easy to make these border Colombians the scapegoat for the Peruvian-Amazon criminals, and in their cases the local government would not be so much troubled by expensive appeals to the supreme court at Lima.
The great emphasis laid on the fact that the persons arrested were Colombians leads me to believe it possible that Sir Roger Casement’s remarks regarding the better government given the region by Colombia may be known in Lima, particularly as the secretary plainly endeavored in the conversation to make me believe that the Colombians had never treated the Indians well and were really responsible for the outrages, that had attracted so much attention. There may be, too, some idea that the United States contemplates interfering in the Colombian-Peruvian-Ecuadorian boundary question.
This information reached me only a few hours before the mail closed. The secretary stated that he was also to call on the British Consul to present a copy of the memorandum and a photograph.
I have [etc.],