723.2515/1947: Telegram

The Ambassador in Peru ( Poindexter ) to the Secretary of State


10. Your 12, February 16, 6 p.m., slightly garbled in transmission, being corrected. On yesterday by appointment I accompanied Mr. George Duval, head of the New York commercial house of Wessel, Duval and Company having establishments in Peru and Chile and which has been in business on this coast for 100 years, to see President Leguía on a visit of courtesy. Mr. Duval and President Leguía [Page 305] exchanged quite an extended friendly and more or less intimate conversation. President Leguía asked Mr. Duval how he found business in Peru. Mr. Duval replied that business at this time in Peru was slack. At this point I stated that Mr. Duval had informed me that he was of the opinion that business in Peru would be greatly improved if the Tacna-Arica question were settled. President Leguía seemed quite interested; and Mr. Duval at some length confirmed my statement, pointing out the abundance of capital now accumulated in the United States, the increasing interest in South American trade and the encouraging agricultural riches of Peru, but that he had found in talking with New York capitalists hesitation in making investments in Chile or Peru at the present time on account of the uncertainty as to the stability of government aroused by the bitterness of the controversy over Tacna and Arica, and Duval stated that if this question could be settled by some kind of a peaceable compromise a great impetus would be given to American investment in the two countries. The President immediately responded that that would not be acceptable; that the Tacna-Arica question was a matter of sentiment with Peru. He added that as the Peruvians looked upon the provinces as captive Peruvian provinces and as Chile had not complied in good faith with the terms of the Treaty of Ancón, the bitterness of feeling in Peru over the question could be ended only by the restoration of the provinces to Peru. Duval at this point asked the President how such a disposition would put a stop to the bitter feeling in Chile. The President stated that he did not know but that if the provinces should be restored to Peru good feeling and friendly relations could at once be reestablished between Peru and Chile insofar as Peru was concerned.

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