823.00 Revolutions/14: Telegram

The Chargé in Peru (Mayer) to the Secretary of State

153. My telegram No. 149, August 25th. Disorder in Lima increased yesterday afternoon spreading to Miraflores where a few houses were sacked. When I went down town from the Embassy yesterday afternoon to ask special protection for the National City Bank the crowds were in a very nasty mood. Martial law began to be enforced late in the afternoon and quite a number of rioters were shot. This finally had a quieting influence in the early evening, since when there does not appear to have been any disorder.

The junta seems to be getting more organized and claims that all the five army districts of Peru have adhered to it, this being inclusive of Arequipa which early in the afternoon had been reported as antagonistic to the Lima group. Although no disorder reported this morning large groups are still collected in various places. Will report later on inspection of the state of affairs in the city after diplomatic corps meeting this morning.

The President’s brother Augusto and wife and Mrs. Juan Leguia are at the Chilean Embassy which is close to us. The two Embassies are being guarded by large cavalry patrols.

Captain Spears of the Naval Mission, who was aboard the Almirante Grau, came over last evening and delivered me a message from Mr. Leguia. The latter wishes to inform me that when he resigned early [Page 725] Monday morning it was to a constitutionally appointed Cabinet which could legally continue the Constitutional Government on acceptance of his resignation which was properly addressed to the Congress. Until Congress accepted, Leguia was President. It was for that reason that he had hoisted the Presidential flag on the Grau and asserted his authority as described in my 152, August 25, 10 p.m.3 Mr. Leguia wished me to know that he had no desire to return to power being motivated by hope of maintenance of a Constitutional Government in Peru which could continue to be recognized by the United States and receive its support.

Meanwhile the junta has dissolved the Congress which therefore could not accept the President’s resignation. The junta’s attitude is that President Leguia resigned and went aboard the Grau as “de tenido” and by the grace of the junta in order that his life might be saved. They dissolved the Parliament because it was composed of “yes men” and not capable of giving expression to real national sentiment.

These conflicting attitudes are most unfortunate from a point of view of stabilizing the situation. It is generally believed that the President has no chance whatsoever of returning as some feel is the motive behind his present activity on the Grau, or of imposing his technical desires regarding constitutionality.

According to Captain Spears the officers of the Grau were to a man behind the President and have sworn to support him to the end, although Spears feels they are now weakening and likely in the end to go over to junta.

The junta has just issued a decree giving the Grau 48 hours to submit to the new regime.

  1. Not printed.