Memorandum by the Secretary of State
The Peruvian Ambassador called today to give me the names of the members of the new Government. He had with him papers which had come from them. He told me he knew only two of them personally but these were responsible men.
He then said that these men asked him to bring up the question of recognition by this country. He said that prompt recognition by us would be very helpful toward stabilization of the situation. This is, of course, a mere skeleton outline of the points he made. He spoke frankly and with every appearance of fairmindedness. He went into quite a long explanation of the reasons for the rebellion against Leguia, how he had incurred the hostility of many people by banishment, and how, though there was no charge against his personal honesty, there was an impression, growing partly out of hard times when everybody else was poor, that members of his Government had profited out of public affairs. He apologized for coming to see me when I was not here officially.
I told him that I was very glad he had come, that of course we were very anxious and troubled over the situation in Peru, that in the first place I wanted to assure him that contrary to certain reports in the press (and I specified the report in the Times which I had heard of but not yet seen) that this Government had no intention of meddling in the internal affairs of Peru. Since, however, he had opened the question of recognition I thought it proper to say that in considering the question of the recognition of a de facto government under the rules of international law and its capacity to protect life and property, we [Page 732] necessarily would be obliged to pay attention to the way in which they showed themselves capable of protecting the deposed members of the last Government from being made the victims of private revenge and persecution or mob violence. I said that in common with the people of my country I had followed with great satisfaction and pleasure the development of stable institutions in South America; that we felt that as an evidence of this that changes of government in South America were no longer followed, as had been common half a century ago, by political executions; that we regarded this as distinct evidence of stability and development of their political institution and that if in this case in Peru the overthrow of the foregoing Government should unhappily be followed by bloodshed and violence against the former government, it would make a profoundly unfavorable impression in this country and would bear very weightily on the question of the responsibility of the Government which sought recognition. I pointed out that this was only one of the many considerations which would have to be considered but that it would be a very potent one and therefore I hoped that no bloodshed or violence would be permitted against Leguia or any of his associates.
He replied that he did not think there was any danger of the taking of life. He could not say so much on the question of property, that there were these charges of corruptly applied wealth and that when a people were as poor as Peru was in the present depression, the sight of members of the government “wallowing in wealth” might induce them to seek to recover such funds by judicial procedure.
I said that was a wholly different question and was an internal question for Peru. I then said that apropos of what he had said about the criticisms made of Leguia that we here had had brought to our notice more sharply the good things which Leguia had done rather than the evil ones which he was charged with doing. I told the Ambassador of my connections several years ago with the Tacna-Arica problem4 when he himself was the representative of Peru there and told him that I had in that way become familiar with the Tacna-Arica settlement and with Leguia’s part in that settlement and that I had formed a very good opinion of Leguia’s conduct in that matter.
He rejoined by saying that that settlement, while it had been criticised by some of the Peruvian people, was generally accepted as a good settlement which nobody now wanted to upset and which they all now were glad had been made.
I called in Mr. Castle after I had been over this with the Ambassador, telling the Ambassador I was going away and Castle would be in charge and recited all of the foregoing matters to him in the Ambassador’s presence so that there would be no misunderstanding.