Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State (White)

The Colombian Minister, Mr. Lozano, called and discussed the relations between Colombia and Peru with reference to the recent attack by about 300 Peruvians on the Colombian town of Leticia on the Amazon. He told me that a recent note received by the Colombian Minister in Lima from the Peruvian Government stated that the Leticia incident had arisen in an unexpected form and spoke of the Peruvian intention to try to calm the situation created by the national aspirations regarding the Peru-Colombian frontier. The Minister stated that the Peruvian Government apparently believed that it should not combat but try to modify the national aspirations contrary to solemn public treaties, approved, ratified, and, until the last of [Page 276] August, complied with by Peru. This is the attitude which Peru has taken regarding the acts of piracy and assault in Leticia.

The Minister stated that he had received a cable from President Olaya in which the latter said that Colombia demands only the loyal and frank respect of treaties and declares that its relations with Peru are based on treaties which bind the two countries and that as regards the pending matter Colombia demands complete control of the Colombian authorities in all the national territory.

The Minister said that Colombia was very gratified at the attitude the United States had taken in this matter and the help that we had given through our Ambassador in Lima. The Colombian Government now thought that it would be helpful, however, if the Secretary would talk with the Peruvian Ambassador regarding this violation of the treaty.

I told the Minister that I did not think he could count on our doing anything else for them in Peru. We have made our position clear and we are glad to do this. However our action in the matter had at first been considerably resented by President Sanchez Cerro and I doubted whether it would really help the situation from the Colombian point of view should we take the matter up further along that line. I said that of course Ambassador Freyre is a very reasonable man and I saw no objection to discussing the matter with him. The Minister said that even though President Sanchez Cerro might have appeared annoyed at our taking an interest in the matter, nevertheless our interest had helped the situation immensely because it showed the Peruvians that their action was being watched and made them more careful. He said that he had great admiration for Mr. Freyre also but that it would be necessary to speak pretty frankly with him in order to have him make any worthwhile representations to his own Government as he always minimizes a situation and for that reason he hoped that we would make our representations to him as strong as possible.

F[rancis] W[hite]