721.23/54: Telegram

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

160. Leticia, repeated to Bogotá. My 159, September 12, 9 p.m.3

Cabinet, President, Constituent Assembly are all giving close attention to Loreto situation and the new Foreign Minister is taking it up at once with the Diplomatic Commission of Assembly tomorrow.
In a conversation today President of the Diplomatic Commission, Dr. Manzanillo, informs me he thinks that our Government could greatly aid peaceful solution of the problem by influencing Colombia to receive proposals for the revision of the Salomon-Lozano treaty,4 meantime withholding efforts to reestablish itself at Leticia. I said that I could not imagine Colombia’s responding to any such suggestions in the way Peru desired.
Dr. Manzanillo declared that it will be impossible for the Peruvian Government to remain quiet while Colombia regains Leticia, as the whole of Loreto would go to the aid of the city and the administration would be unable to restrain them, since Peruvian public opinion condemns treaty and it would take from six to eight thousand men to dominate Loreto.
Manzanillo argued Colombia did not need and could not develop Leticia district, should consider Peruvian internal difficulties, be receptive to suggestions and be willing to enter upon discussions. I told him I thought Colombian Government would not consider such proposals and inquired whether the internal situation in Peru was really so dangerous that a public disavowal which would confine and minimize the importance of the incident could not be made.
Manzanillo replied incident was like Fiume, criticised circumstances under which treaty was made and said withdrawal of Peruvians from Leticia could not be thought of.
I told Manzanillo his ideas seemed to me impossible of realization but that I would be glad to have a written statement of his point of view, as our Government would be extremely anxious to understand Peruvian Government’s position. He promised to supply such a statement.
Assembly and the administration impress me as being busily engaged in making up a case which will justify independent action in case Colombia does not cooperate according to Peruvian ideas.
  1. Not printed.
  2. Between Colombia and Peru, signed March 24, 1922, League of Nations Treaty Series, vol. lxxiv, p. 9; see also Foreign Relations, 1923, vol. i, pp. 351 ff.