The Ecuadoran Minister (Zaldumbide) to the Secretary of State


Mr. Secretary of State: By special instructions from the Ecuadorian Chancellery, I have the honor to place in Your Excellency’s own hands the declarations which, in the form of a Memorandum, my Government has thought it well to make upon considering, from the standpoint of the rights and interests of Ecuador in the Amazon region, the international situation created by the present Colombo-Peruvian dispute.

The said document reads as follows:


The difficulty which has arisen between Colombia and Peru concerns all America, with good reason. Ecuador, for very good reasons, can not remain indifferent, the very fact that such a conflict has arisen being sufficient to justify her attitude, without it being necessary to make an analysis of its cause or the arguments maintained on each side to proclaim the necessity of one settlement or the other.
The controversy which has arisen between the two countries concerns us deeply, because Ecuador has the deepest conviction that all republics of the American continent, and in particular, certain groups of countries situated close to each other and having special historical, ethnic and economic ties, such as Colombia, Ecuador and [Page 293] Peru, are called to a common destiny and as the greatest political and economic problems concern the three States to an equal extent and demand their mutual cooperation that they may be settled satisfactorily.
Furthermore, America is not unaware of the fact that Ecuador is and will be an Amazonian nation. Her geographic location, her numerous juridical rights, the imperative demands of her economic life and the requirements of her normal biological development, the right that every people has to a proportionate territory, and the indisputable fact that the Amazon forms the inland sea and the common outlet toward the East for the countries of this part of the New World make Ecuador’s right to be an Amazonian State, as she is and always has been, since the first colonial centuries, irrefutable and indisputable.
Moreover, Ecuador has not yet been able to settle in a friendly and equitable way, as she is eager to do, her difference as to frontiers in the territory of the Amazon.21 It is therefore evident that the present dispute between Colombia and Peru may affect her and, in any case, it concerns her vitally.
The peoples of America see with disquietude that Colombia and Peru are making preparations for war, in issuing loans intended for national defense, procuring arms, ammunition and other military supplies, and mobilizing their troops.
Ecuador trusts that the settlement of this difference will not be left to the arbitrament of war, for war generally does not settle in a sincere, complete and just way the problems which it is expected to settle thereby.
This principle is all the more evident as history, as well as the American tradition of international law and various recent public documents and international declarations, remind us that our peoples, having taken the right direction in the path that civilization apparently will follow, are convinced that settlements of the differences between countries are those which are secured by pacific and voluntary means which do not injure the vital interests or the juridical sentiment of the communities to which they are to be applied.
Therefore, Ecuador, inspired by a pacific ideal, desiring only amicable and equitable solutions of her foreign problems, has up to the present time devoted all her effort to development of her culture and peaceful domestic progress. It is for this reason that, as she stated to the League of Nations, in a note dated November 17, 1931, she now insists on declaring to the chancelleries of America, that until now she has desired to organize only an army indispensable for maintaining domestic peace. Nevertheless, a part of her territory being situated between Colombia and Peru, Ecuador, in the absurd case of a war, exercising her full sovereignty and independence, and being sure of her rights and as a state desirous of achieving her own destiny within the limits of international peace and dignity, is resolved to employ every effort and make every sacrifice to prevent the possibility that, at a given moment, her territories may be violated and her peaceful towns and fields exposed to the horror of war. The social [Page 294] and moral conscience of America could not tolerate such violation, which is contrary to the basic principles of justice, civilization and law.
If the controversy between Colombia and Peru is settled by pacific means, the settlement may have consequences which, directly or indirectly, may affect the juridical status or the de facto situation of Ecuador in the Amazon basin.
Moreover, Ecuador, having justice on her side, desires to solve her Amazon problem in a fitting manner, in the greatest harmony and under the egis of the fraternal sentiments which should inspire the American peoples; to assure in definitive fashion the peace and the international position of the Republic, and then direct all the efforts of her foreign policy to a many-sided, fruitful, intensive and ever greater cooperation with neighboring States.
It follows from this that both on account of the undeniable consequences that may develop for Ecuador from possible Colombo- Peruvian diplomatic negotiations, and on account of the desire cherished by the Republic to solve her own differences as soon as possible, she is interested in the present difficulty between the two friendly peoples referred to, and believes that she has the indisputable right not to suffer any prejudice in this connection, and to bring about the earnestly desired fraternal and definitive solution of her own boundary problem. This can not but interest the American continent, as undoubtedly the elimination of the Amazon problems will aid in strengthening peace, well-being and progress in the New World.

Quito, November 12, 1932.

The Minister of Foreign Relations

Will your Excellency be good enough to note and consider the justification for these declarations of the Ecuadorian Chancellery, which highly appreciates the attention with which Your Excellency always considers the interests of concord and peace. I take [etc.]

Gonzalo Zaldumbide
  1. See pp. 350 ff.