The Minister in Colombia (Caffery) to the Secretary of State

No. 4757

Sir: Referring to the Department’s telegram No. 49 of November 16, 6 p.m. and to my reply No. 83 of November 18, 4 p.m.22 in connection with a possible solution to the Leticia controversy, I have the honor to say that, as set out in the first paragraph of my telegram No. 83, Dr. Olaya expressed at some length “his deep appreciation of the Secretary’s interest and his strong hope that the Secretary will continue to interest himself actively in the Leticia affair.” However, [Page 298] he was very positive that he could not consider the Department’s suggestion. He feels that if he attempted to do anything of the kind he might be turned out of Office. As set out in the last paragraph of the same telegram, his position is that, although he ardently hopes to avoid war and realizes that he cannot foretell what the consequences of a war would be either for himself or for his country, he cannot in the face of popular opinion and feeling enter into any arrangement with Peru until he has recovered Leticia.

As set out in the second to the last paragraph of my telegram, he “made a number of proposals all of which I told him were unacceptable because they involved action on the part of the Department of State which I know to be impracticable.” What he would like us to do, would be for instance: (1) publicly to reprimand Peru for her attitude; or (2) to mobilize the American nations against Peru, either for violating the Kellogg Pact or for violating the declaration of August 3, last; or (3) to notify the Peruvian Government through our Embassy at Lima that the Lima Government should publicly disavow the taking of Leticia and promise to withdraw all support from the captors thereof; or (4) to make public declaration that we will permit no fighting on the Pacific coast of Colombia or Peru.

It is obvious (as intimated in my despatch No. 4703 of November 7, 1932)23 that Olaya feels that the Department should take a more positive attitude in the Leticia controversy, and that he is very much disappointed that we are not doing so. His mind, unfortunately, will run back on the well-worn road to the oil law,24 Barco controversy,25 settlement of the United Fruit Company difficulties, etc., etc., etc. However, as I remarked before (my despatch No. 4703), “Dr. Olaya is not open to reason on these matters and it is better to let matters remain as they are and say nothing at all in this connection.”

Respectfully yours,

Jefferson Caffery
  1. Latter not printed.
  2. Not printed.
  3. See Foreign Relations, 1931, vol. ii, pp. 1 ff.
  4. See ibid., pp. 18 ff.