The Minister in Ecuador (Dawson) to the Secretary of State

No. 736

Sir: I have the honor to refer to the Legation’s despatch No. 712 of October 13, 1932, concerning the recent Ecuadoran-Peruvian border incident on the Zarumilla River.

As set forth in this despatch, the incident appeared to be of slight importance and to have been satisfactorily settled. Nevertheless, during the past few days the Quito press has published reports accusing Peruvian forces of subsequent incursions into Ecuadoran territory in the same area. For instance, on October 26, El Día quoted a letter of October 22 from Machala to the effect that seventy armed Peruvians had entered Ecuadoran territory “in the jurisdiction of Pocitos” the name given the island between the old and new beds of the Zarumilla River) and had threatened a small force of Ecuadoran rural police. On October 28, El Comercio reported that Peruvian troops were patrolling an area on the right bank of the Zarumilla which had previously never been occupied by Peruvian forces. Again on November 4 El Día quoted a letter from Chacras alleging that fifty Peruvian soldiers under a Lieutenant Chuaca had occupied Pocitos, contemplated the occupation of other localities, and had undertaken the construction of a road.

I have discussed these reports with the Ecuadoran Minister for Foreign Affairs who informs me that they presumably have their origin in letters referring to events of some time ago and that the border incident has in the meantime been satisfactorily disposed of. The Minister informs me further that, in order to guard against further difficulty, the Ecuadoran and Peruvian Governments have agreed to withdraw all forces to a prudent distance (distancia prudencial) from the scene of the recent incident. He added that the Peruvian Government had manifested its desire to send two guards from time to time to patrol the intermediate area but that he had not accepted this proposal. The Peruvian Minister in Quito has also informed me of the agreement between the two Governments to withdraw their forces to a safe distance in order to prevent further incidents.

It seems likely that, in so far as they have any basis in fact, the recent reports published by the Quito press refer to events which [Page 359] occurred some days or weeks ago. Furthermore, it is to be noted that they appear to be based on letters from private persons. These letters are no doubt exaggerated and presumably reflect the uneasiness and hostility prevailing along the border at the time.

Respectfully yours,

William Dawson