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

No. 2315

Sir: I have the honor to refer to my despatch No. 2291 of October 31, 1932, concerning the boundary troubles between Peru and Ecuador and the attitude of the latter in relation to the Leticia incident.

Guayaquil United Press despatches dated November 5th state that Peruvian forces do not occupy Pocitos, the disputed territory on the frontier between Ecuador and Peru, as the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ecuador has published assurances of the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Peru to the effect that Peruvian forces would remain in their former positions and do not occupy the zone agreed to be left unoccupied by the forces of both countries. There are no developments from the Peruvian side of the boundary. A strong force of civil guards with troops of the line in reserve are based on Zarumilla.

Peruvian opinion is much interested in the reported appointment of Guillermo Valencia, the Colombian conservative statesman and man of letters, as Special Ambassador to Ecuador. This appointment is regarded as an endeavor to support the Colombian thesis before Ecuadorian public opinion. Doctor Valencia comes from the Colombian department of Cauca, which has many commercial and cultural relations with Ecuador.

The most reliable reports from Ecuador confirm the intended attitude of that country as one of strict neutrality in the event of war between Peru and Colombia, but the prevalent feeling of Peru is that Ecuadorian sentiment strongly leans toward the Colombian attitude and that Ecuador can hardly be expected to decline a favorable opportunity to reassert its rights on the Napo, Pastaza, Paute, and other rivers which have been granted to Ecuador by treaties and which are now occupied by Peru. At any rate, Peru is taking into account the possibility of active Ecuadorian assistance to Colombia in the event of hostilities, and the formulation of Peruvian plans take into consideration the possibilities of Ecuadorian military action.

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A rumor has been current in Lima, which is unconfirmed but which, nevertheless, has been widely circulated to the effect that Ecuador has made a secret agreement with Colombia, according to which Colombia will receive direct aid from Ecuador in the event of war with Peru. The fact that this rumor is widely credited illustrates the nervous state of Peruvian public opinion. There is no immediate alarm here but most Peruvians realize that their country has two instead of one potential enemy on the north, and this fact exercises a definite effect in cooling the ardor for war.

Respectfully yours,

For the Ambassador:
William C. Burdett

First Secretary of Embassy