The Minister in Colombia ( Whitehouse ) to the Secretary of State
[Received March 1.]
Sir: I have the honor to report that the members of the Commission of the League of Nations for the Administration of the Territory of Leticia expect to turn that territory over to the Colombian authorities at the expiration of their year’s mandate. Some question arose as to whether the date should be June 19, 1934, the anniversary of the first [Page 324] formal meeting of the Commission, or June 23, the anniversary of their actually taking over the administration. The League of Nations has been consulted and has given an opinion that the first date mentioned should govern.
All of the members of the Commission are of the opinion that immediately after Colombia has again assumed administration of Leticia an attack by Peruvian forces, either regular or irregular, is inevitable. During the recent trip of Mr. Dawson of the Legation staff to Leticia, General Arthur W. Brown, retiring member of the Commission, and Captain Alfredo de Lemos Basto and Captain Francisco Iglesias, the continuing members thereof, gave it as their belief that, in the absence of an agreement at Rio de Janeiro, the possibility of which seems at the present rather remote, the only way to avoid a resumption of hostilities between Peru and Colombia would be for the term of the Commission to be extended. General Edwin B. Winans, replacing General Brown, expressed no opinion, as he arrived at Leticia with Mr. Dawson and had not had time to judge the situation. All of the old Commissioners feel that neither the Commission nor the League of Nations itself could suggest an extension of the mandate and that any action toward that end would have to be taken by the two governments concerned at the Rio de Janeiro conference or otherwise. Both Captain de Lemos Basto and Captain Iglesias stated that they would be unwilling to remain at Leticia more than the original year agreed upon and that if the term of the Commission were extended its personnel would have to be changed. General Winans also remarked that he had agreed to remain only until June and wished to return to the United States then.