721.23/2171: Telegram

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

44. My number 37, March 27, 10 p.m. [a.m.?] Leticia.

Foreign Minister informs me Peruvian Ambassador was instructed April 2d to explain to our Government Peruvian viewpoint regarding prolongation occupancy Leticia by League’s Commission with the idea of obtaining our Government’s support and if possible favorable recommendations to the League and [as?] I understood to the Colombian Government as well.
Foreign Minister states postponement at Colombia’s request of beginning of Rio de Janeiro negotiations to October 1933 produced a delay of 4 months which should now be compensated by a reasonable prolongation of occupancy and thus of negotiation status.
Foreign Minister declares withdrawal of League’s Commissioners prior to a settlement resulting from Rio de Janeiro conferences would inflame Peruvian opinion, particularly in Lima. He states President and Cabinet are ardently for peace and his own continuance in Cabinet is conditioned upon the finding of a pacific settlement. It is the internal situation, he says, which preoccupies the Government which fears that once thoroughly roused the country cannot be restrained from war. Foreign Minister admits he is aware Colombia also has an internal situation to consider.
Foreign Minister insists Colombia’s right and title to Leticia is not involved, that all Peru wishes is to preserve for a reasonable time a state of affairs and an atmosphere which will permit of finding a peaceful solution and that this can be done only by a prolongation of League occupancy.
The Foreign Minister made an appeal for my own support to which I was noncommittal. I feel the Peruvian people, including the people of Loreto as a whole sincerely desire to avoid war and that the Government overestimates the reaction of the country to the withdrawal of the League’s Commissioners from Leticia. The remaining
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Sanchez Cerristas now forming the Unión Revolucionaria Party and possibly some sections of the armed forces might be disgruntled but if the Government shows any firmness, I believe it could dominate the situation and indeed develop it in such a way as to add greatly to its prestige. The Apristas are against war and until the wrong done Colombia originally is rectified and the status quo ante September 1, 1932, is reestablished I am dubious as to anything more for Perú than a face-saving device resulting from the Rio negotiations.

Further report by air mail.