The Ambassador in Peru (Dearing) to the Secretary of State
[Received November 24.]
Sir: I have the honor to refer to the Department’s air mail instruction No. 939 of October 31, 1936,13 with reference to the Embassy’s despatch No. 4726 of September 16, 1936, respecting a memorandum prepared by the Peruvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the subject of the commerce between the United States and Peru and particularly the sugar quota granted to Peru by our Government. The Embassy notes that a similar memorandum was transmitted to the Department by the Peruvian Ambassador in Washington on or about October 6th. The Department encloses, for the Embassy’s information, a copy of a memorandum which was being sent to the Peruvian Ambassador14 and requests that its contents be communicated mutatis mutandis to the Peruvian Minister for Foreign Affairs in reply to the memorandum presented to this Embassy.
When I was recently in Washington in the first days of October, I had a talk with the Assistant Secretary of State, Mr. Welles, who asked me to do what might be possible after my return to Peru to keep the situation represented by the Peruvian Government’s memorandum [Page 904] from becoming more serious until the Inter-American conference should have taken place in Buenos Aires and the nations in this part of the world could become aware of our general policies and desirable cooperative efforts as the result of such resolutions and agreements as might be arrived at in Buenos Aires.
Returning to Lima I found the Government completely engrossed in election complications and the sugar situation, for the moment, quite forgotten. A member of the Agrarian Society, Mr. Gerardo Klinge, a few days ago agitated the question at a meeting of that society and caused the society’s organ, La Prensa, to print the gist of his remarks which was that something should be done and that measures of reprisal should be adopted unless the United States was willing to grant the additional quota Peru desired.
The Director and virtual owner of this paper is a close personal friend of the Embassy and I, therefore, called upon him and told him quite frankly that I thought the moment a most inopportune one for taking the line that Mr. Klinge had taken, saying to him that it seemed to me bad psychology when someone wanted something to approach the other party with threats. I told him that our legislation in the matter was in no sense directed against Peru, and we then discussed the matter pro and con at great length.
Whether it was due to my expression of our Government’s point of view or not I do not know (I refrained from requesting that the paper should not publish anything further, insisting that I was merely trying to point out the facts and to keep the feeling between the two countries from becoming in any sense embittered), but there has been no further agitation of the sugar question and meanwhile the Buenos Aires Conference comes nearer.
The Department has, of course, handed the memorandum to the Peruvian Ambassador and I have no doubt he has transmitted it to the Foreign Office here. In view of all the circumstances, however, I thought that very likely it would be better for the Embassy to withhold the presentation of the memorandum for at least a week or two, in order to avoid stirring up the question prior to the time when we shall know what has been agreed to in Buenos Aires in the matter of general commercial policies, etc.
Meanwhile, however, I have discussed its contents carefully with our Commercial Attaché and he has been good enough to give me a memorandum in which he brings out what he believes to be even more convincing figures than the Department supplies in its memorandum. He thought that possibly, in order to be prepared for any rebuttal the Peruvian authorities might present, the Department might be holding back its ammunition for use in case a further memorandum has to be presented. At any rate, it seemed to me that since it appears [Page 905] best to defer the presentation of the memorandum for a short while, we have an opportunity to lay before the Department the Commercial Attaché’s figures, to request the Department to consider them in connection with its memorandum, and then to instruct the Embassy as to whether it desires the memorandum to be presented eventually in exactly the form in which it has been given to the Peruvian Ambassador in Washington, or whether it feels warranted—in the light of Mr. Greenup’s observations—in altering or reinforcing any of the figures. A supplementary corrective memorandum could be sent to the Peruvian Ambassador merely to keep the records straight.
I copy the Commercial Attaché’s memorandum15 to me to the Department for its information, and shall appreciate the Department’s instructions by air mail.