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

No. 581

Sir: I have the honor to report that on July 19th El Comercio of Quito published a press despatch stating that an incident had taken place on the Ecuadoran-Peruvian frontier between Ecuadoran and Peruvian troops. The incident occurred at 10 o’clock on the morning of July 18th in the Province of El Oro south of a point called Aguas Verdes in the Pocitos region. The press reported that several persons had been killed and wounded.

Further details published on July 20th indicated that although no one had been killed or wounded, the Peruvians claimed that Ecuadoran troops had fired on members of the Peruvian Civil Guard, whereas the Ecuadorans stated that they had been fired on first.

The Ecuadoran Minister in Lima was instructed to present a formal protest to the Peruvian Government for this violation of the status quo and invasion of Ecuadoran territory by the Peruvian Army. The Government of Peru likewise instructed its Chargé d’Affaires at Quito to present a protest to the Ecuadoran Foreign Office.

An official communiqué of the Foreign Office, a translation of which is enclosed, gives a complete account of the Ecuadoran version of the incident.

Respectfully yours,

Boaz Long
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Official Communiqué of the Ecuadoran Foreign Office Regarding the Incident on the Ecuadoran-Peruvian Frontier

According to a telegram sent by the Chief of Security of the Frontier to the Governor of the Province of El Oro, yesterday morning there occurred an incident between Ecuadorans and Peruvians a little distance south of the place called Aguas Verdes, in the region of Pocitos, situated in the jurisdiction of Huaquillas, at the time when a group of four men from our garrison was patrolling as usual that region. When the Ecuadoran picket drew near the Peruvian Civil Guards fired on them and obliged our soldiers to fire back.

The same telegram adds that a verbal agreement has been reached by the Chief of the Ecuadoran Garrison and Captain Sevilla of the Peruvian Civil Guard in order to remove from that region the troops from both sides.

Since the Peruvian Foreign Office has made an official statement in which it declares that the Peruvian Civil Guards have been the victims of a surprise attack, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Ecuador wants to put on record the fact that according to information available up to the present time the attack was made by those Guards and that the Ecuadoran soldiers have found themselves obliged to repel them.

Consequently, the Ecuadoran Minister in Lima has been instructed to present an appropriate protest and to demand that the boundary authorities maintain a proper attitude for the benefit of American peace.

The place where the attack took place is in territory which in fact and right belongs to Ecuador. In fact, the de facto boundary is the Zarumilla River, which has never changed its course, as Peru arbitrarily maintains in order to claim jurisdiction over the Pocitos region, which is between the two river beds. Aside from obvious juridical titles, Ecuador has shown Peru the reports of learned foreigners such as Messrs. Shepperd and Sauer, who after a detailed study of the geological formations have arrived at the conclusion that the Zarumilla River has always flowed over its present river bed and that the hypothesis of the double river bed is merely a myth which cannot be held in the light of science. The report of the foreign geologists agrees with those of other scientific authorities and with the statements of the inhabitants of the region.

In the hope of a radical solution of the boundary question, Ecuador has tried to prevent frontier incidents from altering the atmosphere necessary for that solution in spite of the fact that in every case the Ecuadorans have been victims of bloody attacks.

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It is therefore surprizing that the Peruvian Foreign Office instead of following a similar course, and without awaiting a careful investigation of the facts should have issued an accusation of attack against Ecuador. But as has been shown such an attack came from the Peruvian National Guard which had invaded without right Ecuadoran territory.