710 Consultation 3A/642: Telegram

The Chargé in Peru (Butler) to the Secretary of State


239. A meeting of the officers of the Embassy information center had been held to discuss the question of subversive activities in order to reply to the Department’s confidential telegram No. 174, February 17, 8 p.m.18 This group of officers represents the political and economic sections of the Embassy and the offices of the Military, Naval and Legal Attachés.

It was the opinion of those present that the record of Peru as concerns the control of Axis activities is a good one particularly in view of the complexity of the problem and the fact that Peru is not at war with the Axis Powers. The weak points in the situation in Peru arise from political factors, corruption and the poor administration of existing laws and regulations. The Peruvian Government also does not consider that Spain or the Falange are involved in subversive activities; and there is a tendency to be cautious in the control of influential Germans and Japanese. Following paragraphs refer to topic headings employed by the Committee for Political Defense.19

Control of dangerous aliens.
Registration of aliens. There is compulsory registration of all aliens in Peru. Some of this registration takes place in the provinces so that it is difficult to obtain a check in Lima of all aliens registered in the country. The principal problem is to obtain effective and honest administration of existing regulations.
Detention and expulsion. The Peruvian Government has already deported to internment camps in the U S many hundreds of dangerous German and Japanese nationals. Peruvian political protection and corruption among Peruvian officials have been adverse [Page 1559] factors. However Peruvian cooperation has been greatly increased during the past few months. It is doubted if detention camps could be honestly or efficiently operated in Peru. Something might be done to remove Japanese nationals from strategic areas and to relocate them permanently in other parts of the country.
Axis organizations. German and Japanese schools, clubs and organizations have been substantially controlled by the Peruvian Government. The deportation of dangerous Axis nationals especially school teachers all aided in this program. However the Ursuline school still operates and since it is run by Catholic Nuns the Government has been reluctant to close it. Little or nothing has been done with respect to Italian or Spanish organizations although this is not considered of special importance.
Prevention of abuse of citizenship.
It is not believed that much has been accomplished in this field. While naturalization proceedings now are centered in Lima they are secret and it is difficult to obtain information regarding them. There has been scandal and corruption. It is suspected that some applications for naturalization of Germans and Japanese have been predated in order to evade existing legislation. While some naturalized Peruvians born in Axis countries have been deported the Embassy has no record of cases in which naturalized citizens have been deprived of their Peruvian citizenship because of subversive activities. Also in economic warfare work the Peruvian officials take a legalistic attitude and do not usually proceed energetically against naturalized Peruvians even though they are of German or Japanese birth.
Transit across national boundaries.
Entry of persons. There is fairly strict and effective control. All visas for entry into Peru must be approved by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. There also is some check on the country of birth of applicants even though they may be naturalized citizens of one of the American Republics. The situation appears to be generally satisfactory.
Exit of persons. There is even more strict control over the exit of persons from Peru than over the entry into Peru. While this may be due principally to administrative control in connection with tax payments, etc., the result is that it is difficult to leave the country without the knowledge and permission of the Government.
Clandestine crossing of frontiers. It is very probable that border patrols along the Ecuadoran, Chilean, Bolivian and Brazilian frontiers are not effective in preventing clandestine crossings. However it is believed that contraband rather than passengers are involved in clandestine crossings. Registration upon entry into a country is general throughout Latin America which tends to provide a control over clandestine crossings of frontiers by persons.
Acts of political aggression.
Protection of ships and port facilities. It is believed that the Peruvian Navy in cooperation with our own naval authorities have this under satisfactory control.
Protection against sabotage. The Peruvian Government accepted the assistance of agents of the FBI in plant protection surveys. Copies of the recommendations have been made available to the Peruvian Government. There is laxity on the part of Peruvians engaged in the protection of railroads, bridges and other vulnerable points. Remedial action would be to urge the Peruvian authorities to maintain their vigilance and to carry out the recommendations regarding protection against sabotage even though the danger seems to be decreased. Japanese should be removed from strategic areas and there should be a constant guard against possible surprise or fanatical action on the part of the Japanese especially as the tide of war increasingly goes against them.
Control of communications. Telecommunications with the Axis Powers were closed long ago and censorship exists. There is a haphazard censorship of international mails. The control of amateur radio stations is fairly effective. Many telephones of Axis nationals have beeen removed. Censorship of local telephone calls is ineffective but all international calls are monitored including those to and from Spain. There is little control over internal telegrams although messages sent in any language other than Spanish pay a double rate and are delayed for 24 hours which results in some degree of control of subversive activities directed against other American Republics. While Peru has no legislation similar to that of Uruguay and Chile the general program of control of Axis interests and activities in Peru has been directed toward hemisphere security.

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  1. Not printed; it requested a report on problems concerned with Axis aliens and security measures (710 Consultation 3A/642).
  2. The Emergency Advisory Committee for Political Defense meeting at Montevideo; for correspondence on United States participation in its deliberations, see pp. 1 ff.