811.24523/8–2946: Telegram

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

us urgent

941. Yesterday 4:30 p.m., I saw FonMin at FonOff for purpose of requesting assistance of Peruvian Govt in making available testimony of Peruvian witnesses for court martial proceedings at Talara. FonMin at that time refused but stated he would take matter under advisement. He also stated he would explore matter further of concurrent jurisdiction and stated he would advise me last night at 10 o’clock at Theatre Municipal which he expected to attend along with President Bustamante. I attended theatre expecting to contact FonMin there but he did not arrive. I then went to chancery and prepared following note which I personally delivered to FonMin at 10 a.m., this morning:

“I have honor to advise Your Excellency that pursuant to my note of August 7 assuring you that my Government had assumed responsibility for punishment of its own personnel involved in incident occurring at Talara July 28 wherein it was stated that all US Army personnel implicated would be vigorously prosecuted and that those found guilty would be summarily and severely punished. A US Army general court martial has been convened at El Pato Air Base Talara, Peru, to try US soldiers involved in assault of Ensign Alberto Rubio Watkins.

In view of fact that US Army Sgt. Oscar J. Eiland whom admittedly was shot by Ensign Alberto Rubio Watkins has been near death for many days as a result thereof, having undergone 16 blood transfusions, he will not be available for trial at present. However, I am advised the US general court martial is now prepared to proceed against the others. This note is to request your Government’s assistance in securing appearance as witnesses of all Peruvian citizens who may desire to testify against US Army personnel involved. I am advised that those Peruvians especially having knowledge of the affair are Ensign Alberto Rubio Watkins, Lt. Juan Rodríguez, Sr Alvaro Macias, Sr Waldo Neves, Engineer Alfonso Carillo, Srta Teresa N.

I am sure Your Excellency agrees that US Army is justified in taking steps to discipline its own personnel and that a judicial proceeding of this character should have access to all relevant facts and that your Government will render appropriate assistance in securing attendance of above named witnesses and any others having knowledge of the facts.

The US general court martial will call the cases to trial at 10 a.m., on August 29 at El Pato Air Base Talara, Peru. As Your Excellency knows, for some days past in my conversations with you, my Government has endeavored to secure cooperation of your Government in securing the attendance of Peruvian witnesses. Therefore it would be appreciated if Your Excellency would advise me at your earliest convenience, whether attendance of Peruvian witnesses will be facilitated by your Government. Transportation to and from [Page 1243] Talara will gladly be furnished for all Peruvian witnesses who may attend.

I am authorized to say that representatives of your Government will have full opportunity to observe proceedings of court martial and that same will be open to public. Transportation facilities will be provided by my Government for any representatives of Government of Peru who may attend.”

Assistant Military Attaché accompanied me and FonMin read note in my presence. He stated he had been called to appear before Senate this afternoon to be questioned on Talara incident and could not agree to send Ensign Rubio and other witnesses before US court martial. He stated he feared furnishing of Peruvian witnesses would be used by my Government to claim that Peru had ceded away its jurisdiction. I stated my Government would not construe attendance of Peruvian witnesses as ceding away of Peruvian jurisdiction. He then stated, in that event he would make available for use court martial, 40 pages of testimony taken down by Peruvian authorities shortly after incident occurred on July 28. He stated that since tomorrow was a holiday and allowing for difficulties of transcription, this testimony would be made available to US court martial on August 31. I again assured FonMin that my Government desired to work in complete cooperation with his Government toward satisfactory adjustment of Talara incident and that I personally appreciated his willingness to cooperate, as well as the fine spirit shown by President Bustamante in relation to whole affair. FonMin then asked if I had objection to changing one sentence in fourth paragraph of my note to strike out words “for some days past” so as to make sentence read “in my conversation yesterday with you” to which I agreed.

I have received word this morning from US court martial at Talara that they have adjourned until August 30. Sgt. Eiland’s condition reported still serious.

Repeated AmEmbassy Panama for General Crittenberger.65

  1. Lt. Gen. Willis D. Crittenberger, Commanding General, Caribbean Defense Command.