Memorandum by the Director of the Office of American Republic Affairs (Briggs)70


The preliminary investigation of the incident at Talara, in which eight American soldiers were involved, was initated by the Peruvian authorities at Piura, Peru on September 22. This will be followed by a judicial trial which may be drawn out for several weeks. The Embassy at Lima has tentatively engaged Alfredo Porras, a Peruvian attorney, to defend the soldiers. Since Porras is not a trial lawyer, the services of another Peruvian attorney will also be required. The Department has admitted Peruvian jurisdiction over this case.

Claiming that it had no funds available to pay for this defense, the War Department endeavored to have the Justice Department assume the obligation. The matter has not yet been resolved but from the point of view of our Government’s obligation to the soldiers in question, as well as the maintenance of the morale of them and other American troops, we feel that the Ambassador was justified in acting on his own responsibility in obtaining counsel, and that some way should be found to pay appropriate fees.

The Embassy has been instructed (attached telegram)71 to report the approximate cost of the required legal services, but in the meantime I think we should initiate steps to obtain the funds from the Emergency Fund, should that prove to be the only source available to us.

Ellis O. Briggs
  1. Addressed to A–R: Mr. Panuch, and to OBF: Mr. Kurth.
  2. Not printed.