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Wednesday, November 15th 2017, 6:46pm

Peruvian News and Events, June 1948

El Popular (Lima), 4 June 1948

With the newly operational destroyers Cano and De los Heros riding at anchor in the harbor of Callao Minister of Defense Zenon Noriega Aquero presided over the formal ceremonies marking the completion of the destroyers Larrea and Deganio. In his remarks Minister Noriega affirmed his confidence in the ability of the Armada’s latest vessels to undertake the duties of those vessels being sold to China, citing the reduction in regional tensions through better relations with Chile and Colombia.

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Tuesday, November 28th 2017, 12:50am

Lima, The American Embassy, 11 June 1948

The clerk from the embassy mail room dropped off the letter in the in-box of Commander Trevor Stevens, the naval attaché, that morning. It was not until the late afternoon that Stevens returned from Callao, where he was following up the matter of Peru’s sale of warships to China.

The letter was from the Department of the Navy, Bureau of Personnel. Stevens opened it and read with surprise the details of his next posting. He was to be relieved of his embassy duties in Lima but not, as was normal, reassigned to sea duty. He was directed to return to Washington as soon as possible for briefings prior to departing for Manila, where he would take up the duties of naval attaché there.

Picking up the telephone he called Smythe, the ambassador’s secretary, to ask for an appointment, in order to apprise Pawley of the news. When he had accomplished that, he reflected that leaving the backwater of Peru for the more important post in the Philippines might not be such a bad thing.

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Tuesday, December 12th 2017, 1:11am

Loreto, vicinity of the Peruvian frontier, 19 June 1948

The many informants who supplied the Brazilian and Colombian authorities in the Tres Fronteras with ‘intelligence’ vied with each other regarding their speculative interpretations of what they saw, or heard, or imagined. Sifting out the truth from the chaff often reduced such authorities to tears or drove them to the local cantina. But this much was true – more of the swift motor launches had arrived to lend greater mobility to the Peruvian 2ª Brigada de Infantería de Marina – a pair of them had even made an official call at Loreto, where the Colombian were permitted to inspect them.

The work of the Military Rural Settlement Units had fostered the growth of many new hamlets and villages throughout the region – attracting settlers from other parts of Peru and increasing commerce throughout the upper Amazon; the Peruvian clinics in the immediate border areas even attracted patients from across the fluid borders – treating them on an equal basis. The growing number of Peruvian-flag cargo ships arriving at Iquitos brought an increasing quantity of manufactured goods for the local markets, and carried out of the region cargos of timber, rubber, and other valuable forest commodities.

The obvious intention of the Peruvian Government to raise the standard of living of its citizens brought forth invidious comparisons from those living on the other side of those same fluid borders at the seeming inaction of their own governments. Cables to Bogota, and to Manaus and Rio, brought only promises after lengthy silence. Thus news that a group of Europeans had arrived at Iquitos to begin surveys along the Peruvian Amazon sparked new concerns. What might be next?

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Tuesday, December 19th 2017, 6:46pm

Peruvian News and Events, July 1948

Report of the Hungarian Military Attaché, Lima, 4 July 1948

There is little to report regarding the Peruvian Army and Air Force since my last report. However there has been much activity on the part of the Peruvian Navy.

The Servicios Industriales de la Marina yard at Callao has begun work on numerous warships. Two more fleet destroyers of the Cano-class have been laid down, as well as two corvettes of a new design. My sources indicate that the new destroyers are intended to replace those to be sold to China, and that the corvettes are expected to replace the older torpedo boats being transferred as well.

Taken in hand for refitting are the heavy cruiser Almirante Grau, the battlecruiser Almirante Villar, and the light cruiser Ancash – reflecting a commitment of the Peruvian navy modernization. The eight destroyers and eight torpedo boats have been paid off for transfer – which has officially scheduled for October.

In a surprise move two of the Peruvian Navy’s large destroyer leaders are being scrapped – the Independencia and the Union have begun demolition in the Callao yard. It is probable that the remaining pair of the Independencia-class will follow in the coming months. Three small minelayers are also to be scrapped.

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Thursday, December 28th 2017, 6:33pm

The Peruvian Times (Lima), 7 July 1948

Reliable reports suggest that the Peruvian Government has entered into discussions with that of the Argentine regarding the purchase by the latter of the small aircraft carrier Lima. The Lima, acquired but a few years ago from Italy, was once seen as the centerpiece of Peru’s naval renaissance; now it seems that Peru, recognizing its limitations, is giving up the grandiose dreams it once had of competing head to head with its Chilean neighbor. The matter of the potential disposal of the Lima follows hard upon the sale to China of numerous older Peruvian warships. What remains is far better suited to protecting Peru’s regional interests and supplementing the nation’s inadequate rail and road infrastructure.


Iquitos, 10 July 1948

Carlos Echeverri Cortés, Colombian consul in the largest city in the Peruvian Amazon, had long kept his government informed of what he saw regarding Peru’s efforts to develop the trade and overall economic viability of the distant and hard to reach region. He hoped that by concentrating its efforts to develop the territories it had that Lima might be persuaded to cease its interests in that part of the upper Amazon claimed by his own country. Thus far that seemed to be the case.

At first he paid little attention to the arrival in the city of a party of German technicians and engineers, until word reached his ears of their purpose – surveying for a site at which to construct a floating dry dock. Since rumor had it that this project would be under the aegis of the Peruvian Navy it immediately set off alarm bells in his mind. While not an overt threat, if true it would mark a great step forward in Peruvian naval capabilities. His cable to Bogota confined itself to facts – as best he knew them – but he was assured that the Foreign Ministry would see the issue much as he.

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Wednesday, January 3rd 2018, 8:27pm

La Industria (Trujillo), 12 July 1948

The Ministerio de la Produccion has announced the conclusion of an agreement between the Empresa Nacional de Aviación and the Chinese Government, acting on behalf of China Southwest Airlines, for the sale to the airline of ten examples of the ENA C-25 Ponchito twin-engine civil transport. The Chinese Government has also acquired license rights to the local manufacture of the C-25 airframe. Deliveries of the aircraft to China are expected to commence in December of this year.

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Tuesday, January 16th 2018, 8:42pm

Lima, The German Embassy, 19 July 1948

Engineer Felix Wankel read the preliminary report of the Iquitos survey team with interest. Six weeks ago he and a group of specialists sponsored by the Deutscher Entwicklungsdienst had arrived in response to a request for technical assistance from the Peruvian Government. In frank imitation of the Entwicklungsdienst the Peruvians had already put into operation their scheme of Military Rural Settlement Units, which were doing good work across the country to improve rural health, agriculture, and local economies. No, Peru had asked for technical assistance in harnessing its natural resources to the betterment of the country as a whole, and Wankel had teams examining the possibility of large-scale irrigation works, development of unexploited mineral resources, and the potential for hydro-electric power. Among the most pressing need of the Peruvians was the improvement of communications with the Peruvian upper Amazon, the center of which was the river port of Iquitos.

Iquitos saw the coming and going of much river traffic – including ocean-capable vessels that made the long journey up the Brazilian Amazon from the Atlantic – but the city, cut off from the rest of Peru by high mountains – lacked many of the fundamental requisites of a proper port. To address this, the Peruvians had requested assistance in determining what new port facilities were required and – more to the point – how might such facilities be constructed.

The survey report told its own story – there was not sufficient depth of water in the vicinity of Iquitos to assure the operation of a normal graving dock. With the dint of dredging, however, a place could be found for the operation of a small floating repair dock – sufficient to maintain the smaller steamers that plied the upper Amazon. However, the cost of towing such a piece of infrastructure from Europe, all the way up the river to Iquitos, was prohibitive at best – even if political considerations were set aside.

As a reserve officer of the Kriegsmarine though Wankel believed he knew the solution to the problem. He was quite familiar with the use by the Kriegsmarine of modular pontoons for a variety of purposes during landing operations. By designing a dry dock on modular principles it would be easier to carry the pieces by cargo ship to Iquitos where they might be assembled piece by piece. It would take time to design the modules themselves and the fittings that would be required to assemble them, but he was confident it could be done. He quickly began to sketch his ideas upon a notepad…