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41

Monday, September 30th 2019, 12:38am

Iquitos, 18 June1949

Felix Wankel breathed a sigh of relief when he received the telegram advising him that the next supply ship bearing the necessary materials for the next phase of work on the floating dry dock had arrived at the Brazilian river port of Manaus. It was customary for freighters arriving from Europe to call there to off-load cargo before ascending the river to enter the upper Amazon. Freed of some of their cargo, the ships would ride higher in the water which guarded against grounding. The telegram also advised him that in addition to the pontoons and structural steel for the next phase of construction on the dry dock the supply ship was bearing additional workmen to help assure that the project remained on schedule; this last point he did appreciate, for with more skilled workmen on the scene there would be time enough for the supplemental tasks his team were always being asked to tackle. Based upon past experience, Wankel expected the supply ship to arrive within a week, ten days at the outside. He started making notes to discuss with his foremen in the morning.

42

Wednesday, October 2nd 2019, 6:35pm

Gran Hotel Bolivar, Lima, 20 June 1949

Robinson had returned to his hotel after a long day of meetings with representatives of the many facets of Peruvian bureaucracy involved in developing the mineral wealth of the country. He mixed himself a whiskey and soda and loosened his tie, and sat down to review the day’s progress before dining with Ambassador Pawley.

Thanks to Pawley’s cogent advice Robinson had managed to avoid some of the pitfalls that might have derailed his mission at the outset; as it was, he had at least interested the principal decision-makers in the project for which he sought backing. More than ten years ago a survey team had discovered exploitable deposits of copper and molybdenum near Haquira, in the Apurimac Region, but the report had been filed when the Andean War had broken out and in the subsequent disruptions it had been forgotten. Had he not rediscovered the report during the research for his Masters’ degree, it would have remained so.

Copper was sufficiently abundant around the globe that it alone would not have drawn him to South America, but Utah Construction and Mining was very aware of the important role molybdenum played in modern metallurgy and, if the old survey findings were correct, the ore at Haquira was particularly rich in that mineral. Sipping his drink, Robinson counseled himself that patience was required to deal with the proud Peruvians, whose caution in embracing the Yankee dollar was readily apparent; but Robinson as an individual, and Utah Construction as a firm, were willing to play for the long game.

43

Friday, October 4th 2019, 6:19pm

Iquitos, 25 June 1949

The arrival of the freighter Imtraut Cords not only brought relief to Felix Wankel and his construction crew but pleased the merchants of Iquitos who were able to receive the goods ordered months ago. The rising tide of prosperity that had lifted Iquitos out of the commercial doldrums and returned her to her rightful place as the commercial center of the Tres Fronteras, but this depended upon the continued flow of consumer goods brought upriver and the export of primary products to the wider world – products that now waited their turn in riverside warehouses.

Wankel’s pontoons, which were carried on the freighter’s fore and after-decks were the first items to be off-loaded; they had to be in order to clear the ship’s hatchways. Once these encumbrances were dealt with the ship’s crew and the local dock workers took to bringing up the goods that would keep the economic life of the city going. The Imtraut Cords carried bales of textiles and ready-made clothing, shoes, boots, and leather goods; machinery and metals to be fabricated into the machetes and other tools that would clear the jungle and make way for new plantations; cases of bottled beverages and spirits destined for the many cantinas of the city; bricks, boards, cable, and wire – to keep the pace of construction up to the mark. Unloading the ship would take several days – after which she would take on a return cargo of rubber, timber, and other forest products.

44

Monday, October 7th 2019, 3:15am

Diario Oficial El Peruano (Lima), 29 June 1949

The transport ships Bambas and Matagaga were launched today at the Mollendo-Matarani dockyard of the Servicios Industriales de la Marina. The second pair of Corongo-class vessels to be constructed for the Armada they are due to be completed by early December. The lead ship, Corongo, and her sister Parcartambo, are expected to complete next month and enter service before the end of the year. Their arrival is expected to significantly increase the ability of the Armada to support regional development and communication along the nation’s lengthy coastline.

45

Wednesday, October 30th 2019, 8:39pm

Peruvian News and Events, July 1949

The Peruvian Times (Lima), 2 July 1949

Yesterday in the Callao naval shipyard keels were laid for five new vessels for the Peruvian Navy – the destroyers Bolognesi and Garcia, the corvettes Ayabaca and Chulucanas, and the salvage tug Morales. The two destroyers are the first ordered to replace those vessels sold abroad to China and Japan, or otherwise disposed of. The corvettes, of the Huancabamba class, are the latest of six vessels built or building, and are intended to protect offshore economic resources. The Morales is expected to fulfill the Peruvian Navy’s need for modern support services afloat.

46

Saturday, November 2nd 2019, 6:01pm

Puno, Puno Region, 5 July 1949

The notes of the last bars of the Himno Nacional faded in the wind whipping off the lake; the commissioning ceremony for the Ipari was complete, Lieutenant Díaz unfolded the document containing his orders and read them aloud to the assembled crew – and a few curious onlookers ashore. He was now officially the ship’s master and commander – a status he had despite all the string-pulling and favor-cashing he could exert. He had little choice to make the best of his situation.

At least the Navy had provided him with a good crew, including some native to the lake region and who spoke the local Puno Quechua dialect, and the rail connection with the outside world eased the problems of outfitting his ship and laying in the necessary supplies – which, given the Iparia’s social action purposes, included such diverse items as notebooks and pencils, bandages and analgesics, seeds, schoolbooks, and missals. The latter had been insisted upon by the ship’s chaplain, Father Alfredo Lescano.

In three days, once the last of her supplies arrived, the Ipari would cast off for her first mission, a short jaunt across the waters of the lake, to Taquile Island.

47

Friday, November 8th 2019, 6:25pm

Gran Hotel Bolivar, Lima, 8 July 1949

Robinson reflected upon the difficulties of developing mining properties in a nation lacking a decent transportation infrastructure. Through dint of careful negotiation he had managed to convince the hydra-headed Peruvian bureaucracy of the desirability of developing the Haquira mine project. The Office of Mines and Mineral Development stood squarely behind the scheme – the prospect of adding molybdenum to Peru’s treasure trove appealed to them; the General Directorate of Resource Management was amenable, but did have concerns about over-production of copper that might hurt existing operations elsewhere; and the State Committee for Economic Development saw opportunities for the entire district and had quickly begun to lay out plans to meet its goals. And therein lay the root of Robinson’s present dilemma – money – or more to the point, who was going to pay for the general economic overhead associated with the project.

There was no town per se in the vicinity; scattered mountain villages, but no concentration of potential labor – it would cost to hire, recruit, transport, and maintain them. There were no railroads in the area, no rivers or navigable streams, and no real roads – some means of getting men, equipment, and supplies in and the ore out would have to be devised. And the Peruvians looked to Robinson and his company to provide the funding for all the social costs. Oh they would contribute towards it, each of the departments had assured him of that – but he and his partners were being asked to lay out large sums up front before they could turn over a spade’s-worth of ore.

That evening he sent a cablegram to his home office in Los Angeles outlining the situation and requesting that the firm’s chief accountant fly down to join him. Maybe they could sharpen their pencils sufficiently to salvage something of the venture.

48

Tuesday, November 12th 2019, 3:19pm

Puerto Chilcano, Taquile Island, 11 July 1949

The Ipari lay in the open roadstead of the village of Huillanopampa, the largest village on the sparsely populated island; the mountains that comprised much of the island gave some protection to the winds. The ship lay moored close to shore – the waters of Lake Titicaca shelved rapidly to deep water on this side of the island – and a gangway had been laid from the Ipari’s deck to the shore to facilitate the comings and goings of the crew and her visitors.

Since her arrival two days ago Díaz had watched the island’s inhabitants – Taquileños – following their quiet, ancient traditions. Contrary to his expectations, the Ipari had not been mobbed by natives seeking anything and everything the ship had to offer. A delegation of village elders had come aboard inquiring as to the purpose of the Ipari’s visit, and listened gravely to Díaz’s explanation through the facility of an interpreter. Informed that the ship had a doctor and medical facilities aboard, the elders informed him that those requiring medical assistance would be sent – and a number of serious cases had been brought to the ship. When apprised that the ship had carpenters and tools available, they asked for assistance to help carry out repairs to the local church – a task Díaz was happy to undertake – it would look good on his report. Little interest was shown by the locals in education – and this Díaz could comprehend; the village had no school and the traditional way of life of the Taquileños did not demand books. The elders had listened to the suggestion that they build a permanent school building, and agreed that it would be useful, but they wished the church to be repaired first.

The Ipari would remain several more days before sailing to her next destination. Díaz arranged with the elders to have a survey made of Huillanopampa against the day when more infrastructure might be built there.

49

Friday, November 15th 2019, 3:25pm

The Peruvian Times (Lima), 15 July 1949

The keel of the logistics support vessel Alcamarina was laid down today in the Callao dockyard of the Servicios Industriales de la Marina, on the slip recently vacated by her sister, the Pacamayo, whose construction continues elsewhere in the shipyard. These vessels are intended to enhance the ability of the Peruvian Navy to support civil development in remote coastal areas of the country and are capable of transporting and unloading large vehicles with minimal port facilities.


Diario Oficial El Peruano (Lima), 20 July 1949

Yesterday construction of the transport vessels Corongo and Parcatambo was completed at the Servicios Industriales de la Marina, Mollendo-Matarani. It is expected that the ships will enter regular service early in the new year, following a period of trials and training.

50

Tuesday, November 19th 2019, 9:05pm

Ocosuyo, Amantani Island, 21 July 1949

The Ipari had arrived at its second port of call the day before, and she lay in the protection of a small, natural breakwater. The village of Ocosuyo stretched upward from the shoreline amidst terraced fields alternating with small, adobe houses. The ship’s mission here was the same – provide for immediate social and medical needs and assess what might be required in the longer term. Of course, determining whether the local population wish to be dragged from their ancient ways was another question.

Here Díaz found the locals more interested in the Ipari’s mission than the inhabitants on neighboring Taquile Island. Years ago a clinic had existed in Ocosuyo and the inhabitants had maintained the shell of the building against the day when it might be re-established. Thus his medical staff could transfer ashore, where they were better able to deal with the cases brought in from other parts of the island. He also found them receptive to the instructions of the agronomists aboard, who wish to introduce new crops to vary the islanders’ diet of quinoa, maize, and potatoes. The village had no school, so impromptu classes for the older children were arranged in the village plaza, while the construction crew was detailed to assist in modifying a vacant house to serve as in the longer term.

Assessing the situation, Díaz determined that the Unidad Militar de Asentamiento Rural would do well to deploy a team to the island to follow-up on what the Ipari could accomplish during her stay. He also found a certain satisfaction in helping the friendly villagers make their lives better; while he still wished he was sailing the high seas, he had begun to realize the importance of his present mission; and he was in command of the Armada’s flagship on Lake Titicaca…

51

Saturday, November 23rd 2019, 6:54pm

Iquitos, Loreto, 23 July 1949

Joaquim Nabuco, the Brazilian consul-general, prepared his latest report to the Foreign Ministry with care. He in no way wished to be alarmist, yet he could not help but be concerned with the growth of Peruvian influence throughout the Tres Fronteras. The government in Lima was loud in its professions of peace with its neighbors, and indeed Nabuco saw no overt military threat emerging; no, the influence he feared was that of economic power and political ideology.

How could he express his apprehension that Peruvian activism would engender demands from Brazilians living near the border for similar services from their own government? Every day Peruvian rural clinics were treating cases of injury or disease attributable to those living on Brazilian soil – on an equal basis with Peruvian nationals – because there was nothing to be had in their own country. It was not quite the same with regard to schools but a trickle of his countrymen had foresworn their allegiance and immigrated to Peru where their prospects seemed greater.

Already the markets of Iquitos were drawing a quarter of their business from his countrymen across the border, and he suspected at least the same proportion from those living in Colombia. Due to volume of business here goods were more plentiful, their prices lower, and better prices were fetched for materials sought for export. Rumors regarding discovery of oil in the area northwest of the city had drawn adventurous Europeans to the region, and Nabuco worried that should substantial deposits of petroleum be found near the ill-defined borders such might provide the spark for conflict.

In his previous reports he had hinted at these issue. Now he felt compelled to speak plainly. Rio had to wake up or risk the upper Amazon slipping from its grasp.

52

Saturday, November 23rd 2019, 8:29pm

Iquitos, Loreto, 23 July 1949
Every day Peruvian rural clinics were treating cases of injury or disease attributable to those living on Brazilian soil – on an equal basis with Peruvian nationals – because there was nothing to be had in their own country.

Not to be obnoxiously contrarian, but this is patently untrue.

The Brazilian government spent significant resources on developing communities in the Amazon region, and did so years before Peru made any efforts in this region whatsoever. The Brazilian Navy operates six hospital ships on the Amazon - the Compaixão class - doing much the same sort of business the Peruvians do with the Pucalipa & Co... but in greater numbers, with larger onboard facilities, for multiple years now. The Brazilians also have a construction ship dedicated to work in this region, building such things as river navigational aids, without which all of the ships heading into Iquitos would find the route rather more dangerous than otherwise.

It's all well and good to trumpet the Peruvian successes in the Amazon basin, but it's wrong to believe the Brazilians have not been sitting by idly. It's far more likely, in view of more complete evidence, that the Brazilians established a standard that the Peruvians only recently respond to, rather than vice-versa.

This, of course, might just be Nabuco's perception of things from across the border in Peru, but it's a perception not based in reality. :)

53

Saturday, November 23rd 2019, 8:56pm

Iquitos, Loreto, 23 July 1949
Every day Peruvian rural clinics were treating cases of injury or disease attributable to those living on Brazilian soil – on an equal basis with Peruvian nationals – because there was nothing to be had in their own country.

Not to be obnoxiously contrarian, but this is patently untrue.

The Brazilian government spent significant resources on developing communities in the Amazon region, and did so years before Peru made any efforts in this region whatsoever. The Brazilian Navy operates six hospital ships on the Amazon - the Compaixão class - doing much the same sort of business the Peruvians do with the Pucalipa & Co... but in greater numbers, with larger onboard facilities, for multiple years now. The Brazilians also have a construction ship dedicated to work in this region, building such things as river navigational aids, without which all of the ships heading into Iquitos would find the route rather more dangerous than otherwise.

It's all well and good to trumpet the Peruvian successes in the Amazon basin, but it's wrong to believe the Brazilians have not been sitting by idly. It's far more likely, in view of more complete evidence, that the Brazilians established a standard that the Peruvians only recently respond to, rather than vice-versa.

This, of course, might just be Nabuco's perception of things from across the border in Peru, but it's a perception not based in reality. :)


At last, a reaction from somebody! ;)

Seriously, if Brazil has done these good deeds, I haven't seen much mention of them since taking charge of Peru. My apologies for the oversight. Consul General Nabuco should probably be recalled by his government.

54

Saturday, November 23rd 2019, 10:29pm

Seriously, if Brazil has done these good deeds, I haven't seen much mention of them since taking charge of Peru.

A side-effect of Brazil being largely in caretaker status, unfortunately. Hood and I have kept their naval forces largely up to date (although I think we're a few quarters behind on sim reports) but we're obviously not posting news. Still, I did make sure the list of all of Brazil's riverine ships was fully up to date, since it had a few missing patrol boats and such.

Nabuco might instead critique that the Brazilian efforts are now starting to be overshadowed by the Peruvians in the border area. Given that the Brazilians have... rather significantly more territory to cover than the Peruvians, the Brazilian efforts in those border regions represent only a small part of their overall work.

At the end of the day, though, Peruvian development of the Amazon basin also helps strengthen Brazil, since the cargoes bound for Peru still must make their way up Brazil's section of the river. Places like Manaus and Fonte Boa will be fully appreciative of that uptick in trade. After all, economics isn't a zero-sum game where Peru can only win if Brazil loses... in fact, both Brazil and Peru can win at the same time, and Brazil is cognizant of that fact.

55

Saturday, November 23rd 2019, 10:38pm

This is true, and Nabuco only see what the Peruvians are doing - he may hear of what his own government is doing, but the immediate scene might overwhelm the written word. No doubt that traffic on the upper Amazon helps Brazil - a rising tide floats all boats - but as you say, the balance may be sliding in Peru's favor.

56

Thursday, November 28th 2019, 3:50pm

Gran Hotel Bolivar, Lima, 25 July 1949

Alan Christensen, the company’s chief accountant, had flown down from Los Angeles a week before at the behest of Robinson, and they had spent days of meetings with Peruvian officials as well as a two-day visit to the site of the proposed mining venture at Haquira. A facts-and-figures man Christensen was tasked with ascertaining whether the project could be made to yield a profit. He was not hopeful. He and Robinson discussed the situation over drinks in the hotel’s bar.

“Given a free hand we could certainly make a go of the mine, even if we had to haul the equipment over the mountains to process the ore. But the cost of a road or railroad over which to haul the equipment, and ship the ore…”

Robinson nodded. “To say nothing of the cost of recruiting, training, and housing miners…”

“And hospitals, churches, and schools? What sort of government expects a company to pick up those sorts of costs?”

“Apparently, this one.”

Christensen lowered his voice. “I don’t suppose that the appropriate officials could be encouraged to change their minds on that point.” They both knew that by ‘encouraged’ he meant ‘bribed’.

“It would be dangerous to try. I’ve been cautioned by Ambassador Pawley that the Government has taken a strong stance against corruption, and if it was discovered the entire thing could blow up in our faces. State might be able to shield up from prosecution by the locals but our future chances here would be shot to hell.”

The accountant sighed. “Couldn’t you have found a mine in a more accessible spot?”

57

Saturday, November 30th 2019, 10:13pm

Control Fronterizo Santa Rosa, 30 July 1949

Since the ‘thaw’ in relations between Peru and her southern neighbor the frontier region south of Tacna had seen many changes, most for the better. Almost immediately commerce had resumed, if only on a limited scale. And then work had begun to restore the Ferrocarril Tacna á Arica, the railroad that linked this portion of southern Peru with the Chilean port of Arica to the south; the Empresa Nacional de Ferrocarriles del Peru and the Chilean firm of Torres-Vera had employed several hundred workers on both sides of the border, restoring the road bed and laying track. Indeed the stretch of railway between the Peruvian border post of Santa Rosa and its Chilean counterpart, the Complejo Fronterizo Chacalluta, was now double-tracked, facilitating the operation of traffic in both directions.

Today would see the culmination of the progress. Dignitaries from Lima and Santiago had come to formally reopen the railroad to regular traffic. As many gathered to watch a train from Arica approached the border, its wagons laden with manufactured goods; from the north a train from Tacna bore minerals to be delivered to the docks at Arica for export to Europe. Both paused while speeches marking the event were made, bands from the two nations played, and cheers echoed. Then the trains slowly entered the double-track section, passing each other on their respective journeys.

Such is the march of progress when governments put aside their rivalries and work for the betterment of their citizens.

58

Tuesday, December 3rd 2019, 1:38am

Oficina de Minas y Desarollo Minero, Lima, 31 July 1949

Robinson, now accompanied by Christensen, had made another round of Peruvian bureaucracy in an attempt to persuade them to relent on some of the social overhead costs associated with the Haquira venture. Today they met with the Director of the Office of Mines and Mineral Development, Juan Oviedo, and as with other offices, were making small headway.

Senors, I appreciate your situation, but you must understand mine. Peru cannot afford to grant mining concessions against blank checks payable at some future date.”

Senor Oviedo, with the costs associated with developing the mine, my company would need an extended period of tax abatements to offset the cost of development and the investment in infrastructure and human capital.”

After an hour of fruitless discussions their respective positions changed not a jot. The two Americans were about to excuse themselves when a change in Oviedo’s face suggested an idea had come to him.

Senors, I must be honest with you. Your proposal for development of the mine at Haquira is not the only project my office has been considering, and I must confess that the principals have reached much the same conclusion on costs of development – in the present circumstances it is beyond their means. Why would it be beyond the realm of possibility of joining forces to achieve a successful venture?”

Robinson raised an eyebrow. “And what sort of project are we considering?”

Oviedo quickly sketched the outline. Substantial deposits of copper, molybdenum, rhenium, and silver had been found at Toquepala, in the Tacna Department, located in the province of the same name. A German group had proposed its development but had balked at the costs of development. Both Americans followed the thrust of Oviedo’s suggestion, and looking at the location of the mine on the map recognized that the transportation issues that had stymied them at Haquira were far more easily addressed at Toquepala.

“It’s less and a hundred miles to Tacna, where there’s a railhead.” Andersen quickly saw the implications.

“Yes Senor Christensen, and now with the ferrocarril open it would be relatively easy to develop the mine. Or, as the other party had proposed, a new ferrocarril to the coast at Ilo could be constructed. My government has already decided to move forward with the development of that port.”

Questions and discussions followed rapidly. The Americans were definitely interested.

“Could you arrange a meeting with representatives of the other party? I believe we should explore the possibilities…”

“Of course Senor Robinson. Senor Krupp’s representative is still in Lima. I shall ask him to meet with me tomorrow and, if I can convince him on the matter, I shall arrange a meeting between us all as soon as possible thereafter.”