Leticia Incident

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Colombia–Peru War
Guerra peru1 1932 d.jpg
Colombian Army making maneuvers
Date September 1, 1932 - May 24, 1933
(8 months, 3 weeks and 2 days)
Location Colombia
Result Resolved by the League of Nations, which upheld the Salomón–Lozano Treaty, and the Rio de Janeiro Protocol signed by Colombia and Peru which reinstated the status quo ante bellum.
Belligerents
Peru Peru
Army
Navy
Air Force
Colombia Colombia
Army
Navy
Air Force
National Police
Commanders and leaders
Luis Miguel Sánchez Cerro
Oscar R. Benavides
Enrique Olaya Herrera
Strength
Approximately 1000 Approximately 1000
Casualties and losses
150 to 250, mostly through jungle diseases 140 to 200, mostly through jungle diseases

The Leticia Incident, also called the Leticia War or the Colombia–Peru War (1 September 1932 – 24 May 1933), was a short-lived armed conflict between the Republic of Colombia and the Republic of Peru over territory in the Amazon Rainforest.

Civilian takeover[edit]

The Colombia–Peru War of 1932-3 was the result of dissatisfaction with the Salomón-Lozano Treaty and the imposition of heavy tariffs on sugar. The war started with an internal insurrection in Peru, a civilian takeover of the city Iquitos. On September 1, 1932 President Luis Miguel Sánchez dispatched two regiments of the Peruvian Army to Leticia and Tarapacá, both settlements located in the Amazonas Department in present day southern Colombia. These actions were mostly ignored by the Colombian Government at the time.

Colombian patriotism[edit]

It was not until September 17 of that same year that the Colombian Government took notice. The Peruvian Military Forces which were encroached upon the banks of the Putumayo River stopped several large trade ships from traveling to Leticia. The result of this was an explosion of Colombian patriotism. Laureano Gómez head of the Senate minority proclaimed, "Peace, peace, peace in inner Colombia; War, war, war on the border against our despicable enemy."

On September 19, El Tiempo reported that they had received over 10,000 letters calling for war and control of Leticia. That same day thousands of Colombian students marched through the streets of Bogotá chanting, "Sánchez Cerro will die and Colombia will defy!" Vásquez Cobo was declared general of the Colombian Amazonian Navy and 10 million dollars were approved by the Senate to fund his venture. Over 400 kilos of gold were donated by the Colombian cities as a symbol of gratitude to Huilan engineer, César García Álvarez.

War Memorial in Tarapacá, Colombia. Plaque reads,"To the Heroes of the Colombian Air Force; who with true courage gave the best of themselves; flying with their noble aircraft over river and jungle. Declaring over our Amazonia with the sound of their motors the sovereignty of our country during the war with Peru."

The war[edit]

President Sánchez believed Colombia had no chance of defending itself: lacking roads and a proper Navy, the Amazon region had no Colombian military presence. It was not until December 1932 that General Alfredo Vásquez Cobo reached the mouth of the Amazon River with a fleet of old ships he acquired in Europe. Within 90 days Colombia organized a respectable military response to the Peruvian invasion. Herbert Boy and the other German Aviators of SCADTA (later to become Avianca) fitted their commercial planes for war as a temporary Colombian Air Force. The first attack by the Colombian Navy was upon Tarapacá. The city had been chosen because Leticia was on the border with Brazil and the Colombian Forces feared to attack the well defended Peruvian position in that city.[citation needed] The recuperation of Tarapacá was a bloodless event since no Peruvian troops were present in that town. The day before, February 14, 1933, the Peruvian Air Force had attempted to bomb the Colombian Fleet, but most of the bombs had hit off target.[1] The Peruvian forces in Leticia could not be forced to withdraw but the events in Lima, and the assassination of the Peruvian president, changed the situation and the new Peruvian president ordered undefeated Peruvian troops to leave Leticia. Part of Peruvian's Pacific fleet were coming through the Amazon River to engage in combat.

Rio de Janeiro Protocol[edit]

On the same day, the Colombian president Enrique Olaya broke off all relations with the Peruvian government due to aerial attack. He ordered an attack on Leticia but what was repelled by Peruvian troops.

On April 30, 1933, after giving a speech at the Lima Senatal Dome, President Sánchez was shot dead on the steps of the dome by a young cook. 15 days later, his successor, Óscar Benavides, met with the head of the Colombian Liberal Party, Alfonso López Pumarejo, to secure an agreement to turn Leticia over to a League of Nations commission.

Colombia and Peru met in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to sign a peace treaty. In the Rio de Janeiro Protocol, as it was called, Peru stated that, "We sincerely deplore the events that occurred starting September, 1932. Specifically those that damaged our relationship with Colombia." The Salomón-Lozano Treaty was also reaffirmed by the Peace Treaty.

References[edit]

  1. ^ von Rauch 1984, p.6
  • von Rauch, Herbert. "A South American Air War...The Letcia Conflict." Air Enthusiast. Issue 26, December 1984-March 1985. Bromley, Kent: Pilot Press. Pages 1–8. ISSN 0143-5450.

External links[edit]