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Friday, February 3rd 2017, 8:15pm

Selected Peruvian Events – 1945

Lima, the Chambers of Parliament, 22 February 1945

Joselito Chamoro, President of the Chamber, looked out across the room and saw too many empty seats. The benches of the Government were nearly bare, and neither the Prime Minister nor the President were to be seen. Chamoro had tried numerous times over the last week to reach either of them, by telephone, by telegram; he even went to the Presidential Palace only to be told that by the staff that the President was nowhere to be found. The Opposition benches were similarly devoid of members – rumor had it that some of the Opposition members had left the capital and were stirring up troubles in the provinces. It had been like this for weeks now; there was not a quorum to even conduct the most routine business.

Suddenly the doors to the chamber were flung open to admit Lieutenant General Manuel Arturo Odría Amoretti, chief of staff of the Army; and he was not alone. At his back were soldiers of the Legión Peruana de la Guardia – the troops responsible for security of the President and the Government; Chamoro was certain of what was to follow but steeled himself nevertheless.

Standing, he raised his voice and spoke, “General Odría! What is the meaning of this intrusion? This is the chamber of the representatives of the people – not a barracks into which a soldier may swagger!”

Odría responded quietly, respectfully, but firmly.

“Mister President,” he began, “For more than forty days the Government has failed to govern and Parliament has taken no action. Neither President Galvez nor Prime Minister Baylon have been seen for more than two weeks, and it must be presumed that they have fled the country. The Peruvian people will not accept a Government that will not govern and leaders who absent themselves without explanation. The nation is adrift, and public order is threatened on every side.”

Chamoro stoically listened; there was a ring of truth in what Odría was saying. For his part, Odría continued forward and took the rostrum normally reserved for the Prime Minister, and addressed those in the chamber.

“In order to assure the continuation of public order and the functioning of the machinery of government the National Military Council deems it necessary to dissolve this body and declare the office of the president vacant. A state of emergency is hereby declared. Once they can be organized fair and free elections will be held to elect a civilian government according to the will of the people. Members of Parliament are free to depart without let or hindrance, though they are cautioned that any attempt to disrupt public order will be dealt with swiftly.”

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Friday, February 3rd 2017, 11:07pm

Lima, The American Embassy, 23 April 1945

William Pawley, the incoming ambassador of the United States, sat in his office reading the reports of the embassy staff, preparing himself for the interview that would come that afternoon when he presented his credentials. Campbell, his predecessor, had been recalled to Washington only days before the coup – no, the pronunciamiento, that had brought Odría and the military to power, and the charge d’affairs had kept his dealings to the strictly necessary, pending Pawley’s arrival; the presumption being that the new head of the mission would know how the White House wanted the situation handled.

The trouble was, the President was not exactly certain of what to do himself, and Pawley’s instructions were minimal – maintain American interests, keep Peru out of the clutches of the Iberians, and make certain that Peru did not fall back into civil war as it had a decade before. What his reports told him was that General Odría appeared to have a great deal of public support; and still no one knew what had happened to Galvez and Baylon. It seemed that with the suspension of the Parliament many new organs of government were coming into being – the formation of a Commissariat for Internal Affairs, to control the nation’s police forces – struck him as ominous, but the Ministry of Health and Social Services, together with the Ministry of Employment and Social Security seemed to put teeth into the Odría regime’s promises to address the basic needs of the Peruvian peasantry.

There was a knock at the door. “It is time Mister Ambassador,” announced his private secretary.

**********

Four hours later Pawley was back at his desk, drafting a precis of his first meeting with Odría. It had gone better than he had anticipated; the Peruvian leader had made it clear that the cause for his actions to take the reins of government was the failure of his predecessors to address the real needs of the Peruvian people. While reiterating, on several occasions, that Peru belong to its people, he was not opposed to foreign investment in principle.

That was a sticking point. Odría made it clear that Peru’s mineral wealth would be exploited for the good of Peru, and that nationalization of foreign concessions was in the cards. These would, however, be negotiated, with provision for compensation, though more on Peruvian terms than that of foreigners. Odría had alluded to the Mexican seizure of foreign oil properties back in the 1930s, saying “Cárdenas failed to realize how important a continuing relationship with creditors is; we have learned from his mistake.

Odría had inquired whether the United States might be willing to use its good offices to help resolve the lingering tensions in the region of Loreto, where the memories of the border dispute with Colombia were fresh. Pawley had agreed to raise the question in Washington, as easing of transport difficulties on the upper Amazon would permit American firms to fill potential orders for construction equipment and building materials desired by Peru to open up the vast potential of the region. The commerce attaché had already prepared a summary of the most immediate Peruvian needs, and Pawley attached it to his report.

On the whole, Pawley felt that Odría could be dealt with. Populist perhaps; Nationalist certainly; Realist beyond doubt.

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Saturday, February 4th 2017, 1:06am

El Comercio (Lima), 18 June 1945

Acting Head of State General Odría Amoretti, Minister of Transport and Communications Víctor Raúl Haya de la Torre, and Chairman of the State Committee for Economic Development Colonel Nicolás Lindley López officiated today at the commencement of construction of Ruta Nacional 001, an all-weather highway that will link Lima with the cities of the north and the cities of the south, and traverse the entire length of the nation. Today saw work details of the Cuerpo de Ingeniería begin grading the road north to the city of Ancash. Tomorrow, crews will begin work on the southern half of the highway – with Ica as its first destination. Later this month local crews will commence work at various points along the route to speed construction of this most vital piece of infrastructure.

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Saturday, February 4th 2017, 5:17pm

So, here's a question... what happened to Baylon? Up until this point he's been a highly-effective and well-respected leader; so for him to disappear for over two weeks definitely indicates either declining health or malice aforethought by the Odrists...

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Saturday, February 4th 2017, 5:29pm

It was all too much for him so he was pushed jumped off a bridge. :)

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Saturday, February 4th 2017, 5:38pm

Well, but Peru burned all their bridges.

Sorry Bruce, I couldn't resist!

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Saturday, February 4th 2017, 5:51pm

I disagree. Looking at the Peruvian encyclopedia, there are still plenty of bridges up, made by companies such as Aichi and Fokker. If they had indeed burned all their bridges, then they would not have all that recent foreign stuff. *looks at plans to sell a few Type 8 rifles to Peru* :)

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Saturday, February 4th 2017, 6:06pm

I disagree.

Everybody's a critic! :P

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Saturday, February 4th 2017, 8:08pm

It will be fun to see if this ends up in the Ochenio.

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Sunday, February 5th 2017, 2:58pm

Clinique Bois-Cerf, Lausanne, Switzerland, 20 July 1945

Denis De Rougemont followed the doctor down the hall on the last leg of a long journey. Months ago, while visiting Peru on behalf of his paper, L’Impartial, he had heard a rumor pertaining to a burning political question, “Where is Orlando Baylon?”

The former prime minister of Peru and well-respected internationalist had disappeared earlier in the year, leading to a political crisis in that country that had been only partially resolved by the assumption of power by the military. At a café in Callao an informant had confided that Baylon had left the country in secret for reasons of health; when De Rougemont had pressed for more information his contact could offer little, save that Baylon was believed to have gone to Europe. Before returning home De Rougemont had dug for what he could find, uncovering clues that suggested some veracity to these rumors.

Running them down had taken much time, but a chance meeting in Lausanne had brought him to the Clinique Bois-Cerf, a well-known, well-respected, private hospital. There he had, at first, been greeted with the bland admission that yes, Baylon was a patient, but could see no visitor; and no, the staff could not discuss anything regarding the reason why Baylon had come or what the nature of his illness might be. De Rougemont had been persistent, asking for the opportunity to obtain the answer to the question that burned bright in the minds of politicians across a continent. Finally, his chance had come.

The doctor stopped at the door of a private ward and spoke. “I reiterate – no more than ten minutes.” De Rougemont nodded assent. The doctor opened the door to reveal a gaunt and frail-looking Baylon laying on a bed, a nurse sitting quietly to the side of the room in case of emergency. The patient looked to be asleep and De Rougemont looked to the doctor inquiringly.

“He arrived in early January,” the physician explained. “Our diagnosis confirmed he was suffering from lung cancer, and it had reached an advanced stage. We had hoped that a single surgery might remove all the infected tissue, but this proved impossible. A second surgery was performed in March, which left Monsieur Baylon much weakened. His post-surgical treatments continue…”

De Rougemont asked, “After four months?”

The doctor sighed quietly. “He is responding, but slowly… and the prognosis is not too favorable.”

Baylon moved, reacting to the voices in the room. “Who is there?” he said weakly.

“I have brought a visitor,” the doctor explained. “He wishes but a few moments of your time.”

De Rougemont introduced himself, and with as much delicacy as he could muster explained why he had sought out the Peruvian leader, touching as little as possible on the political situation in his homeland.

“I know what has happened in my country,” Baylon acknowledged, “my doctors have not kept me from the facts. I had hoped that might condition was better than it proved to be, and once in their hands they acted quickly to save my life; though my absence brought down my government. Galvez should have acted to replace me; why he did not, I do not know.”

De Rougemont inquired if Baylon was aware of the current situation in Peru.

“The doctors do not tell me everything, but yes, I know that Odría has taken charge. He is an honorable man – not like Diaz. Of course I detest the military taking control of the government, but if Odría has promised elections, I believe that they will be held. I doubt very much I will return to the hall of parliament, but I hope one day – if my doctors permit – to return to my country.”

The doctor laid a hand on De Rougemont’s shoulder. “It is time,” he said.

The journalist took his leave of Baylon, his mind whirling about writing a story that would grab headlines around the world. He could now answer the question everyone was asking.

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Sunday, February 5th 2017, 6:01pm

El Comercio (Lima), 29 July 1945

At today’s formal dedication of the new headquarters building of the Air Force Minister of Defense Zenon Noriega Aquero unveiled two specially-commissioned works of art commemorating the exploits of Peruvian military flyers. A representation of the recently retired Caproni 310 recalled the activities of Captain Alfredo Salazar Southwell, who led his squadron in many missions against Bolivian opponents in the Andean War and who lost his life in a tragic flying accident in 1937. A large mural, visible immediately upon entering the building, depicts the heroic action of Captain José Abelardo Quiñones Gonzáles, who chose to make the supreme sacrifice by crashing his damaged aircraft onto a Colombian antiaircraft position during the conflict in Loreto. These powerful reminders of the sacrifices made by their predecessors will inspire generations of Peruvian aviators for years to come.


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Sunday, February 5th 2017, 7:39pm

Lima, The American Embassy, 15 August 1945

William Pawley sat in his bedroom, bringing his diary up to date before retiring for the night.

“The Peruvians have finally pulled the plug on negotiations and issued their nationalization decree. No one is entirely happy about it – but Standard Oil should have accepted Odría’s last offer – now they will receive nothing, and Washington will not be going to bat for them. The head of Cerro de Pasco Copper came to see me today to demand that Washington impose sanctions; told him he should have settled – their profits over the last twenty years have been enormous. Our friends in London and Paris at least had the good sense to accept Peruvian bonds in exchange for their shares. It will take a while, but if the Peruvians stick to their guns I believe they will win.”

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Monday, February 6th 2017, 2:27pm

El Comercio (Lima), 12 October 1945

Minister of Transport and Communications Víctor Raúl Haya de la Torre today unveiled a comprehensive plan for road construction across the country.

In addition to Ruta Nacional 001 or Longitudinal de la costa, the coastal highway presently under construction, the Government plans future work on a north-south highway through the mountainous spine of the nation, the Longitudinal de la Sierra, which eventually will link Piura in the north with Puno in the south – a distance of more than 3,500 kilometers. It also proposes to creation of a north-south highway along the far side of the Andes, the Longitudinal de la Selva, to link Cajamarca with Puerto Pardo. A network of transverse roads linking the coastal zone with the mountains and the jungles of the Amazon basin is also contemplated. The project will require years, if not decades, for completion, but attests to the determination of the Government to improve communications and foster economic development in all parts of the nation.

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Monday, February 6th 2017, 3:41pm

Longitudinal de la costa[/i], the coastal highway presently under construction, the Government plans future work on a north-south highway through the mountainous spine of the nation, the Longitudinal de la Sierra, which eventually will link Piura in the north with Puno in the south...

Looks like this is the historical Highway 3?

For the Longitudinal de la Selva, Google found me two different towns named "Puerto Pardo" in Peru, neither of which was of any geographic consequence whatsoever (one seems to be in the middle of the forest in the Peruvian northwest, while the other's down near Puerto Maldonado). are you sure that the name is correct?

As a side comment, Chile's currently building/upgrading their Ruta 5, which is the highway which connects to your Ruta Nacional 001 at the Arica-Tacna border.

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Monday, February 6th 2017, 3:49pm

Quoted

Looks like this is the historical Highway 3?

Eyup!

And the other is the historical Highway 5. Now I found the description here and took the destination off the map. Puerto Maldonado is the likelier terminus - but that will need a bit more research.

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Monday, February 6th 2017, 4:24pm

Okay, I kinda wondered if it was Highway 5, but Googlemaps was confusing me on that point, particularly since I couldn't figure out which Puerto Pardo was relevant.

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Monday, February 6th 2017, 6:08pm

Ministerio de Defensa Nacional Communique No.87-45, 20 October 1945

Unidad Militar de Asentamiento Rural No.1 was activated today at Rimac, and will depart Monday for Requena in Loreto.

(The first of many to come, the UMAR (Military Rural Settlement Unit) comprises twenty-five military and civilian personnel including doctors, educators, construction workers, and agricultural specialists that will work with local authorities to establish schools, clinics, and basic infrastructure, as well as introducing new crops and improved agricultural methods to support rural development.)

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Wednesday, February 8th 2017, 8:41pm

La Voz de la Selva (Iquitos), 2 November 1945

The motor cargo ship Beatriz arrived in the city’s port today. Her lading comprised a wide variety of merchandise consigned to the city’s merchant houses including; 1,420 bundles of cloth, 343 cases of hardware, 1,692 steel bars, 750 casks and 5,637 packages of nails, 400 drums of cement, 100 bundles of wire, 400 steel sheets, 1,100 bags of salt, 80 tons of coal, 210 drums of motor oil, and 630 bundles of wire. She is expected to remain here for the next week, offloading her cargo and taking on a lading of timber, hides, and latex for trans-shipment at Manaus.

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Wednesday, February 8th 2017, 10:05pm

What? No mention of all those brand new 18th century muskets and ammunition being offloaded? :)

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Saturday, February 11th 2017, 1:58am

Huatasani, Huancané Province, Puno, 23 December 1945

The waters of Lake Titicaca glistened in the distance as the rays of the morning sun touched its surface. For the villagers gathered for mass in the small church the Advent season had brought a special gift. Soldiers had come from Puno – some as far away as Lima, the capital, it was said – to construct a clinic, where a doctor would tend to the ills of those suffering from disease or injury. Heretofore the nearest doctor was in Huancané, several day’s journey by foot. Now, it was said, a doctor would reside there, once a building was constructed. There were stories that one of the old church buildings would also be refurbished, and a school founded, so that the little ones might be educated. Most of the villagers wondered what that meant – few of the mountain peasants had ever seen a book. After mass a small knot of villagers gathered in front of the alcalde’s office, which sported a new sign – but none could understand its meaning…

UNIDAD MILITAR DE
ASENTAMIENTO RURAL
NO.9