Amy Woods to Jane Addams, January 12, 1925

Arequipa, Peru
January 12 1925

Dear Miss Addams

We are stopping here for five days at an altitude of 10000 feet to become acclimated before going on to Cuzco. It shows the courtesy of the Peruvian government, whose guests we are for our trip to Oroya proved a severe strain for both the men & women delegates, some of whom had to be sent back to the coast by special train before even reaching the top. Miss Baber has been ill with [grippe] almost since the first and Mrs Rohde suffered badly from soroche the mountain sickness so we four are particularly glad to catch our breath here and I think it is safe to report that both are gaining in vigor each day.

We are certainly in the midst of a most interesting development of a country. I am hoping the rest of our journey will prove as illuminating. The Congress as a Congress was an awful bore and the Conferencia Feminista meant little to us as far as the papers were concerned as the proceedings were entirely in Spanish. It gave a splendid opportunity though to watch from the outside, the first [page 2] efforts of the feminine movement out from a most difficult background of tradition. Women who had never appeared in public before spoke with grace and sincerity and the meetings for the full two weeks were well attended 100 to 150 on an average each morning.

Between the absolute political dictatorship of this country and the limitations set by the Pan American Union it was a difficult task to go very far -- and as I see it the country is not yet ready to strike out for political equality or some of the questions which we have already arrived at.

Mrs. Swiggett was very cautious about papers from the United States -- but at last, Miss Baber read hers -- on Pan American Peace and I was asked to speak on the work of women. Our delegation of 15 did not get much from the Congress or contribute much either because of the language barrier but it was a great adventure for the Latin American women and worth while. [page 3]

I met by chance a woman who was interested in peace with the result that we had a little meeting on Christmas day -- about ten present. They asked me to write certain things to you. Dora Mayer -- was the interpreter, an intelligent radical whom the Pan American Women's Executive Committee tried to avoid, a gentle retiring, persistent woman around whom apparently hung some gossip -- she has been a member of the W.I.L. since 1915. Miss Acosta Cárdenas, the only woman lawyer in Lima presided. There was considerable conversation about the difficulty of free speech as a member had recently been arrested & placed in prison for some political expression in opposition to the government. They had received a letter from Miss Courtney in regard to the action of the British Section about the resolution passed in Washington & voted that (the 10 present the most radical wing of the W.I.L.) they were in sympathy with the British Section & felt that a more moderate statement was necessary at the time for Peru. They regretted that the International Board gave so little attention to South America & especially hoped that more about S.A. would appear in the Bulletin.

They voted to work this winter for closer [illegible] with the [page 4] women of Columbia where [illegible] is being developed over the boundary line. They felt nothing could be done between Chile & Peru at present -- at least until the decision had been given out from the United States about Tacna & Arica. Miss [Mayer] came to my house before the meeting & asked that her suggestions be considered ↑I am enclosing those↓. Interchange of students and text books seemed possible to consider.

A second meeting was planned which Miss Baber attended as I was out of the city.

I feel that the Peruvian problem is far too complicated to draw conclusions in three weeks without the language and I should hesitate to advise any form of propaganda work from outside. A sympathetic study of the country I believe is the only wise step. Of course I cannot say anything of the other Republics.

Peru has been so shut off from the world that she has a national provincial egoism. Perhaps the wisest plan would be later a group of four women to tour the countries including one from Europe -- like Marcelle Capy -- who is Latin enough to catch the splendid spirit here, one ↑each↓ from the U.S. -- Mexico & S.A. -- why not Miss Landázuri & Bertha Lutz, and Miss Baber.

[written in top and left margin of page 1] I am interested in getting a scholarship for a Peruvian Teacher in the U.S. for 1 year & have started plans by which women in Lima will pay her passage both ways if [N A] can cover cost while in the states. She speaks both English & Spanish & it would be most worth while. I hope that you are quite well again, Affectionately Amy Woods