Life in Venezuela – Lighting the Fire

My grandfather is fed up with the way his sons are being treated in Venezuela so he’s decided to do something about it. He shoots off a barrage of

Alfred Duryee Guion

letters to  government officials to light a fire under someone.

April 3, 1939

Mr. S. E. McMillan

American Consul

U.S. Consulate

Caracas, Venezuela

Dear Sir:

Enclosed please find copies of letters written to two officials of the Venezuelan Government, which letters I believe are self-explanatory.

Anything you can do to expedite the straightening out of this mess will be appreciated by an anxious parent.

I will, of course, be glad to supply you with any further details in my power to obtain, if you will let me know what is needed.

My son, Daniel B. Guion, is at present stranded somewhere between Carora and Lake Maracaibo. Another son, Alfred P. Guion, who left New York December 30 in the employ of InterAmerica, Inc. can undoubtedly supply you with further details. He is located at the Hotel Aleman in Caracas.

If you think I ought to start inquiries through our own State Department in this country, please suggest what steps I should take. I am acquainted with some of the higher officials in Washington and might be able to stir up some quick action if you think it advisable. Meanwhile I will rest the matter in your hands.

Your cooperation will be gratefully accepted.

Very sincerely yours,

Alfred D. Guion


Enc. 2

April 3, 1939

Daniel Beck Guion (far right) and workers in Venezuela in 1939

To the Honorable Luis G. Pietri

Minister of the Interior

Caracas, Venezuela

Hon. Sir:

May I ask your indulgence in what may seem to be merely a personal matter?

My only excuse for so doing lies in the fact that InterAmerica, Inc. is apparently insolvent, and that being the case, as they have secured an exemption from making the customary deposit, their American employees are apparently left stranded in the interior of Venezuela without means of support.

May eyesight my son as an example of the conditions applying to other employees of InterAmerica, Inc., Now engaged in road survey work somewhere between Carora and Lake Maracaibo.

Daniel B Guion entered the employ of InterAmerica, Inc. on October 21, 1938. His contract called for a monthly salary plus all expenses. Up to March 31, 1939, a lapse of 5 1/3 months, he has been paid nothing.

I am informed that the labor laws of Venezuela are exceptionally fine and are rigidly enforced, and that your government would not knowingly permit them to be disregarded as they apparently have in this instance.

May I therefore ask for your investigation into the affairs of this company? Your interest will be greatly appreciated.

Very sincerely yours,

Alfred D. Guion


April 3, 1939

Alfred Peabody Guion in Venezuela in 1939

To the Honorable Enrique Aguerrevere

Minister of Public Works

Edificio Espana

Caracas Venezuela

Honorable Sir:

May I ask your aid in behalf of my son, Daniel B Guion, who is employed as transit man by InterAmerica, Inc., and who on October 21, 1938 sailed from New York on the Grace Line to work on a Venezuelan road survey.

The written contract called for the payment of a stipulated salary plus all expenses while in the company’s employee. From that date up to the present time, in spite of repeated promises from the company’s New York office, no salary whatsoever has been paid for his services. On March 31st there was due him on back salary a sum representing 5 1/3 months work.

He informs me that his fellow workers are also unpaid. I have reason to believe the company is insolvent. I know they have frequently been forced to supply their own food.

I feel sure that you would not knowingly permit conditions of this sort to exist, particularly as I learn that the very highest standards are maintained in the management of public works under your direction, and that your labor laws are excellent and are strictly enforced.

Otherwise, I would not presume to bother you with so small a matter from a governmental standpoint, even though it is of serious concern to the individuals concerned.

As I am considerably concerned as to my son’s welfare, any action you may feel warranted to remedy this situation will be much appreciated.

Very sincerely yours,

Alfred D Guion


April 3, 1939

Mesars Solhuster and Feudillo

Edificio Venezuela

Caracas Venezuela

Attention of Mr. Traviero


My two sons Alfred P and Daniel B Guion are, and have for some months, been employed by InterAmerica, Inc. in Venezuela. Up to March 30th when I last heard from them, they have not been paid any salary whatsoever for their services, which in Daniel’s case covers a 5 1/3 months period.

I have been in frequent touch with the New York office of InterAmerica, Inc. and have been able to obtain only in definite promises of payment “sometime in the future”. I have finally decided they are too unreliable to deal with, in fact it looks to me as though the company is insolvent, and there is grave doubt that they will be able to pay even the fair of their employees back to the United States.

As I have been informed that you are legal representative and agent of InterAmerica, Inc. in Venezuela, I am writing to ask if you will inform me definitely what the situation is. It seems only fair that I should take this step rather than start any formal proceedings with the federal authorities in Washington.

Will you please, therefore, write me as to what assurance I can rely upon that my sons will not be left stranded in Venezuela by Mr. Maxudian’s company.

Very sincerely yours,

Alfred D Guion


I’m just a curious as you are to see what happens because I haven’t cheated and read ahead. Do you think his tactics will work? We’ll find out in my next Life in Venezuela post.

I hope your Thanksgiving is as much fun as I expect mine to be. Enjoy your time with family and friends and share some stories.

Judy Guion

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