033.1110 Wallace, Henry A./289

The Chargé in Ecuador (Nester) to the Secretary of State

No. 4498

Sir: I have the honor to quote below for the Department’s information a memorandum prepared at my request by Mr. Henry F. Vicinus, press officer attached to this Embassy.

“Pursuant to verbal instructions, the following reports a temporary trend in the attitude of the newspapers of Ecuador:

  • “(a) Immediately prior to the visit of Vice President Wallace, the United States missions and other interests in Ecuador were subjected to violent and frequent attacks.
  • “(b) Immediately upon the arrival of the Vice President, these attacks stopped completely and the attitude of the Ecuadoran press was everything that could be desired.
  • “(c) Since the first of May, there has been a tendency to drift back to the previous fractious attitude.

“This trend is obviously due to two causes, both related to the visit of Vice President Wallace.

“1. Newspapers here took the attitude that they could benefit by the visit of the Vice President by presenting their story and that of the nation in as bad a light as possible. An example is the newsprint situation: You will recall that both El Día and El Comercio threatened to discontinue, though it was known that they had not made proper applications for paper and that considerable paper existed in the country. El Día did suspend during the Wallace visit but continued afterwards.

“Consistent with this general contrary attitude, all newspapers refused almost unanimously to publish the ‘cleared’ releases of the Servicio Informativo, spread rumors about the injustice of the priorities system, published stories about the unnecessary goods being shipped from the U. S., which stories were largely inaccurate, published obviously ‘planted’ and inaccurate stories about the BEW’s36 balsa program, etc., etc.

“After the Wallace visit, of course, there was nothing to be gained by such an attitude, and it was abandoned.

“2. Of considerable importance during the Wallace visit were the remarks and interviews by Mr. Hector Lazo. He spoke directly from the shoulder, promised nothing but hardship ahead, and gave a clear picture of the reasonableness of the Allies’ economic war.

“These remarks were infinitely helpful. In conversations with numerous newspapermen following the Lazo talks, everyone expressed a sensible and patriotic reaction except two of the most important editors of El Comercio and Ultimas Noticias. At the [Page 75] same time, Carlos and Jorge Mantilla, editor and business manager respectively of these two papers, were casual but not unfavorable toward the Lazo statements. The attitude of the two editors has never appeared in the news columns of the two papers mentioned, indicating that the editors had not had time to receive instructions from the Mantillas at the time I talked to them. There is no doubt that the Lazo talks improved press relations considerably.

“These two factors operated universally among the newspapers of the country, but the trend was most noticeable in El Comercio. The others followed suit. Since the first of May, two stories have appeared in El Telegrafo of Guayaquil attacking the balsa program. Other newspapers have not resumed attacks as pointed as those of El Telegrafo, but their general handling of news, headlines and columns indicates that a complete cycle has been reached in this trend.

“Generally, however, the attitude of the Ecuadoran press is more favorable now than it was before the Wallace visit. No doubt the visit had good effects which can be called permanent.”

Respectfully yours,

Alfred T. Nester
  1. Board of Economic Warfare.