Memorandum by the Secretary of State to President Roosevelt

On November 15, 1943, you approved the State Department recommendations with regard to the Galápagos Islands.

“(1) that plans be made now to work out at a later date some arrangements satisfactory to the War and Navy Departments, perhaps through inter-American action, and (2) that the agreement already drafted and accepted by both governments be signed without change at once.”

Shortly after the Department received your memorandum38 and before the agreement could be signed, the “Merritt report”39 was [Page 1054] published. The reference in this report to the need for continued use of the Galápagos base by this country after the war caused the Ecuadoran Government to change its mind about signing the agreement as drafted and previously accepted by both Governments. Ecuador has now proposed certain modifications, the principal one being to the effect that the agreement shall remain in force only for the duration of the present world conflict.

The changed circumstances have been discussed with officers of the War and Navy Departments and have been brought to the attention of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who were informed that the present attitude of the Ecuadoran Government appears to necessitate a new approach to the problem.

With their concurrence,40 it is therefore recommended

that this Government take no further initiative with regard to the signing of an agreement, at least until after the Ecuadoran elections in June;
that, if the Ecuadorans should insist upon signing an agreement soon, as now appears most probable, the Ambassador be instructed to negotiate an instrument which would contain as few modifications as possible and would in any case terminate not earlier than six months after the end of the war.

This Department, in cooperation with the War and Navy Departments and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is continuing work on plans for obtaining the permanent use of the Galápagos Islands.

  1. Not printed.
  2. Report of a Special Mission of the Aviation Subcommittee of the House Committee on Military Affairs, 1943. The mission was headed by Matthew J. Merritt. For text of report, see House Reports, 78th Cong. 1st sess., vol. 5, report No. 950.
  3. This concurrence was expressed in a letter from Adm. William D. Leahy to the Secretary of State, February 5, 1944 (not printed).