Memorandum by President Roosevelt to the Secretary of State
I have your memorandum of February fifth in relation to the Galápagos Islands. I am perfectly willing to postpone the signing of an agreement until the Ecuadoran elections are over, but I wonder if this is not a good time to say something like this to Ecuador:
- These Islands represent the oldest form of animal life and should, therefore, be preserved for all time as a kind of international park, the title of which would remain in the Ecuadoran Government but the operation of which would be (1) in the scientific area run by a committee representing each of the 21 Republics and (2) the policing area which would be run jointly by the United States and Ecuador. I think it would be safe to ask Ecuador to abandon any thought of agriculture or cattle raising in the Islands. This would not amount to anything much anyway.
- To allow Ecuador to conduct mining operations. Some minerals of value may be discovered and the mining of such minerals would not do much to hurt the Islands.
This proposal could well be made by Ecuador at the next Pan American meeting wherever it is held, and it is my thought that Ecuador could be paid an annual rent for the Islands, such rent bringing to Ecuador a little more money than she receives now net out of the Islands. I am certain that the amount is very small because the maintenance of Ecuadoran authority in the Islands must be nearly as great as what she gets from concessions or taxes.
From the point of view of Ecuador itself, I think such a proposal should come from Ecuador. Under it Ecuador would retain her sovereignty, and the policing by the United States and Ecuador ought [Page 1056] to give adequate opportunity to use the Islands for the protection of the whole Continent of South America and the Panama Canal.