Memorandum by the Ambassador to Ecuador (Scotten), Temporarily in the United States

In my opinion, no attempt should be made to initiate negotiations looking toward permanent rights or a long-term lease for our base in the Galápagos until a change of the administration in Ecuador. This should take place on September 1, next.

The present situation is that the Rio de Janeiro Protocol50 which attempted to settle the Peru–Ecuador boundary dispute51 is extremely unpopular in Ecuador. Both the United States and President Arroyo are, rightly or wrongly, blamed for allegedly having forced this Protocol upon Ecuador. Popular opinion feels that Ecuador has already lost a large part of its territory unjustly and in my opinion President Arroyo would not dare to present Congress with any plan whatsoever which contemplates the extension of our rights to the Galápagos base farther than that stipulated in article II of the draft agreement now under consideration.

It is my feeling that it would be wiser to defer the whole question of acquiring permanent rights in the Galápagos either until the war is over or until its end is very close. The reason I say this is that I believe it will be just as easy to negotiate the agreement at the end of the war as it will at the present time, and furthermore, because I do not believe even our military people can foresee what the conditions of air power, et cetera, will be at the end of the war, which may last, let us say, for four years. At the present time our military do not apparently consider the base at Salinas as essential as they did at the beginning. By the end of the war it may again be considered essential and in this case, the negotiations for the Galápagos base should include the one at Salinas also. Furthermore, the passage of time will allow Ecuadoran feelings regarding the boundary settlement with Peru to cool down and it may be that by then an administration will be in power in Ecuador which would be easier to deal with than the present one or the one immediately succeeding it. I would suggest that this matter should be left somewhat to the discretion of our Embassy at Quito in the sense that whenever in its judgment an administration comes in which is especially friendly to the United States, the negotiations for the Galápagos could immediately be undertaken at that time.

I cannot see that a delay will in any sense hamper our chances of getting post-war rights in the base and it may well be that the price [Page 1062] we will have to pay will be considerably less than should we attempt to negotiate an agreement at this time.

At the present time, Ecuadoran finances are in very good shape due largely to our purchase of strategic materials. At the end of the war, our procurement programs will probably diminish if not cease entirely. This may result in a severe financial and economic crisis in Ecuador which in itself would make our bargaining position as regards price much easier than at present.

It is my thought that whenever an agreement is eventually negotiated, it would facilitate the negotiations for a long-term lease with yearly payments rather than an immediate cash settlement. I say this because an immediate cash settlement would only be of benefit to the party in power at the time it was paid, whereas yearly payments would insure that succeeding administrations receive the benefits therefrom.

My observations set forth above are based entirely upon conditions existing in Ecuador as I see them and have no relation to any reasons of a political or financial character existing in the United States.

Robert M. Scotten
  1. Signed by representatives of the mediating powers as well as by those of Peru and Ecuador; for text, see Department of State Executive Agreement Series No. 288, or 56 Stat. (pt. 2) 1818.
  2. See bracketed note, p. 213.