The Ambassador in Ecuador ( Scotten ) to the Secretary of State

No. 1720

Sir: I have the honor to refer to the Department’s confidential telegram No. 534, June 22, 4 p.m., asking me to submit my views regarding the probable attitude of the new Ecuadoran Government towards the question of negotiation for the Galápagos Base.

In reply the Department is advised that the new Government has been in power for such a short time that I have received no indication from any source as to its probable attitude on this matter. However, as the Department has been advised in previous reports, during the first days of the revolution one of the principal criticisms of the Arroyo Government in the various revolutionary manifestations was that Arroyo had sold out Ecuador through the signature of the Protocol of Rio de Janeiro, etc. This indicates that the question of further cession of territory is still a highly dangerous political question for whatever Government is in power and I am forced to the [Page 1064] conclusion that certainly for the time being until the Velasco Ibarra regime feels itself to be considerably firmer than it is at present it would be very loath to cede us permanent rights or long-term rights in the Galápagos unless we were willing to pay such a high price that this Government could justify to the populace such a cession on the basis of value received. For this reason I believe that the initiation of any negotiations must inevitably be delayed until after the constituent assembly meets on August 10.

Answering the Department’s questions specifically, I believe that the present Ecuadoran Government may well bring up in the near future the question of an agreement for the war-time use of the Base. My feeling is that as regards the war-time use of the Base the draft already transmitted by the Embassy together with the revision proposed in the Department’s 430, May 17, 8 p.m.,57 would probably be acceptable to this Government.

Although, as indicated above, I have received no indications of the attitude of this Government, it may be worthwhile to recall that when Velasco Ibarra was in exile in Chile about a year ago he is reported by the press to have made a statement to the effect that if the United States wished to obtain permanent rights in the Galápagos and if he were President of Ecuador he would ask $100,000,000 for these rights.

My feeling is that we should wait until the Ecuadoran Government brings up this question and when it does bring it up I should be authorized to state that in view of the development of air power which has been evidenced by the progress of the war, my Government would prefer to negotiate a long-term lease of the Base or actual acquisition. I could then inquire whether this Government would be interested in such an agreement. Such a query would bring into the open the real attitude of this Government and we could decide upon our course of action based upon our attitude as evidenced in this first conversation.

If the Department agrees with this point of view, I suggest that authority be sent me without delay in order that I may be prepared in advance as to what attitude I should take when this matter arises.

Respectfully yours,

R. M. Scotten
  1. Not printed.