811.24522/7–3144: Telegram

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

650. The Department believes it desirable to conclude, before the Constituent Assembly meets, an agreement for the Galápagos base [Page 1072] for the purpose of formalizing the arrangements under which we are now continuing to use the base. It is important, however, that such an agreement should (1) safeguard adequately our use of the base during the present war; (2) not hamper negotiations for a satisfactory long-term agreement; and (3) not commit us now absolutely to evacuate the base unless a long-term agreement is concluded within live years. In the opinion of the Department the amendments of the Ecuadoran Foreign Minister transmitted in your 753, July 26, do not meet these conditions.

The Department hopes that you will find it possible to conclude the agreement as authorized in the Department’s 62569 except only for possible further modification in Article II as described subsequently in this telegram.

The Department assumes that Ponce’s proposed revision of Article II is designed (a) to permit the negotiation of a new agreement before the end of the five-year period and (b) to make sure that Ecuador retains the right to terminate the present instrument at the end of five years if no new agreement is signed prior to that time. With respect to (a) while it is our belief that the language proposed in the Department’s 625, July 21, does not preclude negotiation of a new agreement during that period, there is no objection to inserting language which will make that point clear. For this purpose, it is suggested that, if the Ecuadorans wish, you propose that Article II read as follows: “This agreement will become effective from the date of its signature. Unless superseded by a new agreement at any time thereafter, it shall remain in force for a period of five years beginning from today, that is until the (inserting appropriate date) of August, 1949, and shall remain in force thereafter unless after full consultation between the two governments either notifies the other government of its intention to terminate the agreement, in which case the agreement will lapse twelve months from the date on which such notice shall have been given”.

With respect to (b), you will observe from the above that this Government strongly prefers the language proposed in its 625, to that suggested by the Foreign Minister, as the latter would automatically terminate the agreement at the end of five years unless a new agreement had previously been signed. Furthermore, Ponce’s language, strictly construed, would not permit negotiation of a new agreement until after the end of the war. In explaining to the Foreign Minister this Government’s preference, you will undoubtedly wish to point out that the language proposed above will permit the [Page 1073] Ecuadoran Government to terminate the agreement at the end of five years if it so desires. The only difference therefore as far as Ecuador’s possible desire to terminate the agreement is concerned, is that it must give formal notice after due consultation. The termination at the end of five years is therefore possible under our suggested draft but is not automatic.

With respect to the other amendments proposed by Ponce you should state that the points involved are such that agreement on them would appear to be impossible before August 10. You should add that your Government realizes that several articles of the present agreement as they stand would need to be modified in a long-term agreement. You should state that you have been instructed to deliver to him at the time of signature of the agreement a note stating that this Government will be prepared to enter upon negotiations for a formal long-term treaty at such time as the Ecuadoran Government may indicate its desire to do so. You may mention orally that the question of appropriate compensation would, of course, be considered in any such negotiations, and that they could cover the Galápagos, Salinas and possibly some form of park or other arrangements for the preservation of wildlife in the Archipelago.

For your own secret use a summary, with appropriate comments, of the maximum and minimum requirements of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is being prepared and will be transmitted to you at the earliest possible moment, together with a draft which could form the basis for negotiations for a long-term agreement.

For your secret information the suggested modifications mentioned in your telegram 753 are impracticable for the following reasons: the first paragraph of Article I would be too restrictive and acceptance of this limitation even in a temporary agreement might seriously handicap later negotiations which would definitely have as their objective obtaining as a minimum a lease on Santa Cruz Island and North Seymour Island, in addition to Baltra (Seymour) Island. Ponce’s proposed addition to Article II providing that all works, installations and equipment shall become the property of Ecuador at the end of five years is too broad to be acceptable. The suggested addition to Article IX is likewise impossible to grant. You will appreciate that this Government cannot withdraw from a base so vital to the defense of the Panama Canal, leaving the base in full operating condition.

The Department hopes that the Foreign Minister has no serious objection to Article X as it now stands since it does not appear practical to attempt to revise the wording of that article and obtain the approval of both parties in the time remaining.

  1. Telegram of July 21, 1944, 7 p.m., not printed. In this telegram the Department suggested that the pending agreement be modified to permit a post-war use of the base until one or the other party gave notice of intent to terminate the agreement. (811.24522/7–2144)