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

No. 935

Sir: In your Telegram No. 898 of October 13, 1944,74 you stated that you believed the time to be ripe for commencing active negotiations for military bases on Ecuadoran territory. In this connection, the Department, closely collaborating with the War and Navy Departments, and in complete agreement with those Departments, has prepared the enclosed drafts of two bilateral agreements75 (one of which deals with wild life preservation) for simultaneous secret negotiations to be initiated by you with the Republic of Ecuador. You are [Page 1076] requested to proceed with these negotiations immediately unless you perceive some reason for timing your action differently.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff of the War and Navy Departments submitted to the Secretary of State in a letter (copy enclosed) dated July 19, 1944,76 their maximum and minimum military requirements. The enclosed agreement entitled “Cooperation for Defense of the Hemisphere and Mutual Security” provides for obtaining from Ecuador, as you will observe, less than the maximum and somewhat more than the minimum designated by the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Article I names the areas to be leased from Ecuador by the United States. There was some discussion in the Department as to whether or not an effort should be made to lease the whole Galápagos Archipelago, but it was felt that such an effort would be unfavorably received throughout the Western Hemisphere and would probably hinder the Ecuadoran Government in the negotiations. The actual leases referred to in the last paragraph of Article I will be forwarded to you as soon as the base agreement itself has received the approval of both Governments.

If during the negotiations, you find it necessary to give way in one respect in order to obtain an advantage of major importance, you should consult the Department. The features deemed absolutely essential by the War and Navy Departments are (1) the minimum lease appearing in the letter of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; (2) a high degree of control over the bases in the Galápagos Archipelago; (3) the joint surveillance of that part of the Archipelago not leased; (4) restriction on granting rights to third nations as stipulated in Article V; (5) exemption from customs duties and other charges as set forth in Article XII. These points are mentioned for your information so that you will have in mind those provisions of the agreement in respect to which the War and Navy Departments will, in all probability, not approve any modification.

The Department has discussed in confidence the agreement on “Scientific Study, Research and Wild Life Preservation in the Galápagos Archipelago” with a responsible official of the Smithsonian Institution and with the Joint Post War Committee of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The former, in view of the plans which it had developed for a research station in the Archipelago prior to the present world conflict, would doubtless be the “agency” appointed by this Government under Article I; the interest of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is obvious from the context of the agreement.

President Roosevelt has expressed a deep interest in a wild life agreement, and it is hoped that the Ecuadoran Government will approve the consideration of this subject along with the matter of the [Page 1077] bases. It is suggested that in the course of discussions you stress the international prestige which Ecuador would gain by having a station in the Galápagos such as that contemplated by the Smithsonian Institution.

After initiating your discussions with the Government of Ecuador, you are requested to carry forward negotiations as rapidly and as forcefully as sound tactics in your judgment permit. You will, I am certain, keep the Department fully informed concerning the progress of the negotiations and transmit to the Department any suggestions which you deem appropriate.

Very truly yours,

Edward E. Stettinius, Jr.
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