Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. Henry Dearborn of the Division of North and West Coast Affairs

Participants: Ambassador Galo Plaza, Ambassador of Ecuador
Mr. Braden, Assistant Secretary of State
Mr. Wright, A–Br67
Mr. Dearborn, NWC

Ambassador Plaza called on Mr. Braden this afternoon at the Ambassador’s request, to discuss among other matters (see separate memorandum), the Galápagos Base matter.

He stated that since a special session of the Ecuadoran National Assembly was to meet on December 1, 1945, he wished to have something definite to tell his Government about the Galápagos Base treaty by that time. He considered that the political situation would be difficult and he hoped that the United States would immediately come to some decision as to the price it would be willing to pay for the Base. Mr. Dearborn replied that the War and Navy Departments had been asked how much they would be willing to pay for the Galápagos Base but that they had not answered the inquiry; he added that he expected that some answer would be forthcoming before December 1st. Mr. Braden said that the Department should insist on getting something from War and Navy immediately.

Ambassador Plaza then summed up roughly the negotiations since October of 1944. His main point was that the loan from the Eximbank which Ecuador needed very badly had been held up by the Department’s decision not to talk about a loan until some agreement had been reached on allowing the United States to use a base in the Galapagos. He said that Ecuador was not even thinking of the Galapagos Base in terms of money until Mr. Armour68 had, in the Fall of 1944, connected that matter with the Eximbank loan.* After that, he continued, Ecuador began to think of receiving a payment [Page 1030] from the United States. Since the Estrada mission sought a loan of $20,000,000 and since later Mr. Rockefeller’s letter69 covering the aide-mémoire of September 1, 1945 mentioned $20,000,000, the Ecuadoran people began to think of the base in terms of that sum. Ambassador Plaza said that he returned to Ecuador in August 1945 encouraged to believe that he could talk to his Government and people in terms of twenty million dollars.

Mr. Braden thereupon emphasized that this Government had never made any commitment as to the amount which it would pay for the use of a Galápagos base and he thought it would simplify matters if the treaty and loan could be separated so that they would not be thought of together and so Ecuador could deal with the loan without reference to the treaty. Ambassador Plaza agreed that no commitment had been made as to the amount to be paid for the base and said that the separation of the treaty and the loan was just what he wanted and had always wanted. He pointed out that while Ecuador would have immediate use of $1,000,000 for survey purposes under the aide-mémoire of September 1, that country would like to go ahead and use credit for construction purposes as well, especially in the completion of projects already begun, Mr. Braden replied that Mr. Wright and Mr. Dearborn would discuss the separation of the treaty and loan with the Bank immediately.

Upon his departure Ambassador Plaza remarked that if the reply received from the War and Navy Departments named a sum which was “chicken feed” as a payment for the base, it would be better not to let him know about it and to imagine that no reply had been received.

  1. James H. Wright, Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of State for American Republic Affairs (Braden).
  2. Norman Armour, at the time Acting Director of the Office of American Republic Affairs.
  3. This statement is misleading. Ecuador may not have thought of receiving payment for the wartime use of the base, but there was never any thought on the part of Ecuador of allowing peacetime use of the base by use [us?] without compensation. [Footnote in the original.]
  4. Letter of August 7, 1945, to Ambassador Galo Plaza (not printed) transmitting text of the proposed aide-mémoire.