The Ambassador in Ecuador ( Scotten ) to the Secretary of State
[Received January 4, 1946.]
Sir: With reference to my telegram No. 899 of December 28, 194576 I have the honor to inform the Department that General John L. Homer, accompanied by four officers of the staff of the Caribbean Defense Command, arrived in Quito yesterday for the purpose of discussing with myself and the Ecuadoran authorities, arrangements for the turning over of the Salinas base to Ecuador.
Upon General Homer’s arrival, we had a lengthy discussion in the Embassy which was attended by the Chief of the United States [Page 1035] Aviation Mission, the Assistant Chief, myself and General Homer and his staff. General Homer brought with him a detailed inventory of all the equipment at the Salinas base. He emphasized that the Caribbean Defense Command was desirous of having the base maintained by the Ecuadoran Armed Forces in order that the runways and communications facilities might be made available to the American military airplanes which would pass through in transit between the Canal Zone and our bases in the Galápagos. He explained that while it is the hope of our Air Force to maintain a base at Talara and while our planes will probably utilize the Talara base much more than the runway at Salinas; nevertheless, it is important that the Salinas runways be kept up at all times.
For the reasons set forth above, General Homer stated that he favored turning over to the Ecuadorans free of charge as much equipment as possible to assist them in maintaining the base after it is evacuated by our forces. He stated that at the present time there were nine water distillation plants at Salinas, and that of these, seven are urgently needed at the base in the Galápagos. Two could therefore be left for the Ecuadorans without inconvenience to our own forces. As regards the other equipment on the base, General Homer stated that should it be removed, it would be transported to Panama, which would entail considerable expense to our Government, and under present conditions he felt that after its arrival in Panama it would deteriorate rapidly to a point where it would no longer be of use to the American Armed Forces.
He asked my opinion regarding the advisability of turning over this material to Ecuador free of charge, and I told him that in my despatch No. 3432 of September 10, 194577 to the Department, I had actually recommended that all of the equipment at the base be turned over to Ecuador. I explained that I felt this would not only create a most favorable impression here, but that I felt that unless we did turn over practically the whole equipment it would be difficult, if not impossible for the Ecuadoran Armed Forces to maintain and operate the base after the departure of our troops. General Homer informed me that the Caribbean Defense Command contemplated sending a general officer to Washington within the next few days with a detailed inventory of the equipment and that in view of the fact that I was in agreement with him as to the advisability of turning over practically all of the equipment, this general officer would take up this matter in Washington with a view to securing the necessary authorization. He mentioned [Page 1036] that this question would probably be eventually referred to the division of the Department which is handling surplus property disposal, and he hoped that the Department would give this matter favorable consideration. I repeated to General Homer that his ideas and mine appear to coincide exactly and said that I would urge the Department to do everything possible to see that the base was turned over to the Ecuadorans intact without charge to Ecuador, excepting those first items of equipment which the Caribbean Defense Command desired to transfer to the bases at Galápagos.
In the afternoon General Homer and I called upon the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Defense.78 The date of February 1 was fixed as the definite date upon which the base would be turned over. The Minister for Foreign Affairs said that he had planned to make an official visit to the United States during the month of January, but he would postpone his trip until after the base was actually turned over. Both the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Defense informed General Homer that they were entirely disposed to grant our planes transit rights, and they both expressed the desire to maintain the base and especially the runways in an operating condition in order that our planes might be able to use them. They also expressed the hope that we would assist them to maintain the base by turning over as much equipment as possible. General Homer informed both Ministers that although he was without authorization to commit our Government on this question, he would personally recommend the turning over of this equipment. Both Ministers seemed greatly pleased at this attitude on General Homer’s part. General Homer explained that once a decision is arrived at in Washington as to what material may be turned over, he will return to Ecuador for further discussions of the details with the Ecuadoran Army officers who are designated by the Minister of Defense to receive the equipment, etc. In the course of the conversation with the Minister for Foreign Affairs he informed General Homer and myself that the voluntary turning over of equipment on the part of the United States at Salinas would create a most favorable impression on public opinion in Ecuador and would assist in the Galapagos negotiations.
In view of the general questions of policy set forth above, I venture to reiterate the recommendation in my despatch No. 3432 of September 10, 1945 that all of the equipment at the Salinas base outside of that vitally needed at other American bases be turned over to the Ecuadoran Government with no cost to the latter.