Memorandum by Mr. Henry Dearborn of the Division of North and West Coast Affairs2


This afternoon I attended for a short time the State-War-Navy Coordinating Committee meeting in Mr. Dunn’s3 office. During the time that I was there the Committee was considering the recommendation of its subcommittee on Latin America that the State Department be authorized to negotiate with Ecuador for joint rights in a Galapagos Base, paying maintenance costs as a maximum. The War Department made two recommendations which were accepted:

that the State Department should conduct negotiations within the maximum desired (exclusive rights) and the minimum acceptable (joint rights) as outlined by the Joint Chiefs of Staff in JCS 570/40.4
that to the extent that the State Department offers in return for those rights the payment by this Government of the cost of maintenance of United States facilities, such offer should be restricted to such maintenance as the United States considers necessary for the security of the Galápagos Islands and/or the United States.

The reason for the second recommendation was that the War Department feared that the Ecuadorans might try to have us engage in building projects not of any interest to us.

I took the opportunity to tell the Committee that in view of the vast difference between the twenty million dollars which the Ecuadorans expect for our continued presence in the Galápagos and the payment we were about to offer them, we should be prepared for anything as soon as we make this offer, including an official request that we depart. I pointed out that Galo Plaza5 had told us not to bother to tell him if we were going to offer “chickenfeed” and that the Ecuadoran President6 was recently reported to favor leaving us in the Base [Page 837] without agreement, with all that this implied, if we were not prepared to pay a substantial amount. I went on to explain that Ecuador was a poverty stricken country which had long counted on money received as rental on the Galápagos to pull it out of its economic doldrums and that the Ecuadorans expect to amortize a large ($20,000,000) Exim-bank loan with the proceeds of what we pay them for the use of a Galápagos Base. In view of this background, I reiterated, we should not be surprised if the Ecuadorans refuse to talk further about permitting us to use a Base or if they ask us to withdraw from the one we now operate.

  1. Addressed to NWC: Mr. Flack, and to ARA: Mr. Briggs.
  2. James Clement Dunn, Assistant Secretary of State.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Ecuadoran Ambassador in the United States.
  5. José Maria Velasco Ibana.