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

Participants: Mr. Spruille Braden
Ambassador Galo Plaza
Mr. Henry Dearborn (NWC)

Ambassador Galo Plaza, at his request, called on Mr. Braden this afternoon, principally for the purpose of discussing the Galápagos Base. The Ambassador stated that since the United States turned Salinas over to Ecuador press editorials had appeared in Quito which indicated that Ecuadoran views with respect to permitting the United States to maintain a Galápagos Base were changing. He said that opinion was becoming more favorable and that some sources were even suggesting that the United States be permitted to have the use of a Galápagos Base free of charge. Referring to the State Department’s “commitments”, the Ambassador stated that he believed that the Department might be able to “get around them”. He suggested that if no remuneration were paid for the Base perhaps the United States, through the Eximbank, could, in extending Ecuador a loan which should be repaid, make the terms such that Ecuador could begin payment after that country got “on its feet.” To Mr. Braden’s statement that he understood that Ecuador wanted the United States to legalize its use of the Base or withdraw immediately, the Ambassador replied forcibly that he wanted to make it very clear that his Government did not want the United States to withdraw from the Galápagos but merely desired that the Base there be legalized.

Mr. Braden thanked the Ambassador and said he greatly appreciated this cooperative attitude. He said that although he had been pressing the War and Navy Departments for some statement on the price we would pay for the Galápagos Base, he had not received a satisfactory reply. Mr. Braden stated that he was going to New York within a day or two and that he would take the matter up again upon his return. When Ambassador Plaza suggested that substantial [Page 844] agreement had already been reached on a draft treaty, Mr. Braden replied that he understood there were some difficulties yet to be ironed out. Mr. Dearborn mentioned as two such matters the paragraph inserted by the Ecuadorans to the effect that if the United States ever had to declare Galápagos waters a military zone and curtail fishing there, the United States would pay to Ecuador those funds which Ecuador would have received had normal fishing activities continued. He suggested that another objection was to an article added by the Ecuadorans for the settlement of disagreements arising under the treaty; this article arranged for bringing in a third party. Mr. Braden then suggested that Mr. Wright,22 Mr. Dearborn and the Ambassador talk the treaty over within the next few days to see if points of disagreement could not be taken care of.

Upon his departure the Ambassador left three press clippings from Quito newspapers for the Department’s information regarding the latest Ecuadoran views on the Galápagos Base. He asked that they be returned to him.

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  1. James H. Wright, Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of State for American Republic Affairs.