Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. Edgar L. McGinnis, Jr., of the Office of South American Affairs


Subject: Proposed Negotiations with Ecuador for Participation in Common Defense Plan as provided by the Mutual Security Act1

Participants: Dr. Alfonso Moscoso—Minister-Counselor, Ecuadoran Embassy
Mr. Bernbaum2OSA
Mr. McGinnis—OSA

Mr. Bernbaum said that he had called Dr. Moscoso in to tell him that the American Ambassador at Quito had been instructed to discuss; with the Ecuadoran Foreign Office the possible negotiation of a bilateral [Page 1413] military assistance agreement involving the preparation of Ecuadoran armed units for hemisphere defense missions with the assistance of grant aid from the US under the Mutual Security Act. He said that, if Ecuador expressed a willingness to negotiate with the US respecting specific detailed arrangements, a military negotiating team would be sent from this country to Ecuador to assist Ambassador Daniels in negotiations with the Ecuadoran Government. Mr. Bernbaum said that a general bilateral agreement between the two countries was contemplated which would provide for the cooperation of the two countries in carrying out the defense tasks assigned in the Common Defense Scheme3 and the General Military Plan4 worked out by the Inter-American Defense Board. He added that these plans are closely tied to the provisions of the Rio Treaty.5 The monies provided by the Mutual Security Act would be employed by the US in assisting certain Latin American countries, including Ecuador, to put their military forces on a basis upon which they could make a contribution to the common defense.6

Dr. Moscoso thanked Mr. Bernbaum for this information and said that the idea sounded desirable to him and that the Embassy would shortly forward a communication to the Foreign Office in the matter. The Minister-Counselor asserted that his own conception of the best plan for the defense of the Americas was the formation of a continental army. He stated that, while there were many political obstacles to the formation of a continental army, he believed that in the long run it would be possible and cited efforts being made in Europe along the same lines. As an example of the political difficulties in working out [Page 1414] such arrangements, he mentioned the historical differences between Peru and Ecuador and Chile and Argentina.

Mr. Bernbaum said in conclusion that the information he had imparted was confidential, but that once the military team reaches Ecuador it will probably be necessary to make some kind of public announcement and that in the long run the bilateral agreement would become public.7

  1. For text of the Mutual Security Act (Public Law 165), approved October 10, 1951, see 65 Stat. 373.
  2. Maurice M. Bernbaum, Officer in Charge, North and West Coast Affairs, Office of South American Affairs.
  3. Reference is to the Common Defense Scheme for the American Continent, approved by the Inter-American Defense Board (IADB), October 27, 1950, and the Department of State, January 15, 1951; for information, see Secretary of Defense Marshall’s letter to Secretary Acheson, December 16, 1950, Foreign Relations, 1950, vol. i, p. 679.
  4. Reference is to the General Military Plan for the Defense of the American Continent, approved by the Inter-American Defense Board, November 15, 1951; for information, see the editorial note, p. 1028.
  5. For text of the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (Rio Treaty), opened for signature at Rio de Janeiro, September, 1947, and entered into force for the United States, December 3, 1948, see TIAS No. 1838, or 62 Stat. (pt. 2) 1681.
  6. In despatch 940, from Quito, dated June 7, 1951, Ambassador Daniels stated in part the following:

    “The desire on the part of the United States that the military establishment of Ecuador be developed primarily with a view to performing definite missions falling within a general defense plan and deemed vital to the collective defense of the Hemisphere is most logical. At the same time, it must be recognized realistically that the mentality of the Ecuadoran public at large, as well as the army, navy and air forces, has been conditioned over the years by the recurrent threat or fear of Peruvian aggression. Armaments in Ecuador are thought of as primarily a protection against Peru, which can hardly be considered an objective falling within the broader policies advocated by the Department. Accordingly it is important that everything possible be done to minimize this suspicion and latent hostility between the governments and peoples of Ecuador and Peru, if the Military Security Program is to proceed on an efficient basis consistent with U.S. policy.” (722.5/6–751)

  7. In telegram 234, from Quito, December 18, 1951, Ambassador Daniels informed the Secretary of State that Ecuador desired to enter into conversations aimed at reaching a bilateral military assistance agreement (722.5–MSP/12–1851), and the Ecuadoran Foreign Minister (Neftalí Ponce) confirmed this acceptance in a letter to Ambassador Daniels dated December 22, 1951 (722.5–MSP/12–2751). The proposed conversations were scheduled for mid-January.