95. Memorandum from McGhee to Woodward, November 91

[Facsimile Page 1]


  • Ecuador: Anatomy of a Revolution

For at least two reasons, I think we would be well served by devoting considerable time and effort to an examination of just what happened in Ecuador and why:

1. If we except the Quadros succession problem, Ecuador represents the first old-style Latin American revolution since the Alliance for [Typeset Page 236] Progress and Punta del Este. It may be a precursor to others which we will encounter and must know how to deal with preventively or after the fact, as implementation of the Alliance progresses. For example, could we have influenced Velasco Ibarra against imposing the retrogressive consumer taxes which apparently sparked the revolution? Since these types of tax counter the spirit of Punta del Este, would efforts to dissuade Velasco have been legitimate preventive diplomacy of the type required if the Alliance is to succeed? What would have been the consequences of our involving ourselves in this matter?

2. The entire episode is obviously closely related to our new emphasis on the internal defense (security) of Latin American states and the corollary requirement that we understand thoroughly the social forces and tensions which can imperil constitutional order and evolutionary progress.

I doubt that the Washington Assessment Team now preparing to survey the internal security situation in South America is [Facsimile Page 2] equipped to make this study. I think ARA should take the lead, therefore, and draw on INR and other resources as required. What I would like to see would be an end product which would examine in depth the forces called into play in this revolution and explain, among other things, why the Army supported Callegos and the Air Force favored Arosemena. I cannot help but believe that an anatomy of this revolution—which would, as far as I can recollect, represent the first exercise of this type—reveal things that would stand us in good stead in preventing or handling similar type of social dissidence in the future.

cc: S/O—Mr. Achilles

INR—Mr. Hilsman/Mr. Evans

White House—Mr. Goodwin

  1. Anatomy of the revolution in Ecuador. Secret. 2 pp. WNRC, RG 59, S/P Files: Lot 67 D 548, Ecuador.