97. Memorandum of conversation, November 24, between Rusk and Ambassador Plaza1

[Facsimile Page 1]


  • Attitudes and Needs of the New Government of Ecuador


  • The Secretary
  • Ambassador Galo Plaza, Special Representative of the President of Ecuador
  • Eduardo Arosemena, Ecuadorean Chargé d’Affaires ad interim
  • Taylor Belcher, WST
  • John T. Dreyfuss, WST/E

Ambassador Plaza said that he had been asked by President Carlos Julio Arosemena of Ecuador to visit the United States on a special mission to explain to our officials and to the press of this country the attitudes and aims of the new government. Pointing out that his own pro-U.S., anti-Communist position was well known to us, Ambassador Plaza assured the Secretary that he would never have accepted the special mission President Arosemena had asked him to undertake unless he had been assured in his own mind that the new government was not extremist and on the contrary had every intention of living up to the commitments of the Alliance for Progress by engaging in self-help measures. In expanding on this theme, Ambassador Plaza remarked on the moderate cabinet chosen by President Arosemena, and on recent developments in establishment of a progressive inheritance tax and pending progressive income tax legislation. He said also that President Arosemena had taken immediate steps to reduce government expenditures and improve the administrative processes in Ecuador in order to help alleviate the present budgetary difficulties caused by the fiscal mistakes of the Velasco Government. In this respect, Ambassador Plaza said that Ecuador is urgently in need of assistance both in the fields of budgetary support and for social and economic development. He pointed out, however, that President Arosemena knows that he cannot expect the United States to solve all of Ecuador’s problems with loans and that he is determined to carry the main burden through self-help measures, with desired help from the United States adding to and accelerating the effects of the self-help measures.

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Ambassador Plaza said that he had been particularly disturbed by the attitude of the U.S. press towards the succession of Arosemena and that he felt that U.S. [Facsimile Page 2] news media had seriously misinterpreted events and statements by Arosemena. Ambassador Plaza pointed out that in order to maintain a peaceful atmosphere while he organizes and consolidates his administration, President Arosemena must pacify the diverse political elements that supported his assumption of the Presidency, and that his statements on Cuba and the Soviet Union, which in reality are nothing more than a continuation of the previous government’s foreign policy, must at this time be looked at in relation to internal political conditions. Commenting specifically on reaction to President Arosemena’s statement on continuation of relations with Cuba, Ambassador Plaza said that the Velasco Government had not broken relations with Cuba, nor had it officially declared the Cuban Chargé persona non grata. However, Ambassador Plaza revealed, after Arosemena assumed the Presidency, the Cuban Chargé was called in by the Foreign Minister on the express instructions of the President and warned that Ecuador’s position on nonintervention was reciprocal and meant that there would be strong reaction to any Cuban intervention in Ecuadorean internal affairs, with such intervention resulting in expulsion.

The Secretary thanked Ambassador Plaza for his clear exposition of the attitude and aims of the new Ecuadorean government and said that we had indeed been concerned at first over the events in Ecuador and over President Arosemena’s statements and possible orientation. However, we, like Ambassador Plaza, had been encouraged by the Ecuadorean cabinet selections, by President Arosemena’s stated intention to work within the framework of the Alliance for Progress; and, particularly, by Ambassador Plaza’s decision to accept his current special mission. The Secretary indicated to Ambassador Plaza that we are ready to attempt to complement Ecuador’s self-help measures under the Alliance for Progress. The Secretary went on to say, however, that he wished to point out the difficulties that could be caused for us by public statements that could be interpreted as favoring castroism or the extreme left, even if these statements are not matched by unfavorable action. Such statements have a profound effect upon public opinion and on our Congress, upon which we are dependent for the resources that make our economic and technical cooperation possible.

In closing the conversation the Secretary said that he would like to meet with Ambassador Plaza again to hear the Ambassador’s opinions and comments after he had seen other U.S. officials and the representatives of international financing institutions he intended to visit while in Washington.

  1. Attitude and needs of the new Government of Ecuador. Confidential. 2 pp. DOS, Secretary’s Memoranda of Conversation: Lot 65 D 330.