326. Editorial Note

In telegram 923 from Quito, May 22, 1965, the Embassy assessed the internal threat to the junta in Ecuador. Although a change did not appear imminent, the Embassy recommended emphasizing “the imperative of unity” to all factions of the military, while warning opposition leaders that a revolutionary alliance with the Communists would attract the “deep distrust” of the United States. The Embassy also reported that it was encouraging the junta to form a counter-insurgency group “capable of snuffing out initial revolutionary attempts to establish insurgent forces.” (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 23–9 ECUADOR) On July 14 the Department noted that demonstrations had so weakened the junta that plans to hold elections in July 1966 appeared “unrealistic.” To avoid a violent overthrow of the government, the Department suggested that the Embassy urge the junta to “shorten substantially scheduled transfer of power, modify composition significantly, or transfer power to provisional civilian government.” (Telegram 26 to Quito; ibid., POL 15 ECUADOR) The Embassy replied that such interference would not “expedite the process,” since the junta had just announced a new plan to restore constitutional order. Meanwhile, the Embassy reiterated its proposal to support the junta in forming a counter-insurgency group. (Telegram 59 from Quito, July 15; ibid.)

[text not declassified] (Department of INR/IL Historical Files, 303 Committee Files, c. 24, August 26, 1965) The Department countered by citing NSAM 177 (see Foreign Relations, 1961–1963, volume IX, Document 150), which assigned overall responsibility for police assistance programs, including counter-insurgency efforts, to the Agency for International Development. The Department argued that an overt program managed by AID and maintained under the Ecuadorean National Police stood a better chance of surviving the junta. (Memorandum from Vaughn to Thompson, August 16; Department of State, INR/IL Historical Files, 303 Committee Files, c. 24, August 26, 1965)

On August 26 the 303 Committee approved the proposal to support a counter-insurgency group in Ecuador, subject to further clarification of the organizational details. (Memorandum for the record by Jessup, August 27; ibid., c. 25, September 9, 1965) In telegram 221 from Quito, September 6, Coerr explained that, due to growing opposition within the military, “it would be impossible to establish special unit in DGI.” Coerr recommended transferring the unit to the army, although this might pose “a problem in inter-agency relations within USG.”[Page 708](Telegram 221 from Quito, September 6; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 23–3 ECUADOR) On September 9 the 303 Committee decided that the Department of Defense [text not declassified] should “sort out these arrangements and keep the committee informed by phone.” (Memorandum from Carter to Vaughn, September 13; Department of State, INR/IL Historical Files, 303 Committee Special Files, July–December 1965). [text not declassified] (Memorandum from Jessup to Vance, September 10; National Security Council, Special Group/303 Committee Files, Subject Files, Ecuador)