328. Memorandum From William G. Bowdler of the National Security Council Staff to President Johnson 1


  • Ecuadorean Crisis

The situation in Ecuador moved back toward normalcy, although there still are a few trouble spots.

[Page 710]

The commercial strike has been called off. Interim President Clemente Yerovi took over at noon and announced a three-point program: prompt elections, austerity to solve the financial crisis, and protection of the “sucre” against devaluation. He has not named his cabinet, although he indicated that it would be broadly representative, including the political parties.

The trouble spots are where communist-led students have seized provincial government buildings in two provinces. Government security forces have cleared them out in one province but have not yet acted in the other. Our Peace Corps volunteers have been threatened by the communists in this province. Ambassador Coerr has personally called the Defense Minister and National Police Chief to request protection of the volunteers.

The question of recognition is pending. It is contingent on whether President Yerovi, in a diplomatic note to be delivered soon, presents his government as a continuation of the former regime or a new one. The lawyers in State say we can play it either way.2

Paradoxically, the change in leadership enhances the chances of having meaningful elections. The military junta had scheduled elections for July, but could not get the political parties to participate. President Yerovi may have to delay elections two or three months beyond July, but he is expected to get full participation.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Ecuador, Vol. I, 12/63–11/68. Confidential. A copy was sent to Bill Moyers. A notation on the memorandum indicates that the President saw it.
  2. According to circular telegram 1935, April 4, the Embassy received a note in which the new government expressed its firm intention to return to constitutional rule. Although the note failed to address the legal question of continuity, the Department saw “no reason [why] we should not continue relations with Ecuador,” pending consultation with other Latin American governments. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 15 ECUADOR) The Department authorized delivery of a note to the Ecuadorian Foreign Ministry on April 12, expressing the desire of the U.S. Government to continue cordial relations. (Circular telegram 1970, April 8; ibid.)