331. Telegram From the Embassy in Ecuador to the Department of State 1
5824. 1. I called yesterday at my initiative on President Arosemena for review of Ecuadorean–U.S. relations Prior to my departure on home leave (mentioning that this leave coordinated with children’s vacation and had been long planned).
2. After congratulating him on political gains he had made as result his performance Punta del Este,2 I pointed out that these gains had been made largely at expense of AID program’s reputation. I pointed out that the program’s degree of success depends largely on its political support by the government and political acceptability to the people, both of which had suffered significantly through the attacks which he had been making, especially since his return from Punta del Este. I said I thought his public statements about the aid program were unbalanced, in that they mentioned nothing good about it, and in some cases erroneous, in that they disregarded pertinent facts.[Page 714]
3. During our discussion Arosemena stuck to his guns, reasserting his declarations about the aid program and giving ground, by tacitly accepting my point of view, in only two respects. When I told him I had been disappointed that he had publicly declared the U.S. was requiring “inadmissible” conditions on the malaria loan, despite the fact that I previously assured him I would take no position on requests until sub-ministerial negotiations had reached either agreement or clear disagreement, he obviously got the point but avoided comment. When I pointed out that he had urgently requested my assistance in signing the primary education loan and then expressed recognition only by publicly disputing whether his or the Yerovi government should get the credit for having eliminated from the loan twenty “humiliating” conditions, he laughed in hearty agreement.
4. He declared he would never accept conditions that we are negotiating in the proposed malaria loan designed to insure that the National Malaria Eradication Service (SNEM) be independent and employ an outside administrator, and he asked why we tried to impose these conditions on him when we had not imposed them on the military junta. He was surprised and interested to learn that these conditions had characterized the successful program that had been started before the military junta assumed power and terminated in 1965.
5. I assured him and he recognized that we are interested in carrying forward the program on Alliance for Progress criteria and with no thought of any period of coldness or retaliation in reaction to his criticisms. He commented that we had authorized two grant projects since his return from Punta del Este and called my attention to the very favorable publicity he had given to the signing of the public safety project agreement.
6. He continued to rant about the performance of the TAMS engineering company under the road construction agreement. When I called his attention to my previous suggestion that he meet personally with TAMS representatives in order to get from them information with which to form a balanced picture of the value of their operations, he said he would meet with them only to kick them physically out of his office.
7. Our conversation being interrupted by his need to meet with his cabinet and chiefs of staff in order to consider the Duran strike situation which had produced some dead and wounded, he suggested that we continue our talk early next week.3
- Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL ECUADOR–US. Secret; Limdis.↩
- According to an April 20 INR report Arosemena received an enthusiastic reception after Punta del Este as “the only Latin American president with the ‘courage to put the US in its place’.” Arosemena’s performance “fed Ecuador’s pride which—apart from Ecuador’s coming in second in a basketball competition in Scranton, Pennsylvania—has had little sustenance in recent years.” (Ibid., ARA/EP/E Files: Lot 70 D 247, POL 15 Arosemena Government)↩
- Arosemena and Coerr held “two strenuous hour-long negotiating sessions” on May 16 and 17, reaching agreement on the wording of the proposed Malaria loan. (Telegram 5909 from Quito, May 17; ibid., Central Files 1967–69, AID(US) 8–5 ECUADOR)↩