338. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow) to President Johnson 1


  • Recall of our Ambassador to Ecuador

Supplementing my note of 12:10 p.m. today,2 these are the steps which Covey Oliver is recommending to Sec. Rusk:

Instruct Ambassador Coerr to leave Quito by 5:35 p.m., October 9, when the 48 hour period expires.
Call in the Ecuadorean Ambassador this afternoon to give him a note saying we will honor the request but expressing regret that [Page 721] Arosemena has taken offense at the free discussion of the successes and failures of the Alliance. (Tab A)3
Release the two notes to the press, together with Coerr’s speech.
Also tell the press that we had planned, before we were aware of the Ecuadorean note, to ask Coerr to come to Washington to work on a study of our long-range relations with Latin America. (This is in fact true. The study is to cover our military relations.)4
Not retaliate against Arosemena by asking for the recall of Ambassador Mantilla.
If asked about continued economic assistance to Ecuador, respond that Ecuador is a member of the Alliance for Progress and loans to Ecuador will continue to be judged by Alliance criteria. (From a practical standpoint this means no assistance because of Ecuadorean nonperformance, unless we decide otherwise.)

I understand that Covey is also recommending to Sec. Rusk that he call you to get your approval on these steps.5 By way of precedents, on two previous occasions Latin American governments have asked our Ambassadors to leave:

  • —by Brazil during the Eisenhower administration, for public criticism of Brazilian coffee policy;6
  • —by Haiti during the Kennedy administration, for alleged plotting against Duvalier.7

The text of the Ecuadorean note is at Tab B.8

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Ecuador, 12/63–11/68. Confidential. Another copy indicates that the memorandum was drafted by Bowdler. (Ibid., Memos to the President, Walt W. Rostow, Vol. 44)
  2. In an October 8 memorandum to the President, Rostow reported Rusk’s decision that “we, as a great power, should not over-react to Arosemena’s childishness,” presumably in reference to a proposal to retaliate by requesting Mantilla’s recall. In forwarding the text of Coerr’s speech, Rostow also commented: “Although I can understand a government being annoyed with an Ambassador that takes up, point by point, arguments made by its President—and even making fun of one—his speech hardly justified being taken as a federal case.” (Ibid., Country File, Ecuador, Vol. I, 12/63–11/68)
  3. The note, Tab A, is attached but not printed. The exchange of notes is in Department of State Bulletin, November 6, 1967, p. 621. A brief account of the Oliver–Mantilla meeting is in telegram 50652 to Quito, October 8. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 17 US–ECUADOR)
  4. As instructed in telegram 50568 to Buenos Aires, October 7. (Ibid., AID(AFP))
  5. Rusk approved these recommendations “on his own responsibility,” asking only that Rostow so inform the President. (Memorandum from Rostow to the President, October 8; Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Ecuador, Vol. I, 12/63–11/68)
  6. On December 3, 1954, the White House announced the resignation of James S. Kemper, U.S. Ambassador to Brazil; Kemper became the source of controversy by predicting an imminent fall in the price of coffee.
  7. On June 14, 1963, the Government of Haiti requested the recall of U.S. Ambassador Raymond L. Thurston.
  8. Attached but not printed.