341. Information Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Oliver) to Secretary of State Rusk 1

SUBJECT

  • President of Ecuador Hopes U.S. Will Appoint New Ambassador

On December 20, Ecuadorean Ambassador Carlos Mantilla told me that President Otto Arosemena is most anxious that a new U.S. Ambassador be appointed soon. According to Mantilla, Arosemena fears that extreme leftists and other political antagonists will seek to build [Page 726]pre-electoral confusion into a situation of disorder, hoping thereby to disrupt or prevent the elections. He believes that during this critical period the presence of a U.S. Ambassador would be a major stabilizing factor as it would signify the restoration of close U.S.-Ecuadorean relations as well as President Johnson’s personal interest in the reestablishment of full constitutional government in Ecuador.

I told Ambassador Mantilla that President Johnson genuinely regards our Ambassadors as his personal representatives, and that he personally decides questions relating to ambassadorial appointments. I opined that Ambassador Coerr probably would have been replaced by now if President Arosemena had not chosen to express his dissatisfaction by formally and publicly requesting the Ambassador’s recall. I said that I was not aware of President Johnson’s plans regarding a successor to Ambassador Coerr nor would it be possible for me to make unsolicited recommendations to the President on this question. I did promise the Ambassador that I would inform you of President Arosemena’s feelings in the matter.

It is clear that the absence of a U.S. Ambassador in Quito is the cause of considerable discomfort to President Arosemena and his political faction. However, there is no convincing evidence that the extreme left has the capability or even the intention of preventing elections, or that the absence of an Ambassador in any way favors the ambitions of this political grouping. The Bureau is watching this situation closely, but at this moment I am not persuaded that our over-all interests would be served by the early replacement of Ambassador Coerr. To the contrary, in view of the insulting manner in which Ambassador Coerr was ejected, I feel that the naming of his replacement in the near future would have a most undesirable effect on the U.S. image in Ecuador and elsewhere in Latin America.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 15–1 ECUADOR. Confidential. Drafted by Kilday on December 21. A notation on the memorandum indicates that Rusk saw it.