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

SUBJECT

  • Ecuador

Last Saturday President Arosemena reshuffled his cabinet. He dropped Foreign Minister Julio Prado, the architect of his Punta del [Page 728]Este posture and the ouster of Ambassador Coerr. In his place he appointed Gustavo Larrea, until recently Ambassador in Washington.

Because Larrea is such a good friend of the United States, this is obviously intended as a conciliatory gesture toward us. In return, Arosemena Covey Oliver about the impending cabinet changes.

Other indications of Arosemena’s desire to kiss-and-make-up Prior to elections (June 2) and transfer of power (September 1) are:

1.
his reasonably cooperative and conciliatory attitude on the joint review of their complaints about the AID program;
2.
no attacks on the Alliance since September 1967;
3.
the prompt release without publicity of a US tuna boat seized by an Ecuadorean frigate last week.

Our Chargé in Quito recommends that we respond favorably to these conciliatory actions, short of sending a new Ambassador until after the June elections. Among the things he suggests are:

1.
let it be known publicly around April 1 that appointment of a new Ambassador is under active consideration;
2.
resume low-level technical talks on pending loan applications (in the understanding that negotiations would not be completed until termination of Arosemena’s mandate).2

Covey Oliver will be sending you his recommendation on how we might proceed.3 I will withhold judgment until I see what Covey advises. In any event, we should say nothing about consideration of a new Ambassador to Ecuador until you fill the vacancies at Buenos Aires and Montevideo. There are indications that the Argentines and Uruguayans are a little restive on this score. They would take amiss any indication that Ecuador is receiving prior attention

Walt
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Ecuador, Vol. I, 12/63–11/68. Confidential. A notation on the memorandum indicates that the President saw it.
  2. In telegram 3295 from Quito, March 5. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 17 US–ECUADOR)
  3. Not further identified.