344. Discussion Memorandum From the Deputy Director of the Office of Ecuadorean-Peruvian Affairs (Berlin) to the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Oliver)1

SUBJECT

  • Timing of the Arrival in Quito of Ambassador Sessions

Discussion:

You will recall that Embassy Quito recommended in June that the new Ambassador not present credentials to President Arosemena, but that he arrive in Quito and present his credentials at the time of or immediately following the inauguration.2 This office disagreed with that recommendation and argued that the best interests of the United States would be served by the Ambassador’s arrival in Quito before the end of the Arosemena administration.

These opposing recommendations originated in differing judgements over the political future of Arosemena and the relationship to that future of the arrival of a new U.S. Ambassador. Briefly, the Embassy argued that the reelection of Arosemena in 1972 would not be in the interests of the United States and, accordingly, the United States should take no action that would tend to improve Arosemena’s chances for re-election. To send an Ambassador now would amount to reconciliation with Arosemena and, in the judgement of the Embassy, would rehabilitate his image and increase his potential for re-election in 1972 or later. Thus, the United States should not send an Ambassador to present credentials to Arosemena.

We agreed that the arrival of an Ambassador during the Arosemena administration would amount to a reconciliation with Arosemena and we maintained that this is precisely what the U.S. should seek. We judged that Arosemena stands a better than even chance of returning to the Presidency at some point in the future, and we doubted that these odds would be altered substantially by the refusal of the U.S. to effect a reconciliation with him. (Certainly the repeated election of Velasco indicates that the Ecuadorean electorate is not greatly [Page 730]influenced by a candidate’s past relationship with the U.S. or by fears that the U.S. might not find him acceptable.) Thus, in the possibility that Arosemena may well return to the Presidency anyway, we thought it would be wise to effect a reconciliation with him now and thereby to maximize chances of developing a better relationship with him the next time around.

The arguments pro and con that were fairly clear in June have become somewhat obscured with the passage of time and with new developments. Favoring presentation of credentials to President Arosemena are the following new considerations:

a)
President Arosemena’s cooperation with the U.S. on the IBRD fisheries loan question;
b)
Our current efforts to persuade Foreign Minister Larrea to obtain agreement from Velasco Ibarra to meet with the U.S. in a fisheries conference. Our Chargé in Quito believes that Larrea would undertake this mission with greater enthusiasm if he knew the Ambassador were to present his credentials before September 1.

New considerations which tend to argue against presentation of credentials include the following:

a)
The nomination and confirmation of Ambassador Sessions 3 already constitute something of a rapprochement with Arosemena and have been cited by Arosemena as evidence that U.S.-Ecuadorean relations are as good as ever.
b)
The arrival of the Ambassador just before the inauguration, rather than a month or six weeks before the inauguration, would be so obviously designed to put the U.S. blessing on Arosemena that it could displease Velasco and add a minor but unnecessary irritation to the U.S. relationship with him. Our Chargé in Quito thinks it possible that the arrival of the Ambassador now could make Velasco less willing to commit himself to a fisheries conference before he takes office.
c)
The arrival of the Ambassador after the inauguration might betaken by Velasco as a highly complimentary U.S. effort to make a qualitative distinction between him and Arosemena.

Conclusion:

The arguments for and against the arrival of Ambassador Sessions are relatively equal in weight and strength. His arrival would put us on an excellent footing with President Arosemena in the event Arosemena [Page 731]returns to the Presidency, but his nomination and confirmation already have taken the sting out of our previous posture of no Ambassador for Arosemena. His arrival before September 1 might well be an irritant in the relationship with Velasco but this is likely to become insignificant as time passes. Arrival before September 1 might well induce Arosemena to try harder to please us on the fisheries issue, but it might also lead Velasco to a less accommodating position on the same problem.

Recommendation:

Although we no longer see a clear and strong advantage to the U.S. on either side of the issue, we incline to accommodation of President Arosemena and Foreign Minister Larrea. Therefore, we recommend that Ambassador Sessions proceed to Quito to present his credentials to President Arosemena and to attend the inauguration ceremony and that he then return to Washington to arrange his business and personal affairs before departing to take up his post on a permanent basis.4

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, ARA/EP/E Files, 1968: Lot 70 D 478, Personal Mail. Confidential. A handwritten note reads: “For Your 3:30 pm Meeting Today.” No substantive record of this meeting has been found.
  2. In telegram 4823 from Quito, June 10. (Ibid., Central Files 1967–69, POL 17 ECUADOR) José María Velasco Ibarra was elected on June 2 to serve a fifth term as President.
  3. According to the President’s Daily Diary, the issue of an ambassadorship for Edson O. Sessions, a Chicago businessman and former Ambassador to Finland, was raised in a June 19 telephone conversation between the President and Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirksen (R–Illinois). (Johnson Library) Dirksen called the President to discuss a possible Latin American post for Sessions on July 3, the same day Crowley requested verbal agreement for Sessions as U.S. Ambassador to Ecuador. (Telegram 5222 from Quito, July 4; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 17–1 US–ECUADOR) On July 26 the White House announced the nomination, which was confirmed by the Senate 3 days later.
  4. Sessions presented his credentials to President Velasco in a formal ceremony on September 26. (Telegram 6625 from Quito, September 30; ibid.)