296. Airgram A–33 From the Embassy in Ecuador to the Department of State, February 8, 1969.1 2

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Department of State
Quito A–33

1. Rationale and Basic Strategy

The United States will have three basic interests in Ecuador during the period FY 71–73. In order of their importance, they are:

(1) Hemispheric Integrity - The maintenance by Ecuador of policies that will not detract from hemispheric political integrity or, however unlikely during FY 71–73 endanger US security;

(2) Development - The growth of per capita income and the progress of Ecuadorean society toward more equitable income distribution and more representative and effective political institutions;

(3) Economic - The protection of US fishing activities off the coast of Ecuador and of US petroleum activities in the Ecuadorean Oriente.

All three of these basic interests can be influenced to varying degrees by US programs and, particularly during the FY 71–73 period, all three will be closely inter-related.

Ecuador’s small size, less strategic geographic position, and lack of important raw materials (except petroleum) diminish its bilateral significance to the U.S. However, the country can play an important role in key US-supported multilateral programs, i.e., hemispheric security and the Alliance for Progress. Failure by Ecuador to participate adequately in these programs could have serious consequences for US hemispheric objectives. This would be true, for example, if Ecuador became the chink in an otherwise effective South American security bastion, or if Ecuador fell far behind other members of the Alliance in modernization and development.

The principal sources of danger to hemispheric integrity will be the desire by Ecuadoreans for more rapid social and economic change, more promising export markets, and more independent (i.e less pro-US) national orientation. The last of these desires, as implied by its very definition, is not greatly susceptible to US influence. The first two, however, are. The desire for change can be met by programs that will have a direct impact on the welfare of lower economic and social groups. The desire for more stable exports can be met by programs that will encourage production of new goods that can be sold in Western markets rather than continued production of traditional goods for which markets must be sought in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. Thus, the most effective means of furthering the US interest in hemispheric integrity will be to further the US interest in development.

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The economic interest is somewhat more complex than characteristically is the case. Exercising reprisals as a means of protecting US fishing rights off the coast of Ecuador could deprive the USG of key policy tools needed to serve our security and development interests at the very moment when that protection was also providing a xenophobic base for anti-US actions by the Ecuadoreans. On the other hand, the protection and promotion of US petroleum activities in the Ecuadorean Oriente should simultaneously serve to provide additional domestic resources important to our development interest.

Given the operative relationship between the development and hemispheric integrity interests and the greater susceptibility of the development interest to US influence, the basic strategy of the Country Team during FY 71–73 will be to concentrate its efforts and its resources on development.

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[Omitted here are Section II, “Assessment of Current Situation and Near-Term Prospects;”Section II,“Objectives;” and Section III, “Options;” and three annexes.]

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–1969, POL 1 ECUADOR–US. Confidential. The final version of the report was not found.
  2. This Country Analysis and Strategy Paper (CASP) argued that Ecuador could play a key role in United States-supported multilateral programs, in particular the Alliance for Progress, and hemispheric security programs. The major U.S. economic interests were fishing rights, and oil.