297. Telegram 626 From the Embassy in Ecuador to the Department of State, February 12, 1969, 2230Z.1 2

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TELEGRAM
Department of State
QUITO 626

P R 122230Z FEB 69

FM AMEMBASSY QUITO
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5656
INFO AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL
USCINCSO UNN

QUITO 0626/1

USCINCSO FOR POLAD

SUBJ: GROWING MALAISE AMONG MILITARY OVER USG POLICIES

JOINT STATE/DEFENSE/MILGRP MESSAGE

SUMMARY

GROWING UNEASINESS AMONG ECUADOREAN MILITARY LEADERS OVER IMPACT OF RECENT USG POLICIES ON AID AND MILITARY SALES TO ECUADOR COULD IMPAIR BOTH OPERATIONS U.S. MILITARY GROUP AND LOCAL MILITARY RELATIONS WITH GOVERNMENT OF PRESIDENT VELASCO. SITUATION SUGGESTS ACTIONS AND ASSURANCES ON OUR PART TO RELIEVE INCREASINGLY DIFFICULT PROBLEM.

1. CONFLUENCE SEVERAL USG POLICIES ADVERSELY AFFECTING INTERESTS OF ECUADOREAN ARMED FORCES HAS BEGUN TO CREATE CLIMATE WITHIN HIGHEST LOCAL MILITARY CIRCLES WHICH COULD EVENTUALLY IMPAIR CAPACITY MILGRP TO CARRY OUT OBJECTIVES US MILITARY AID PROGRAM. (SEVERITY ECUADOREAN REACTION REFLECTED IN RECENT BITTER CRITICISM OF US AT CABINET LEVEL AND THREAT TO DENOUNCE OR AT LEAST SEEK REVISION MILITARY MISSION AGREEMENTS.) THESE SAME [Page 2] POLICIES COULD ALSO HELP TO ERODE PRESENT WORKING RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN ECUADOREAN MILITARY AND VELASCO GOVERNMENT BY PROVOKING SERVICES TO PURCHASE MAJOR ITEMS EQUIPMENT FROM UNCERTAIN AND/OR EXPENSIVE SOURCES OUTSIDE US AND BY DELAYING ACQUISITION NEW REPLACEMENT EQUIPMENT WHICH VELASCO HAS PROMISED.

2. DEVELOPMENTS: WHICH HAVE HAD MOST HARMFUL PSYCHOLOGICAL IMPACT ON ARMED FORCES. (FROM ECUADOREAN POINT OF VIEW) ARE FOLLOWING:

A) APPLICATION PELLY AMENDMENT TO FOREIGN MILITARY SALES ACT FOLLOWING ECUADOREAN SEIZURE “DAY ISLAND” IN DECEMBER, THEREBY PROHIBITING CASH AND CREDIT SALES OF US DEFENSE ARTICLES OR SERVICES TO ECUADOR, AND HOLDING UP AS WELL ANY DISCUSSIONS PERTAINING TO SUCH SALES;

B) PROBABLE ACTIVATION KUCHEL AMENDMENT TO FISHERMEN’S PROTECTIVE ACT DUE TO SEIZURE “DAY ISLAND”, THEREBY REQUIRING THAT US AID IN AMOUNT OF UNPAID CLAIMS BE DEDUCTED FROM CURRENT PROGRAMS (IN THIS CASE MORE THAN $60,000) COUPLED WITH ECUADOREAN MILITARY EXPECTATION THAT FUNDS WILL BE DEDUCTED FROM MILITARY ASSISTANCE PROGRAM;

C) US THREATS REPOSSESS FOUR USN VESSELS NOW ON LOAN TO DEPLETED ECUADOREAN NAVY, AND US FAILURE TO ACT ON TWO YEAR-OLD, ECUADOREAN REQUEST FOR APD. THREAT TO REPOSSESS EMBODIED IN LEGISLATION INTRODUCED INTO 90TH SESSION CONGRESS, BUT NOT PASSED, AS WELL AS IN RECENT STATEMENTS SEVERAL US LEGISLATORS PROPOSING SHIPS BE RECLAIMED:

D) TERMINATION MAP GRANT MATERIEL AID AT CLOSE FY 1970.

3. AS BACKGROUND TO 2. A), MILGRP HAS RECEIVED REQUESTS FOR PRICE AND AVAILABILITY INFORMATION RE ONE AOG; 52 M–41 TANKS; T–37 AND AT–37 AIRCRAFT AND A LARGE NUMBER OF AN/PRC–25 BACK-PACKED RADIOS. MILGRP IS ALSO HANDLING QUERY ABOUT LIGHT EXECUTIVE-TYPE AIRCRAFT FOR PRESIDENTIAL USE.

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4. ECUADOREAN MILITARY NEEDS TO REPLACE NUMBER OF ITEMS OF EQUIPMENT, AND PRESIDENT VELASCO HAS PROMISED HIS SUPPORT. NOT QUESTION OF “ARMS RACE” OR DESIRE FOR SOPHISTICATED WEAPONRY, BUT INTERNAL SECURITY REPLACEMENT REQUIREMENT FOR ANTIQUATED, WORN-OUT EQUIPMENT MUCH OF WHICH IS BEYOND ECONOMICAL MAINTENANCE. (THIS FACTOR TAKES ON INCREASED IMPORTANCE IN LIGHT OF AN EXPECTED EARLY EXCHANGE DIPLOMATIC MISSIONS WITH USSR.) MOREOVER, GOE COULD PROBABLY BE PERSUADED ACCEPT RELATIVELY LESS EXPENSIVE AND LESS COMPLICATED US EQUIPMENT.

5. LOCAL MILITARY NOW SERIOUSLY CONSIDERING PURCHASE MATERIEL FROM WESTERN AND EASTERN EUROPEAN COUNTRIES EVEN THOUGH PRICES IN SOME CASES HIGHER THAN FOR SIMILAR US ITEMS. FOR OBVIOUS REASONS, MILITARY LOATHE TO BE FIRST HEMISPHERIC COUNTRY AFTER CUBA TO RECEIVE MAJOR ITEMS EQUIPMENT FROM COMMUNIST COUNTRIES, BUT LARGE TRADE BALANCES IN FAVOR OF ECUADOR ON PART OF SEVERAL EE COUNTRIES REMAIN TEMPTING SOLUTION TO ACQUISITION PROBLEM. PURCHASE THIRD COUNTRY EQUIPMENT WILL NATURALLY BRING TECHNICIANS AND ADVISORY GROUPS FROM SELLER COUNTRIES. THIS WILL EVENTUALLY LEAD TO LOSS BOTH US PRESTIGE AND DEROGATION US PRESENCE (SERIOUSLY IMPAIRING TWENTY YEARS US TRAINING AND ORIENTATION).

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6. FAILURE MILITARY TO REALIZE EARLY REPLACEMENT OF SOME ITEMS ABOUT WHICH WE HAVE BEEN APPROACHED COULD CAUSE SUBSTANTIAL FRUSTRATION WITHIN OFFICER CORPS. UNDUE DELAY THESE PURCHASES OR PURCHASE UNSATISFACTORY SUBSTITUTE COULD UNDERMINE QUALIFIED SUPPORT PRESENTLY GIVEN VELASCO GOVERNMENT BY ARMED FORCES, RAISING SPECTRE OF LOSS POLITICAL CONTINUITY.

7. AS TO 2. B) AND C), ECUADOREAN MILITARY PREFERS TO CONSIDER THAT THEY ARE NOT DIRECTLY INVOLVED IN 200 MILE “POLITICAL CONTROVERSY”. HOWEVER, ECUADOREAN NAVY IS PRINCIPAL ENFORCEMENT AGENT AND PRINCIPAL BENEFICIARY OF FINES. THERE IS SOME EVIDENCE, HOWEVER, NAVY HAS HAD CAPABILITY TO SEIZE MUCH LARGER NUMBER OF VESSELS, BUT GENERALLY HAS REFRAINED FROM SEIZURES EXCEPT WHEN FAILURE TO ACT WOULD HAVE PROVED EMBARRASSING TO INTERNAL DISCIPLINE, OR AS RESULT POLITICAL PRESSURE (SEIZURES HAVE MOST OFTEN TAKEN PLACE WITHIN 15–40 MILES COAST AFTER US VESSELS HAVE BEEN “SPOTTED” BY ECUADOREAN FISHING VESSELS AND PROVINCIAL POLITICIANS NOTIFIED). MOREOVER, ECUADOREAN [Page 5] NAVY, CITING TERMINATION OF MAP AID, US DELAY IN ACTING ON REQUEST FOR APD, AND GAP BETWEEN US AND ECUADOREAN EQUIPMENT, HAS JUST DECLINED PARTICIPATE IN UNITAS X EXERCISES SCHEDULED FOR AUGUST 1969. NAVY HAS ALSO CANCELLED 1969 MIDSHIPMEN CRUISE TO STATE OF CALIFORNIA.

8. AS TO 2. D), CT HAS RECOMMENDED IN CASP THAT CAPABILITY OF ECUADOREAN ARMED FORCES AS STABILIZING POLITICAL FORCE AND AS DETERRENT TO ANY FUTURE INTERNAL SECURITY THREAT BE ASSURED BY MAINTENANCE MILITARY GRANT PROGRAM BEYOND FY 1970 IN AMOUNT $2 MILLION ANNUALLY; THAT A MILITARY SALES PROGRAM BE ESTABLISHED AT THIS SAME LEVEL; AND, THAT ECUADOREAN NAVY BE PERMITTED TO LEASE ONE AOG, ONE AKL, AND (ASSUMING A SATISFACTORY PRIOR SOLUTION TO THE FISHERIES PROBLEM) ONE APD.

9. ACTION REQUESTED: WHILE CT WILL CONTINUE ATTEMPT MITIGATE UNEASINESS ECUADOREAN MILITARY RE USG INTENTIONS, WE BELIEVE TIMELY ACTION NECESSARY TO OFFSET ADVERSE LOCAL REACTIONS, ESPECIALLY RE EFFECTS OF US LEGISLATION. WE BELIEVE FOLLOWING ACTIONS ON PART DEPARTMENT MIGHT PROVE USEFUL.

A) AS TO FMS ACT, ALTHOUGH DEPARTMENT INFORMED AMBASSADOR MANTILLA THAT ACT HAD BEEN VIOLATED, MILITARY LEADERS HERE DO NOT SEEM HAVE CLEAR UNDERSTANDING OF PELLY AMENDMENT. SUGGEST THAT DEPARTMENT PROVIDE LANGUAGE FOR POSSIBLE LETTER TO DEFENSE MINISTER FROM EMBASSY DISCUSSING SCOPE AND EFFECTS AMENDMENT, AND, IF FEASIBLE, DELIMITING PERIOD OVER WHICH SANCTIONS PROVIDED FOR BY AMENDMENT ARE APPLICABLE. (ALTHOUGH EMBASSY DOES NOT CONSIDER SITUATION NOW WARRANTS RECOMMENDATION THAT REQUEST FOR WAIVER PROVISIONS OF PELLY AMENDMENT BE SUBMITTED TO PRESIDENT, WE MAY HAVE TO REASSESS POSITION IF OUR FAILURE PROVIDE HARDWARE BECOMES MAJOR FACTOR UNDERLINING STABILITY VELASCO GOVERNMENT, OR IF IT SHOULD THREATEN SERIOUSLY TO COMPROMISE OUR BILATERAL RELATIONS.)

B) AS TO MILITARY AID PROGRAM, REQUEST IRG GIVE MOST CAREFUL AND SYMPATHETIC CONSIDERATION TO OUR CASP PROGRAM STRATEGIES.

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C) AS TO REDUCTION OF US ASSISTANCE, DELAY IN PRESENTATION CLAIM FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF DAY ISLAND FINES (QUITO 0605) UNTIL AFTER ADJOURNMENT ON MAY 4 OF NEXT SESSION OF ECUADOREAN CONGRESS WOULD BE HELPFUL.
GP–1
CROWLEY

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–1969, POL 1 ECUADOR–US. Confidential. The Pelly Amendment to PL 90–629 of 1967, the Fisherman’s Protective Act (22 USC Sec. 2751 et seq.) stated that if a nation conducted its fishing operations in a manner that compromised effectiveness of international fishery conservation, Washington could embargo that nation’s products. The Kuchel Amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act of 1965, as amended (21 USC Sec. 2100 et seq.) gave the President discretionary authority to cut off all assistance to any country which seized a U.S. flag vessel on the high seas.
  2. Ambassador Crowley reported the negative consequences of a reduction in U.S. Government assistance toward Ecuador.