299. Editorial Note.

On June 20, 1969, a one-day “tuna war” erupted between Ecuador and the United States. President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs Henry Kissinger sent three memorandums to President Richard Nixon on that day. In the first memorandum, Kissinger reported to Nixon that Ecuador had seized five ships, and was “apparently in the process of boarding two or three others.” He also said there had been reports of Ecuadorian firing across the bows of the U.S. ships. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 784, Country Files, Latin America, Ecuador, Vol. I, 1969–1970.) In an update memorandum, Kissinger informed Nixon that seven ships were boarded and seized. However, the Ecuadorian Foreign Minister ordered the Ecuadorian navy to release all U.S. vessels, and expressed, according to Kissinger “continued interest in a fisheries conference to settle this thorny issue.” (Ibid.) Kissinger’s last, brief memorandum to Nixon on the issue stated that the Ecuadorean Navy had released all seven vessels. None were taken into port, and they were not fined. Kissinger concluded, “This would indicate the Ecuadorean Government’s desire not to have a confrontation and should restore good prospects for a fisheries conference.” (Ibid.)