279. Memorandum From Robert Pastor of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) and the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Aaron)1


  • Presidential Message to Ecuador

At David’s request, I have been working with Vaky on trying to find ways to keep the Ecuadorean electoral process on stream.2 Our latest intelligence reports suggest that the plotting, which has been going on within the military to nulify the electoral returns of July 16, may be reaching its culmination with an announcement tomorrow.3 Our Ambassador has recommended and Vaky and I concur that we should arm our Ambassador with a Presidential message, which he could give to President Poveda if he thinks it would be useful—as opposed to counter-productive—in maintaining the integrity of the electoral process.4

It is very difficult to judge from here whether a statement or a Presidential message will have its intended result, or will give the hardliners the excuse of American interventionism to interrupt the process. Nonetheless, we believe it desirable to give this extra instrument to our Ambassador.

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In addition, State has been in touch with SOUTHCOM, General McAuliffe, to request that he call several other Generals to express our concern. McAuliffe said that it is much more effective to fly there and speak to the Generals directly than to call over non-secure lines. He is considering going to Quito this Saturday,5 but will check with our Embassy first. In addition, we have also asked our Embassy whether a statement from the State Department at this point would be helpful. If it is, it will probably be issued tomorrow.6


That you approve the sending of the message at Tab A.7

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, President’s Correspondence with Foreign Leaders File, Box 5, Ecuador: President Alfredo Poveda Burbano, 4/77-5/79. Confidential. Sent for action. Pastor wrote “Bob” next to his name.
  2. In a September 19 report from the North-South cluster to Brzezinski, Pastor wrote: “We are continuing to talk to as many people as possible in an effort to support Poveda’s efforts. Our Ambassador has spoken to all of the military leadership expressing our great concern about the retorno process.” (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, North/South, Pastor, Subject Files, Box 54, Evening Reports: 9/78)
  3. In telegram 6560 from Quito, September 19, the Embassy reported: “Implementation of plot to discard or destroy the retorno process reportedly will take place around September 22.” The Embassy continued: “Embassy believes that USG cannot ignore a substantial modification or reversal of the process and should take a number of steps to express our concern as well as to indicate our unwillingness to be as closely associated with Ecuador as we have come to be.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780382-0891)
  4. In telegram 6612 from Quito, September 20, Gonzalez asked that the Department “endeavor to have such a message prepared for my use, possibly within the next 36 hours, should we assess that the conjunction of events calls for it,” and recommended possible language for the message. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780384-0720)
  5. September 23.
  6. In telegram 241187 to Quito, September 22, the Department provided press guidance on the retorno process and noted: “Unless question is raised in noon briefing, we would propose to stimulate question outside framework of briefing.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780386-0574) In telegram 6666 from Quito, September 22, the Embassy concurred: “Agree that it be made available at noon press briefing or immediately thereafter in order to make evening news here.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780386-0925) In telegram 6709 from Quito, September 23, Gonzalez reported that Poveda “expressed concern over the State Dept ‘declaration’ of earlier today (September 22) which presaged a deterioration of relations if the July 16 elections were not respected.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780389-0151)
  7. Tab A is attached and printed as Document 280. Brzezinski checked the “approve” option.