286. Telegram From the Embassy in Ecuador to the Department of State1

1030. Subject: (U) Message From President Carter on El Salvador. Ref: State 036613.2

1. Confidential Entire Text.

2. The President’s message on El Salvador was delivered to President Roldos on February 11 during call by DAS Eaton and Ambassador to discuss fisheries (Septel) and to deliver President’s letter of February 4, which also makes a specific reference to the crisis in El Salvador.3 Copies of both letters were also given to Foreign Minister Pareja in a meeting immediately preceeding the CLL on the President.

3. Following the guidance provided in Reftel, DAS Eaton outlined USG concern over explosive situation in Central America and particularly in El Salvador, where junta Government is facing serious challenges from extremists of right and left. Eaton stated we support junta’s efforts to carry out reforms and we are requesting support for GOES from Ecuador and other democratic countries. We also underlined our desire to establish an ongoing dialogue with GOE about conditions in Central America and on actions that might be taken to face the challenges there.

4. Foreign Minister Pareja, basing himself on Ambassador Galo Leoro’s report on his recent mission to Central America with Andean [Page 824] Group Delegation, characterized the situation in El Salvador as extremely serious and deteriorating daily. He reflected considerable pessimism over junta’s ability to enact reforms, which he said the extreme right will not accept in any case. Pareja was also somewhat critical of the partisan Christian Democratic connection which Venezuela is attempting to introduce in El Salvador.4 The Foreign Minister said there is no Andean Pact position on El Salvador and reported that a junta representative was coming to Quito to ask for assistance. Pareja agreed that the junta should be supported but wondered what form such aid should take.

5. President Roldos stated that the El Salvador situation had come up in the recent Santa Cruz meeting of Andean Pact Ministers but that there is no consensus on joint action. He also mentioned that the Ecuadorean Ambassador in El Salvador has been threatened and has faced many problems. Despite this, the Ambassador has decided to remain and has taken an active role in mediating the release of the Spanish Ambassador and hostages being held in the Spanish Embassy.5 The GOE does not wish to diminish its presence in El Salvador.

6. The Ambassador will continue consultations and follow up on this matter when President Roldos has had an opportunity to study the President’s message.

7. Dept may wish to repeat this telegram to reftel addressees and San Salvador.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P870111-2023. Confidential; Immediate; Nodis.
  2. February 10. For Carter’s message on El Salvador, see Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. XV, Central America, Document 408, footnote 5.
  3. In his February 4 letter to Roldos on El Salvador, a response to Roldos’s letter of December 28, President Carter wrote that “a new government is struggling to move that tragic country toward democracy and social justice, but several guerrilla groups and their popular front organizations are trying to thwart those objectives. I hope that Ecuador’s recent success in making the transition to democracy will encourage the government of El Salvador.” (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, North/South, Pastor, Country Files, Box 20, Pastor, Country, Ecuador, 1-11/80)
  4. See Document 367.
  5. The Spanish Ambassador to El Salvador, two Embassy officials, eight Salvadorans, and four Spaniards were held hostage in the Spanish Embassy in San Salvador from February 5 to February 18, 1980. (Telegram 843 from San Salvador, February 6; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800065-0014)