NAVY DEPARTMENT OFFICE OF THE CHIEF OF NAVAL OPERATIONS WASHINGTON MEMORANDUM TO THE PRESIDENT April 4, 1942 Subject: Galapagos - Permanent United States Air Base, and Pan-American Wild-Life Park. Vice-Admiral Horne and Lieutenant-General Andrews and other senior Army and Navy officers with whom I have discussed the subject are strongly of the opinion that under no circumstances should our government relinquish our air base in the Galapagos upon the termination of the war ("Free Men's War" or "War of Free Men"?). The reasons are crystal clear--in this new era of aviation, the Galapagos are the veritable keystone of the outer defenses in the Pacific of the Panama Canal. This objective should be achieved without doing violence to the Good Neighbor Policy. If at any time in the near future conditions should develop under which we could purchase the entire Archipelago or make a long term lease for our air bases or bases, we should not hesitate to seize the opportunity. But in view of existing political conditions in Ecuador and the troublesome traditions that have grown up concerning this issue in that country, it is likely that a new formula will have to be found that does not appear to involve a permanent surrender of sovereignty to us. The Liberal, pro-American administration of Dr. Carlos Arroyo Del Rio, President of Ecuador since 1940, is under severe criticism from the Conservative party, which numbers among its strongest supporters the Clergy, and Falangists, and other elements of varying degrees of pro- Axis sympathies. The President is charged with surrender of Ecuador's territory and future greatness in his acceptance of the terms of the Rio settlement of the Peruvian border dispute. He is also being charged with making a secret surrender of Ecuadorean sovereignty in granting us military bases in Ecuadorean territory. His Foreign Minister (a Conservative), Dr. Tobar Doneso, has just tendered his resignation.
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At the same time the Ecuadorean Army is reported to be ready to install the Superior Commander of National Defense Forces, Colonel Ricardo Astudillo, as Dictator. Although trained in Rome, Colonel Astudillo is considered to be pro-American; he certainly is the "man on horse-back" in Ecuador today. So at the moment conditions are not propitious for negotiating a new treaty on the Galapagos. For this reason I did not attempt to talk with President Arroyo Del Rio during my one day visit to Quito in mid-March. But I did discuss the subject with our Ambassador there, Mr. Boaz Long, and with the President's closest personal and political adviser, Senator Caton Cardenas, who is well and favorably known to me as a man of sound judgment and great discretion. I carefully explained to Senator Cardenas your long standing interest in the Galapagos and the unique fauna and flora found there and how your interests had been enhanced by your visit in the "Houston" four years ago. I further outlined in very general terms the idea you have for making the Galapagos into an International Park for the preservation and perpetuation of wild-life. I ventured to suggest two ways by which this might be done: A) By outright sale of the Galapagos to the United States, and then our creating a Pan-American Board of Trustees to govern the Archipelago in the interests of science but under the protection of the United States. B) By an agreement between Ecuador and the United States under which Ecuador created the Pan-American Board of Trustees and technical sovereignty remained in the name of Ecuador, but the United States would pay the costs of administration, and we would police the Archipelago from a base leased to us for a long term of years. I made it explicitly clear that you had no idea of exerting any pressure to persuade Ecuador to take any course of action that was not entirely welcome to the government of Ecuador itself, that our government did not seek additional territory anywhere, that we would scrupulously observe the sovereignty of
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every Republic in the Western Hemisphere, but at the same time your mind would be very receptive to any suggestions originating in Ecuador's government that would lead to formal negotiations to find ways and means of putting into effect the plan you cherished. Senator Cardenas expressed his personal belief that the President would be enthusiastically in favor of Plan B above, but that it would not be politically wise for him to initiate negotiations until after the Congressional elections in August of this year. I asked Senator Cardenas to write me by mid-April as to the President's reactions, and I told him that I had informed our Ambassador, Mr. Boaz Long, of what I was telling him and therefore it would be quite proper for the President to talk directly with Mr. Long on the subject if he desired further information. And I further told the Senator that if President Arroyo Del Rio did not want to talk to anyone at this time about this matter, his disinclination would be understood and his wishes respected. In closing, I expressed to Senator Cardenas your sincere regret that the laws of Ecuador made it impossible for Dr. Arroyo Del Rio to visit you officially at the White House. In order to strengthen the hands of the present Administration in Ecuador, it would seem to be prudent for us to give further financial assistance to Ecuador at the earliest opportunity. I understand that a Lend-Lease agreement is ready for signature, but our aid should extend to the broader fields of economic rehabilitation on a comprehensive scale to include agriculture, industry, mining, and, particularly, extensive road-building. Respectfully
Paul F. Foster, Commander, U.S.N.R.
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