The Minister in Ecuador ( Long ) to the Secretary of State

No. 1634

Sir: In amplification of my despatch No. 1360 [1630] of February 17,42 I have the honor to report that an employee of Panagra advised me about noon yesterday that his company had received a query from the Minister of National Defense as to whether it could purchase or take over 400 drums of aviation gasoline which have been stored at Guayaquil since the Fall of 1939.

The local Panagra office first had the idea of inquiring as to the specifications of this gasoline, feeling quite sure that it was 87 octane, which Panagra could not use. About 3 p.m. I was advised that Panagra would probably answer the Minister of National Defense, saying that it would purchase the gasoline. This sudden change of front was due to a rumor that Sedta had already received an authorization from the Ecuadoran Government to take over the entire 400 drums.

Late last week Sedta revised its schedule downward to make fewer trips, for “technical reasons”. At the post office inquirers were advised that a shortage of gasoline prevented Sedta from making its usual trips. A representative of Panagra asserted that friends from Guayaquil advised that Sedta had only a few drums of gasoline left. Other sources indicated that Sedta’s March quota of 150 drums could not be delivered from Talara until about March 3.

Yesterday afternoon advice reached us that Major Paez, Acting Chief of the Ecuadoran Air Corps, had given the Government order turning over to Sedta the 400 drums of old aviation gasoline stored at Guayaquil.

[Page 272]

The resident diplomatic agent of Panagra advised me this morning that he had sent an air mail communication to Mr. Gustavo Vidal, Panagra Vice President, at New York by plane leaving February 17 at 2 p.m., to the effect that Sedta has now applied for permission to utilize all facilities being installed by Panagra, namely, airports, hangars, offices, and so forth. There has been no time to confirm this latest move of Sedta but past experience shows that aggressive steps will be taken by them.

Rumor has it today that the next move will be to provide the Ministry of National Defense with airplane service to the Oriente. However, it is felt that this may be an exaggeration since the presence here of our Aviation Mission suggests that eventually progress will be made and steps be taken to equip Ecuadoran Army fliers to render the Oriente service.

This office would appreciate being informed as to the approximate date when Panagra may receive the delivery of new planes which will release one or more of the old DC–2’s for service in Ecuador. It would likewise be appreciated if we might be advised as to approximately how long it would take to supply the civilian instructors and the hydroplanes necessary to render the Oriente service. This information may be of use in blocking further contracts by Sedta.

This morning I mentioned to Dr. Tobar45 that Major Paez was understood to have authorized Sedta to make use of the 400 drums of aviation gasoline at Guayaquil and observed that this was a supply sufficient to run Sedta for two and a half months. I said that I had gathered the impression from the President some weeks ago when handing him the autographed letter from President Roosevelt that it was not then the intention of the Ecuadoran Government to lend gasoline to Sedta. Dr. Tobar said he was not informed but that in his personal opinion it was obviously desirable that thought be given to the realization of the objectives sought as soon as Panagra was in a position to render a full internal service.

Respectfully yours,

Boaz Long
  1. Not printed.
  2. Julio Tobar Donoso, Ecuadoran Minister for Foreign Affairs.