The Aspirations of the United States, Japan, Germany and Chile to Acquire the Galapagos Islands after the Spanish-American War (1898-1914) Cover Image

Az Egyesült Államok, Japán, Németország és Chile hatalmi ambíciói a spanyol–amerikai háború után a Galápagos-szigetek megszerzéséért (1898–1914)
The Aspirations of the United States, Japan, Germany and Chile to Acquire the Galapagos Islands after the Spanish-American War (1898-1914)

Author(s): Ferenc Fischer
Subject(s): History
Published by: AETAS Könyv- és Lapkiadó Egyesület

Summary/Abstract: When discussing the Spanish-American War of 1898, the literature on the subject usually places the emphasis on the Atlantic dimensions of the conflict and often mentions in passing only its short and long term consequences in the Pacific region. These consequences include the acquisition of the Philippines by the United States, which thereby found itself closer not only to the Asian mainland but to an expanding Japan as well. The United States and Japan were separated by substantial distances, but the build-up of North American power in the Philippines on the one hand, and, on the other, the Japanese rule on Formosa Island since 1895 brought these two powers, rapidly increasing their maritime forces, much too close to each other, and presently turned one against the another. After the Spanish-American, and especially after the Russo-Japanese war, the contrasting interests of Japan and the United States were overtly manifested. Regarding each other as dangerous rivals, both powers tried to hinder the Pacific expansion of the other. The open as well as secret diplomatic activities of Japan concerning the issue of the ownership of the Galapagos Islands is one forgotten, or rather, not sufficiently explored episode of that period. The diplomatic and naval documents of the German Empire, also getting involved in this issue, shed light on certain aspects of this activity. After the Spanish-American War as well as during the construction of the Panama Canal, the United States, along with the other great powers interested in the Pacific status quo, was attracted, as if by a magnet, to the Galapagos Islands. These conflicting hegemonic interests resulted in fierce diplomatic struggles concerning the future ownership of the islands. The files in German archives, first of all in the Bundesarchiv-Militärarchiv-Freiburg and the Politisches Archiv des Auswärtigen Amts-Bonn, partially restricted, include the so-called Galapagos papers. It is possible to document with this archival material that Chile played a decisive role in the Galapagos Islands’ remaining with Ecuador. The German sources highlight first of all the conflicting interests of the United States and Chile as well as the strong military and political influence of Chile on Ecuador. The foreign policy of Chile was also supported by the South American interests of Germany and the Pacific claims of Japan; these powers, for quite different reasons, were similarly interested in keeping the Islands out of the jurisdiction of the US Navy, indeed, they supported Chile in its effort to acquire them. Thus, the fate of the Galapagos Islands was basically decided within the intricate power system of the Washington-Santiago-Berlin-Tokyo quadrangle as well as in the hostile relations between Peru and Chile, and Peru and Ecuador, while all the parties concerned were exerting strong pressure on Quito.

  • Issue Year: 1998
  • Issue No: 4
  • Page Range: 30-38
  • Page Count: 9
  • Language: Hungarian