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Cablegate: Ambassador Jewell Meets Ecuador,S New Transport

VZCZCXYZ0025
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHQT #0639 0781626
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 191626Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY QUITO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6580
INFO RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA PRIORITY 6533
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 3724
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 2446
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ MAR 0497
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA PRIORITY 1511
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL PRIORITY 2066

UNCLAS QUITO 000639

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON EAIR EWWT ELTN EC
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR JEWELL MEETS ECUADOR,S NEW TRANSPORT
MINISTER


1. (SBU) Summary: On March 13, the Ambassador paid an
introductory call on Trajano Andrade, Minister of
Transportation. Andrade explained the GOE's strategic vision
for the ministry, stressing that ground transport and port
management are priorities. He said the Ministry wanted to
fight corruption and to serve as a positive, impartial force
that would rebuild the country's transport infrastructure.
Notably, he added that he believed that the private sector
should be an ally of the government, in contrast to "the
situation in Venezuela." End summary.

2. (SBU) On March 13, the Ambassador met with Minister of
Transport Trajano Andrade. Andrade explained that with the
formation of the new administration, the Ministry of
Transport had been divided into four under secretariats:
ground transport (including public transit and the railroad
system), maritime transport and port management, air
transport, and public works (a type of policy under
secretariat that will guide the tasks of the other three).

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Each of these would contribute to a single national transport
plan, which would be set forth in a national transportation
law. The GOE has asked the embassies of Chile and Spain for
technical assistance to help develop this transport plan.

3. (SBU) A top priority for the national transport plan is
the highway system. Andrade said that Ecuador's highways
were destroyed, and described corruption in the construction
sector as untenable. He noted the MOT's plans to lower costs
by contracting with the Ecuadorian Army Corps of Engineers,
and by using existing equipment rather than buying new.
Likewise, instead of building new highways, the Ministry
plans to repair existing roads and finish ongoing projects.
He added that the Ministry is seeking ways to work with
contractors to fight corruption.

4. (SBU) When the Ambassador mentioned U.S. support for the
construction of bridges and roads in the northern border area
in the context of our alternative development efforts,
Andrade commented that fighting narco-trafficking is
important to the GOE. He said that the MOT is presenting to
President Correa alternative plans on how to continue
counter-narcotics cooperation when the Manta FOL agreement
expires in 2009. Noting his experience as the former
director of the Manta port, he said that managing the
situation would be very important since Manta port activity
has multiplied twenty times in the last two years.

5. (SBU) Andrade confirmed that plans to develop the
"Manta-to-Manaus" intermodal transport link were still
underway. The GOE is pursuing international cooperation on
the project, and Andrade estimated that in 15 years it would
provide Ecuador access to the Atlantic and Brazil access to
the Pacific.

6. (U) When the Ambassador mentioned a recent FAA visit to
Quito, Andrade said briefly that the GOE was happy with our
joint efforts to improve airport security and that continued
U.S. assistance was most welcome.

7. (SBU) Finally, Andrade commented that the private sector
should be an ally of the government, in contrast to "the
situation in Venezuela" and that he did not think that Correa
wanted things to be otherwise.

8. (SBU) Comment: Andrade came across as a new minister
determined to show that his ministry is committed to changing
the status quo. As the highest-ranking Correa administration
official hailing from the key coastal province of Manabi,
Andrade has political weight beyond his portfolio. National
highways and the Manta port will clearly be his priorities,
possibly leaving aviation to be managed at the under
secretary level. Andrade's efforts to differentiate Ecuador

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from Venezuela echoed comments from Mauricio Davalos,
Minister for Coordination of Production and Economic Policy
in a meeting with the Ambassador earlier the same day. His
comment about cooperation to replace FOL flights
post-agreement seems to reflect a typically murky
understanding of the FOL presence; we suspect Andrade is
hinting at U.S. support for Manta's airport and seaport. We
will try to convince him that renewal of the FOL is the best
means to garner on-going USG support for Manta's airport and
transportation infrastructure. End comment.
JEWELL

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