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Cablegate: Ecuador - No Plans to Join Bolivarian Alternative (Alba)

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OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHQT #1047 1291448
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 091448Z MAY 07
FM AMEMBASSY QUITO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6954
INFO RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA PRIORITY 6639
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 2540
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ MAY 0583
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA PRIORITY 1645
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 3748
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL PRIORITY 2301
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC PRIORITY

UNCLAS QUITO 001047

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS
TREASURY FOR SGOOCH

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON EFIN PREL EC
SUBJECT: ECUADOR - NO PLANS TO JOIN BOLIVARIAN ALTERNATIVE (ALBA)


1. (SBU) Summary: Foreign Ministry officials report that the GOE
does not plan to join ALBA, citing a lack of concrete, meaningful
proposals. Instead, Ecuador plans to focus on the broader Union of
South American Nations (UNASUR) organization. Ecuador did not sign
an agreement by ALBA members to withdraw from the World Bank's
Center for International Dispute Resolution. End Summary.

2. (U) Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Espinosa attended the 5th
Bolivarian Alternative of the Americas (ALBA) summit in Venezuela
the weekend of April 28 and 29. Prior to the conference, Espinosa
was quoted in the press as saying the Government of Ecuador (GOE)
was "interested" in understanding how ALBA functioned, what its
proposals were, and what discussions would take place. However, she
also signaled that Ecuador was not part of ALBA, but merely
attending to listen and learn. She emphasized that only President
Correa could make the decision to join ALBA.

3. (SBU) Econoff met on May 7 with the MFA's Director for
Integration Humberto Jimenez, who accompanied Espinosa on the trip,
to discuss Ecuador's position on ALBA. Jimenez stressed that the
GOE had no intention of joining ALBA in the short or medium term, as
the group does not offer any concrete initiatives. He said that
ALBA was essentially political and there were no firm proposals or
projects presented in any area discussed at the summit. He noted
that he "did not understand" what ALBA would do.

4. (SBU) Instead, Jimenez said, Ecuador would focus on the
newly-created Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), a
replacement for the South American Community of Nations (CASA, in
the Spanish acronym) that has specific proposals and includes all 12
South American countries. CASA's mission was regional integration
and its 2004 Cuzco Declaration called for a common parliament,
market and currency and sought a political and economic union
similar to the European Union. UNASUR plans to be a political
decision-making organization and also seeks regional integration.
Quito has been selected as the location of the permanent secretariat
of the organization, and a former Ecuadorian president is being
considered as the head of the secretariat.

5. (SBU) UNASUR already has working groups set up that are working
on projects in the five key focus areas of energy, infrastructure,
education, social policy, and finance, Jimenez reports. In
infrastructure, the priority is South American infrastructure
integration focusing largely on connecting highways. Member country
energy ministries are working on an energy integration plan that
they will present in October or November at the next UNASUR summit.
Financing priorities include setting up the Banco del Sur, a bank to
provide regional financing.

6. (SBU) Jimenez also confirmed that Ecuador did not sign the
Bolivia proposal that ALBA countries withdraw from the International
Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), a World
Bank arbitration forum.

7. (SBU) Comment: Jimenez's comment that Ecuador does not plan to
join was reiterated by his boss, U/S Fernando Yepez. We suspect
that these career diplomats are reflecting current GOE policy. That
said, this decision will not ultimately be driven by the
technocrats. This appears to represent President Correa's calculus
at this time, but we would not rule out a change of position in the
future. End Comment.

JEWELL

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