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Cablegate: Un Health Rapporteur Sides with Goe On Spraying

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DE RUEHQT #1180/01 1422020
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 222020Z MAY 07
FM AMEMBASSY QUITO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7058
INFO RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA IMMEDIATE 6673
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA IMMEDIATE 1671
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ MAY 0600
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA IMMEDIATE 3751
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS IMMEDIATE 2557
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA IMMEDIATE 0701
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL IMMEDIATE 2352
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0365
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0115
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL

UNCLAS QUITO 001180

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL MARR MASS MOPS SNAR PTER EC CO
SUBJECT: UN HEALTH RAPPORTEUR SIDES WITH GOE ON SPRAYING


1. (SBU) Summary: United Nations Rapporteur for Human Health
Rights Paul Hunt visited Ecuador May 14-18 at the invitation
of the GOE to conduct a "non-scientific" study of the impact
of Colombia's aerial fumigation program on Ecuadorian
residents in the border region. Hunt met with residents, NGO
representatives, and local officials in three small
communities in the Sucumbios province, and discussed
development and health issues with GOE officials including FM
Espinosa. Before departing he told the press that the GOC
should permanently end spraying of glyphosate due to credible
evidence that aerial fumigations had negatively impacted the
physical and mental health of border residents. He also
expressed concern over the poor state of healthcare in
Ecuador's border region. Hunt is expected to deliver a
formal report to the UN Human Rights Council sometime this
summer. Foreign Minister Maria Espinosa touted Hunt's
comments as a "victory" for Ecuador, and said she would
discuss Hunt's preliminary findings with Colombia Foreign
Minister Fernando Araujo during his May 28 visit to Quito.
End Summary.

Taking Ecuador's Side

2. (U) Hunt told the press on May 18 that there is credible
evidence to suggest that aerial dissemination of glyphosate
had negatively impacted the physical and mental health of
Ecuadorians along the border. He publicly urged the
Colombian government not resume aerial fumigations until it
could clearly prove that glyphosate does not negatively
impact public health. Hunt also expressed concern over the
lack of an adequate healthcare infrastructure and sufficient
GOE presence in the border region. He is expected to deliver
his full report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

UN Rapporteur Explains Mission to Diplomatic Missions

3. (SBU) Earlier on May 18, Hunt briefed interested members
of the dipcorps about the background to his visit, and hinted
at his preliminary findings without spelling them out. Hunt
explained that his May 14-18 visit was to ensure the basic
human right to the highest attainable standard of health for
Ecuador's northern border residents. He noted that while he
had reviewed the CICAD study and spoken with representatives
from the OAS, PAHO, and UNDPC before traveling to Ecuador,
his research was not scientific. Hunt also denied that he
would be the international representative to the tripartite
commission studying the issue.

4. (SBU) Hunt said that he had met during his visit with
Foreign Minister Maria Espinosa, Minister Coordinator for
Internal and External Affairs Fernando Bustamante, and MFA
Director of International Cooperation Ambassador Carlos
Jativa to discuss conditions in the northern border region
and the GOE response (namely Plan Ecuador). Prior to
announcing his findings to the press, he intended to brief FM
Espinosa privately.

5. (SBU) Hunt recounted meetings in three communities in the
Sucumbios province where residents, NGO representatives, and
local residents shared concerns over the negative impact of
glyphosate on their health, crops, and environment. Hunt
expressed shock over Ecuador's "historic neglect" of the
region, and noted that the lack of government services had
left residents vulnerable to health problems, likely
exacerbating the glyphosate issue.

6. (SBU) Hunt acknowledged as positive Colombia's increased
efforts to manually eradicate coca plants, and recognized
that the issue was complicated by the adverse health effects
of narco-processing in the region. He emphasized his mandate
is exclusively focused on the human right to health and said
that public policies by governments in the region (read
Colombia) did not appear to take this human right into proper
account. Hunt stressed the importance of dialogue and
cooperation between Ecuador and Colombia, and lamented
Colombia's decision not to permit him to visit the Colombian
side of the border, where spraying took place. Hunt noted
the absence of any Colombian government representative at the
briefing, and said his offer to brief the Colombian
Ambassador before sharing his findings publicly had been
refused.

Espinosa Claims Victory; Prepares for Araujo Visit

7. (U) Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Maria Espinosa on May 18
cited Hunt's comments as representing a "great victory" for
the GOE's position against aerial fumigation within 10 km of
the Ecuadorian border. She said that the GOE was confident
that the GOC would be open to discuss the results of the
report, and expressed optimism that the GOC would take
responsibility for the damage caused by aerial fumigations.
Espinosa and Colombian Foreign Minister Fernando Araujo are
expected to discuss the issue during their proposed May 28
meeting in Quito.

COMMENT

8. (SBU) Hunt's visit and findings are already being touted
by the GOE as vindication of its position, for domestic
consumption. FM Espinosa will undoubtedly seek to press
Araujo for public concessions on the issue.
JEWELL

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