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Cablegate: Measuring Transformational Diplomacy in Ecuador: Poll Shows

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DE RUEHQT #0134/01 0431941
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 121941Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY QUITO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8454
INFO RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA IMMEDIATE 7319
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ FEB 0896
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA IMMEDIATE 2362
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS IMMEDIATE 2869
RUEHMU/AMEMBASSY MANAGUA IMMEDIATE 0487
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL IMMEDIATE 3273

UNCLAS QUITO 000134

SIPDIS

STATE FOR:R-GWELCH, WHA/PDA, WHA/AND, INR-SBIRD

SIPDIS

REFTELS: QUITO 915 (2007); QUITO 2235 (2005)

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PINR PGOV EC PREL MARR MASS KPAO
SUBJECT: Measuring Transformational Diplomacy in Ecuador: Poll Shows
Improved U.S. Image and Further Opportunities

1. Summary: A national poll commissioned by Embassy Quito and
conducted in five Ecuadorian cities Jan. 10-14, 2008 shows an
improved overall image of the U.S. among Ecuadorian publics, with
regional variations that point to opportunities for additional
transformational diplomacy (TD) efforts to improve the U.S. image in
Ecuador further. Eighteen months after the Department assigned a
total of three new TD positions to Embassy Quito and Consulate
General Guayaquil as part of Global Repositioning, the Mission's
outreach and public diplomacy (PD) efforts to publicize USG
assistance programs in Ecuador have made a measurable impact in the
cities we have targeted. The poll also revealed that in cities
where we have deployed fewer of our TD resources, there is room to
educate local publics on USG efforts to help Ecuador in order to
improve the U.S. image. End Summary.

Poll Results Show Progress and Opportunity

2. The 2008 poll was conducted by local polling firm Cedatos as face
to face interviews among 1291 adults in the urban areas of Quito,
Guayaquil, Cuenca, Manta and Portoviejo, with a 5 percent margin of
error. Overall, the poll results were more positive than we
expected given negative local media coverage of bilateral issues
such as ATPA renewal and FOL renewal, and represented significant
positive movement from a year ago on general impressions of the U.S.
Key findings include:

-- 46 percent consider the U.S. "a friend of Ecuador" while 45
percent do not, an improvement from an August 2007 national poll
also conducted by Cedatos that found only 33 percent considered the
U.S. "a friend of Ecuador" while 59 percent did not.

-- For those who responded that they did not consider the U.S. a
friend of Ecuador, the top reason cited was "The U.S. seeks its own
interests," by 37 percent.

--To the question "How could the U.S. provide assistance to help
Ecuador change," 27 percent responded "create jobs" while 17 percent
each said "give student loans" and "reduce poverty."

-- A majority of respondents felt positively about U.S.-Ecuador
relations, U.S. relations with Latin America, U.S. promotion of
democratic values worldwide, the U.S. fight against drug
trafficking, U.S. efforts to solve environmental issues and U.S.
commercial policies. 77 percent disagreed with the war in Iraq, the
only negative result.

-- 73 percent of respondents agreed that USG counternarcotics
assistance benefits Ecuador.

-- 60 percent of the sample said they had heard about a USG
assistance program to Ecuador. Drilling deeper into these responses
by city and cohort, some trends emerged that show where the
Mission's TD and PD efforts have made a difference, and reveal where
there are opportunities to improve the U.S. image through further TD
and PD work.

Guayaquil and Manta Very Positive, Quito somewhat lower; Cuenca much
Lower

3. Poll results by city show that larger publics in Manta, where the
USAF has its Forward Operating Location, and Guayaquil, where the
Consulate General is located, consider the U.S. a friend of Ecuador
and have heard about USG assistance programs. We attribute these
positive numbers to the physical USG presence in these cities,
periodic high-profile visits by Amb. Jewell and other Mission PD
activities such as donations, which generate positive media
coverage. Publics in Quito, despite the presence of the Embassy and
frequent public activities by Amb. Jewell and other Embassy
officials, have a lower although still positive view of the U.S. and
less awareness of USG assistance programs, which we attribute to the
capital's saturated news environment that makes it more difficult to
capture people's attention. To maintain the positive public opinion
in Guayaquil and Manta, the Mission will continue its TD and PD
efforts, including public events by the Ambassador, Consul General,
and FOL Commander; scheduled upcoming events include an AID signing
ceremony, an adopt-a-school improvement campaign run by entry level
officers in Guayaquil, and a donation of 6000 backpacks to school
children near the FOL. In Quito, the Ambassador and other officers
will continue to conduct public events and media interviews to reach
the capital's opinion shapers and mass audiences. These traditional
PD efforts will be augmented by TD efforts carried out by the
Economics and Political Sections, including public speaking

engagements, digital video conferences, and a high school essay
contest.

Engage with Regional Cities

4. Regional variations in the overall poll results demonstrate that
public opinion in the provincial cities of Cuenca, in the southern
highlands, and Portoviejo, inland from Manta and the central coast,
is more negative than in Guayaquil, Manta or Quito, and that in
Cuenca only 26 percent has heard of a U.S. assistance program (that
figure is 74 percent for Portoviejo, a byproduct of its close
proximity to Manta and our FOL outreach efforts there). Although
the Mission has a number of positive programs in the Cuenca area,
including USAID economic growth programs, Peace Corps volunteers,
PL-480 projects, TIP programs and collaboration with Cuenca's
Binational Center, the poll shows that the Mission needs to increase
its messaging in Ecuador's third largest city, regional hub for the
part of the country which has the largest number of denied visa
cases and sends the largest number of illegal migrants to the U.S.
We will design a specific plan for engagement with Cuenca and
Southern sierra public opinion through Post's interagency outreach
committee, to include more public speaking, media interviews,
cultural and youth programming, publicity for Mission assistance
programs, consular outreach and a Milgroup humanitarian exercise. A
similar, but smaller, effort will be made to educate publics in
Portoviejo about USG assistance to the coastal region.

Continue Youth Outreach

5. The poll showed that 59 percent of the 18-24 year-old cohort
responded no to the question "Do you consider the U.S. a friend of
Ecuador," while the 25-39 year-old cohort tied at 46 percent, and
the 40 plus cohort responded 54 percent yes and 35 percent no. The
Mission has been using its three GRI positions extensively to
conduct TD outreach to university audiences in Quito, and to a
lesser extent in surrounding cities and in Guayaquil. In light of
the poll results, we will expand these efforts to more universities
and more cities.

Show Convergence of U.S. and Ecuadorian National Interests

6. When asked whether they agreed that the U.S. "shares some
objectives with the Correa government," or "helps Ecuador protect
its sovereignty," only 36 and 39 percent, respectively, answered
yes. We believe this indicates that despite showing support for
individual USG bilateral assistance programs such as
counternarcotics and anti-crime, portions of the Ecuadorian public
do not accept that there can be overlap between the U.S. and Ecuador
national interests. This attitude inhibits forming an opinion of
the U.S. as a friend of Ecuador, as these persons believe that the
U.S. preference for protecting its own national interests precludes
it from finding common ground with Ecuador. To counteract this, the
Mission will formulate and use public messages that show how U.S.
and Ecuadorian national interests converge, such as in the areas of
counternarcotics, open-markets, poverty reduction and other policy
areas.

7. Comment: As described in reftels, the Mission's TD strategy is to
change attitudes and create new leaders in Ecuador by expanding our
transformational activities with new audiences and leveraging much
more outreach by the entire Mission. Using the poll to measure our
progress has validated our TD strategy and exposed areas of
opportunity, and will guide how we apply our TD and PD efforts over
the medium-term future. The Mission will conduct a follow-up poll
in six months to continue to measure progress, and will also use
these results to inform the FY10 MSP. End Comment.
JEWELL

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