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Cablegate: For Correa, Dispute with Colombia Not Over

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DE RUEHQT #0248/01 0722117
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O 122117Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY QUITO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8613
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C O N F I D E N T I A L QUITO 000248

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/06/2014
TAGS: PREL PTER PHUM MARR EC CO VE MX
SUBJECT: FOR CORREA, DISPUTE WITH COLOMBIA NOT OVER

REF: A. QUITO 247
B. QUITO 228
C. QUITO 216

Classified By: DCM Jefferson Brown for Reasons 1.4 (b&d)

1. (C) Summary. The GOE plans to re-establish relations
with Colombia by the end of March, although XXXXXXXXXXX
noted "it will be difficult to restore trust." Correa made
his most anti-U.S. statements to date on March 8, criticizing
U.S. support for Colombia and U.S. media dominance. On the
other hand, Vice FM Valencia requested a meeting with the
Secretary or Deputy Secretary for FM Salvador on March 17,

SIPDIS
indicating GOE interest in maintaining constructive ties with
the U.S.; Correa himself displayed a somewhat calmer tone in
a meeting with the Ambassador on March 12 (Ref A). The GOE
presented its case in detail to the OAS delegation, but did
not discuss its contacts with the FARC. An opposition party
plans to ask the Supreme Electoral Tribunal to investigate
alleged FARC support for the Correa campaign. The
Constituent Assembly is apparently proceeding with plans to
investigate a possible role by the Manta Forward Operating
Location in the Colombian incursion. A local human rights
group and the parents of the young Mexicans wounded or killed
at the FARC camp accused the GOC of committing terrorist acts
and violating human rights. End Summary.

Correa Declares Victory at Rio Group Summit

2. (U) During his March 8 radio address, President Correa
triumphantly stated that "the sovereignty of our country has
been recognized." He said he had achieved the two things he
sought at the Rio Group Summit: a Colombian "unconditional
apology" and "commitment to never repeat this type of
aggression with Ecuador nor with any other country."
According to Correa, the resolution of the crisis "marks a
milestone for a new era of diplomacy in Latin America...where
principles, justice and international rights will take
precedence; never again power..."

3. (U) Correa said, "We can never accept the principle of a
'preemptive strike'...that is a return to imperialism,"
calling the Colombian attack a premeditated massacre. He
argued that Colombia should be humble enough to accept
international help -- a peace force with Brazil, Argentina,
Chile, et al. -- because its internal conflict affected other
countries in the region. On relations with Colombia, Correa
said that "it would be very difficult to restore trust" and
that "I will never forgive anyone for this as long as I
live." He expressed a willingness to fight illegality
(guerrillas). Correa indicated during a March 11 press
interview that "diplomatic ties would be re-established
before the end of March." Correa expressed gratitude to Hugo
Chavez and the Venezuelan people, commenting that "Ecuador is
not disloyal. When he needs us, we will be supporting the
Venezuelan people."

4. (C) Correa criticized U.S. support for Colombia
(economic, military, media) and the influence of the United
States at the Organization of American States (OAS). He said
that the U.S. position during the crisis was very clear and
that several presidents told him that they were pressured to
support Colombia and not Ecuador. Correa backed the proposal
for the Rio Group to become the Organization of Latin
American States and replace or supplement the OAS, claiming
that the Rio Group had been much more efficient in solving
the crisis.

Ecuador Still Values U.S. Ties

5. (C) Vice FM Jose Valencia, meeting with the DCM on March
11, said the GOE recognizes that recent events, including the
swirl of allegations about FARC links to Ecuador at different
levels -- as well as the hot recent rhetoric from Correa --
have badly hurt Ecuador's image in Washington and left
concerns that need to be addressed. They want to work with
us to avoid lasting damage. He said they wanted to make
clear that, while other existing and potential Latin American
sub-regional forums are useful, they also strongly value the
OAS. He formally requested a meeting with the Secretary or
Deputy Secretary for FM Maria Isabel Salvador during her
March 16-18 visit to Washington for the OAS ministerial
meeting.

6. (C) Asked about a different pending issue -- the
diplomatic note governing annual bilateral military training
and exercises, Valencia said there was no political problem
and they wanted those programs to continue. The delay in
finalizing the note was based on the slow pace of their
internal technical legal review, but he expected it to be
finished within a few days.

OAS Visit to Ecuador

7. (C) Acting OAS Representative Gisselle Lopez, meeting
with PolCouns on March 11, called the OAS delegation's visit
political since it did not include technical experts. She
said President Correa, during his March 9 meeting with the
delegation, emphasized that the delegation should confirm
that the Colombian attack violated Ecuadorian sovereignty,
stressing his interest in maximum transparency. Lopez
explained that the delegation considered the presentations
they heard from Internal/External Security Coordinating
Minister Larrea, the military leadership, and the police more
useful than the March 10 visit to the site given that the
bodies had been removed and other changes made. (Note: Lopez
herself did not accompany the group to the site.) She said
the GOE gave the delegation copies of all the presentations
and videos. According to Lopez, neither GOE contacts with
the FARC nor the proposal for a multinational force on the
Colombian border were discussed during the delegation's March
9 meetings with GOE officials. Lopez, an Ecuadorian who has
worked with the OAS office in Quito for 18 years, expressed
her personal opinion that Correa needs to think more
objectively and rationally about the event and how the GOE
should proceed.

8. (SBU) OAS Secretary General Insulza held a press
conference the evening of March 10 before departing Ecuador.
He stated that Colombia had violated Ecuadorian sovereignty.
Insulza recognized that the Rio Group meeting had helped the
process of restoring bilateral relations, saying he expected
the countries would normalize relations in due course and
that he was not there to mediate. Asked about the idea of a
multilateral peace force along the border, Insulza said it
would require a request from both Colombia and Ecuador. He
added that he saw that possibility as more a matter for the
U.N. to consider than the OAS, but that he did not see how it
could work, as even the Colombian and Ecuadorian military and
police, who knew the area, could not police it effectively.
Insulza stated that the OAS report would be based on
principles and law, with the goal of avoiding future
cross-border incursions.

Limited Prospects for GOE Investigation into FARC Ties

9. (C) After calling at the Rio Group summit for an
Ecuadorian-led investigation into the accusations of GOE ties
to the FARC, the GOE has done little to initiate it. Most
press reports here have focused on the Interpol investigation
of the computer files.

10. (C) Gilmar Gutierrez, head of the Patriotic Society
Party (PSP) bloc in the Constituent Assembly and brother of
ex-president Lucio Gutierrez, told the DCM on March 11 that
the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) would not investigate
alleged FARC contributions to the Correa campaign in 2006
unless it received a formal complaint, which the PSP
therefore planned to file. Since four of the seven members
of the TSE are loyal to President Correa, it is doubtful that
the investigation would be rigorous.

FOL Investigation

11. (C) Conflicting reports continue about exactly what kind
of "audit" of FOL operations during the period of the
incident might be launched, and under which government
auspices. We have been told privately that Fernando Cordero,
Vice President of the Constituent Assembly, agreed that the
Legislative/Oversight committee would lead it, rather than
the Committee on Sovereignty, International Relations, and
Latin American Integration. Others assert it should be a
technically qualified commission outside the Assembly. Press
reports continue to conflict, and no official notification of
any kind has yet been received by the Embassy. As stated in
reftels B and C, the Embassy already declared publicly, and
privately to President Correa, that no flights from the FOL
were involved. The only aircraft in flight at the time of
the incident was a Coast Guard C-130H, hundreds of miles to
the west over the Pacific Ocean.

Claims of ColMil Terrorism and Human Rights Violations

12. (SBU) President of the Latin American Association of
Human Rights (ALDHU) Juan de Dios Parra claimed on March 11
in a television interview that "the Colombian army committed
an act of terrorism in Ecuador." He said that ALDHU
presented a formal accusation before the national court of
Colombia and planned to do the same in Mexico during the week
of March 17. Dios Parra also stated that ALDHU would assume
the defense of five Mexicans and two Colombians killed during
the attack. When asked in the interview if ALDHU had lodged
a similar formal accusation against the FARC when six
Ecuadorian military and four policemen were killed during a
patrol operation in the northern border in 2003, he said they
protested, but admitted that they did not lodge a formal
complaint. Parra said the two wounded Colombian women appear
to have been performing a domestic service role (washing,
cooking, taking care of the animals) for the FARC, against
their will. He said one of the women had tried to escape
twice, and was found by the Ecuadorian military chained to a
tree. ALDHU has advocated that they be given refugee status
in Ecuador.

13. (SBU) The parents of Mexican students Juan Gonzalez
(deceased) and Lucia Morett (survivor), also appearing on
national television, separately accused Colombia of state
terrorism. Juan's father, Alvaro Gonzalez, claimed his son
was not an insurgent and demanded the support of the Mexican
government "in defense of Mexican civilians who believe this
was a crime against humanity." Lucia Morett's mother claimed
that her daughter was the victim of sexual assaults and that
she heard shots killing injured insurgents by the Colombian
military personnel involved in the attack. She defended her
daughter's innocence, saying that she was not an insurgent
but an academic who was doing "research."

14. (SBU) Ecuadorian media on March 12 featured extensive
reporting based on Mexican government sources that the head
and coordinator of the Mexican contingent that had attended
the Quito Bolivarian Congress, and traveled both before and
after the Congress to the FARC camp, was Mario Dagoberto Diaz
Orgaz. The GOM alleges that Diaz is the FARC,s finance
director in Mexico. Diaz, a university researcher at the
Center of Engineering and Industrial Development (CIDESI) in
Queretaro, Mexico, denies the charges.
Jewell

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