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Cablegate: Ecuadorian Troop Movements, Farc Captures, Fol

VZCZCXYZ0000
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHQT #0228/01 0672235
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 072235Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY QUITO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8596
INFO RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 7414
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 3859
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 2938
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ MAR LIMA 2460
RUEHMD/AMEMBASSY MADRID 1759
RUEHMU/AMEMBASSY MANAGUA 0492
RUEHME/AMEMBASSY MEXICO 1752
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL 3380
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL

id: 144928
date: 3/7/2008 22:35
refid: 08QUITO228
origin: Embassy Quito
classification: SECRET
destination: 08QUITO221
header:
VZCZCXYZ0000
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHQT #0228/01 0672235
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 072235Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY QUITO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8596
INFO RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 7414
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 3859
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 2938
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ MAR LIMA 2460
RUEHMD/AMEMBASSY MADRID 1759
RUEHMU/AMEMBASSY MANAGUA 0492
RUEHME/AMEMBASSY MEXICO 1752
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL 3380
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL


----------------- header ends ----------------

S E C R E T QUITO 000228

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/06/2014
TAGS: PREL MOPS PTER EC CO MX SP
SUBJECT: ECUADORIAN TROOP MOVEMENTS, FARC CAPTURES, FOL
INVESTIGATION

REF: QUITO 221

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

1. (S) SUMMARY. Ecuador's Fourth Division Army Commander
Narvaez confirmed on March 4 that he had modestly increased
border zone deployments but was operating fairly normally,
and that the Division's primary mission was still to pursue
the FARC. Five suspected FARC insurgents were captured near
the site of the Colombian operation on March 6. Colombian
accusations about Correa administration's FARC contacts have
caused some within the military to be concerned about
possible removal of some military leaders, including Narvaez.
Several of the individuals killed in the March 1 attack
appear to have been Mexican, including at least one of the
survivors currently in a Quito military hospital. 50% of
Ecuadorian poll respondents did not agree with the GOE
decision to cut of diplomatic relations with Colombia. The
Constituent Assembly is considering calls for an
investigation into whether the Manta Forward Operating
Location was involved in supporting the Colombian operation.
END SUMMARY.

MILITARY UPDATE

2. (S) USG representatives have met over the past few days
with Brigadier General Fabian Edmundo Narvaez, commander of
the Ecuadorian Army's Fourth Division (which includes the
area of the Reyes incident). Narvaez has been an aggressive
commander, increasing patrols and operations, and very
receptive to USG support. He did not appear to have changed
his attitude, nor did he demonstrate anger over the GOC's
operation against the FARC. He seemed to remain committed to
pursuing the FARC. Narvaez confirmed that approximately 150
soldiers from the Fourth Division converged on the site of
the Colombian operation in northern Ecuador, some to assess
the site and others to look for evidence of other FARC
presence. The Ecuadorian Navy sent three corvette warships
to the maritime border with Colombia as a show of force.

3. (S) The Fourth Division, comprised of 4,500 troops, has
relocated its operating headquarters from Coca, Orellana
province, to the 24th Special Forces Group in Lago Agrio,
Sucumbios province, closer to the border. According to
Narvaez, the Fourth Division is pursuing the FARC actively,
as it has in a series of concerted operations since last
November. Amid recriminations for the GOE,s failure to
locate and destroy the Reyes camp, some in the military fear
that Narvaez will be (unfairly, in his case) made a scapegoat
and relieved of his command (note: many believe he is one of
the officers whose replacement appeared to be part of the
negotiation that Larrea conducted with Reyes, as cited in the
post-op captured documents). Other military officers have
expressed resentment regarding President Correa's handling of
the situation and concern about the Colombian accusations
that the Correa administration may replace military
leadership as part of negotiations with the FARC.

RECOVERY AND CAPTURE OF FARC

4. (C) The Fourth Division relocated the 22 bodies and the
three wounded from the FARC camp to Quito on March 3 and 4,
the wounded currently in a military hospital. (Two others,
including Raul Reyes, were previously removed by the
Colombian military.) Ecuadorian leaders, in seeking to build
their case against the GOC action in terms of international
law and convention, have asserted that some of the bodies
reveal shots in the back. Accompanying this argument is
criticism that the Colombian forces left wounded individuals
behind. Among the three female survivors, Lucia Andrea
Morett Alvarez, a Mexican national whose parents came to
Quito to visit her on March 6, claimed no ties to the FARC,
whereas another, Martha Perez, admitted to the press that she
had been a FARC insurgent for one year. No decision has yet
been announced about how the GOE intends to handle these
detainees, as officials say only that an investigation must
first proceed. Minister of Coordination of Internal and
External Security Gustavo Larrea claimed publicly on March 7
that five other Mexican nationals were at the FARC camp at
the time of the attack, and "may have died." An embassy

source informed that one body already recovered from the site
had a Mexican passport and is presumed to be a Mexican
national.

5. (SBU) On March 6, two additional bodies were discovered
approximately 800 meters from the site of the Colombian
operation. That same day, the Ecuadorian military captured
five presumed FARC members. Minister Larrea announced that
"the insurgents were detained in the Chanangue river, that
opens into the San Miguel river, a few meters from the
Colombian border."

PROTESTS AND PUBLIC OPINION

6. (SBU) Demonstrations have taken place in Quito during the
week following the Colombian incursion, most passing in front
of the Colombian embassy. Most have been limited to just a
few hundred; most have been directed against the Colombian
action but some have also been against the FARC. On the
evening of March 6, approximately 1,200 participants
demonstrated peacefully in front of the U.S. embassy,
chanting anti-U.S. and anti-Colombian slogans. Ecuadorian
authorities prevented a smaller protest group from reaching
the U.S. embassy earlier in the day. A larger, government
sponsored demonstration is planned for March 13.

7. (C) The GOE, seeking to ensure domestic support,
organized a large meeting with civil society representatives
on March 5, where it made a detailed presentation on the
March 1 events. Our contacts in the government and academia
have expressed a range of views on the prospects for
repairing the rupture. MFA North America DG Santiago Chavez
was by far the most optimistic, expressing his (apparently
personal) view that things could be patched together over the
next few weeks. Professor Grace Jaramillo of the Latin
American Social Sciences Faculty (FLACSO) was far more
pessimistic; she told us that the determinant whether Ecuador
would shift permanently to a position closer to Chavez would
be U.S. willingness to condemn Colombia's violation of
Ecuadorian sovereignty.

8. (C) Many of our contacts, while supporting Correa's
position on the incursion, have expressed regret at the break
in diplomatic relations with Colombia. For example, NGO
Citizen Participation Executive Director Ruth Hidalgo told us
it was unfortunate given all that the Ecuadorian and
Colombian people have in common. A Cedatos poll found that
50% of respondents did not agree with the break in diplomatic
relations. Commentators have noted that Ecuador did not
break off relations with Peru even during two wars they
fought in the last 20 years. Specifically consular functions
have apparently been allowed to continue.

FOL INVESTIGATION BY ASSEMBLY

9. (C) Alberto Acosta and other Constituent Assembly leaders
have stated that the Assembly's Committee on Sovereignty,
International Relations, and Latin American Integration will
decide whether to investigate if the U.S. Forward Operating
Location (FOL) was involved in supporting the Colombian
attack on March 1 (reftel). The Constituent Assembly sent a
letter on March 6 to the FOL Commander requesting information
on flights originating from the FOL. The Embassy is working
to communicate transparency, stressing that the FOL flight
arrival and departure information is available from the
Ecuadorian civil aviation agency that mans the Manta airport
control tower, as well as through the Ecuadorian liaison
officer stationed at JIATF-South. On March 6, thirteen
opposition Assembly members visited the FOL and received a
full tour and command briefing.

QUITO BOLIVARIAN CONGRESS TIES TO FARC

10. (S) There is reason to suspect that some of those in the
Raul Reyes camp at the time of the Colombian attack had
entered Ecuador to attend the Second Bolivarian Continental
Congress in Quito February 24-27. At least two passports
recovered from the attack site show that the insurgents
entered Ecuador shortly before the Bolivarian Congress. The
Bolivarian Congress was also attended by three Basque

Homeland and Freedom (ETA) members from Spain. A video
address by Raul Reyes was played at the beginning of the
Congress. The FARC helped sponsor and fund the event by
paying the $4,200 deposit on the Culture House, the venue.
The Caribbean Bloc Coordinator of the Bolivarian Continental
Coordinator, Luciano Marin Arango (aka Ivan Marquez), passed
the funds for the Congress through Audrey Millot, a known
French FARC affiliate.

11. (C) Maria Augusta Calle, President of the sovereignty
committee in the Constituent Assembly, signed a petition
along with numerous others requesting the use of the Culture
House for the Bolivarian Congress. An article in the March 6
edition of the weekly Vistazo magazine shows photos of Calle
with the daughter of Raul Reyes, Lidia Carmenza Devia
Collazos, who it said had been living in El Quinche,
northeast of Quito. In the article, Calle was quoted as
saying she had met many people as a journalist but denying
any knowledge of contact with Reyes' daughter.
BROWN

=======================CABLE ENDS============================

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