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Cablegate: Sfrc Staffdel Carl Meacham Visit to Quito

VZCZCXYZ0018
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHQT #0297/01 0881022
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 281022Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY QUITO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8682
INFO RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 7464
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 3876
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 2962
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ MAR LIMA 2507
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL 3441
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL

C O N F I D E N T I A L QUITO 000297

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: TEN YEARS
TAGS: PGOV PREL PTER MARR EC CO VE
SUBJECT: SFRC STAFFDEL CARL MEACHAM VISIT TO QUITO

Classified By: CDA Douglas Griffiths for Reasons 1.4 (b&d).

1...


id: 147622
date: 3/28/2008 10:22
refid: 08QUITO297
origin: Embassy Quito
classification: CONFIDENTIAL
destination:
header:
VZCZCXYZ0018
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHQT #0297/01 0881022
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 281022Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY QUITO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8682
INFO RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 7464
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 3876
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 2962
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ MAR LIMA 2507
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL 3441
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL


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

C O N F I D E N T I A L QUITO 000297

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: TEN YEARS
TAGS: PGOV PREL PTER MARR EC CO VE
SUBJECT: SFRC STAFFDEL CARL MEACHAM VISIT TO QUITO

Classified By: CDA Douglas Griffiths for Reasons 1.4 (b&d).

1. (SBU) Summary. Senior Professional Staff Member of the
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Carl Meacham, during a
visit to Quito on March 19, focused on the March 1 attack on
a FARC camp in Ecuador and on Ecuador-Colombia relations.
Meacham met separately with officials of the Ministries of
Foreign Affairs, Government and Police, and Defense, and held
a roundtable discussion with non-governmental analysts. The
Ecuadorian interlocutors stressed that the Colombian
incursion was a violation of Ecuadorian sovereignty, that the
FARC were not welcome but that the border is impossible to
control, and that Colombian-Ecuadorian relations would
improve only with Colombian commitment never to repeat such
an attack. GOE and non-governmental opinions differed on the
GOE's commitment against the FARC. (End Summary)

Opposition to "Preventive War"

2. (SBU) All of Meacham's interlocutors (in and out of
government) agreed that the Colombian attack was premeditated
and an unacceptable violation of Ecuadorian sovereignty. MFA
Under Secretary for Bilateral Affairs Diego Stacey stated
that the GOE was against the concept of "preventive war", and
that it was not an acceptable justification for Colombia's
attack against the FARC within Ecuadorian territory.

Zero Tolerance for "Irregular Forces", but Unable to Prevent
Incursions

3. (C) Ministry of Defense Principal Under Secretary
Carvajal said that the GOE had a policy of zero tolerance of
"irregular" or illegal forces in Ecuador, and gave a detailed
description of the logistical challenges and degree of effort
by Ecuador and Colombia. He noted that, unlike Colombia,
Ecuador had cities close to the Colombian border, including
Quito (which is roughly the same distance from the border as
Pasto, Colombia). He said that Colombian military control
along the border was sporadic, using mobile patrols from
their few posts near the border, while the Ecuadorian
military had 14 military posts in its border region, covering
the region more consistently. Minister of Coordination of
Internal and External Security Fernando Bustamante stressed
that the Ecuadorian military had destroyed 47 FARC camps
since 2007, and that the GOE fought narcotics trafficking
diligently. He also reiterated an earlier statement by the
Minister of Defense that the GOE calling the FARC terrorists
would make Ecuador a target for FARC reprisals.

4. (SBU) Under Secretary of Defense General Jorge Pena said
that the problems along the border could not be solved by the
military alone, pointing out that FARC members in civilian
clothes who presented identification could legally cross the
border. He added that he considered FARC actions terrorism,
and that he was glad to see Reyes dead. Referring to Plan
Ecuador, Minister Bustamante discussed the GOE's desire to
increase its presence in the border area using social and
economic programs and police presence, with the objective of
reducing incentives for Ecuadorians to work with irregular
forces. Under Secretary Carvajal said that Ecuadorians
living in the border region claimed they made $3,000 each
working in coca fields in Colombia, but that they would not
plant coca within Ecuador because they considered it
prohibited here. Under Secretary Stacey said that the GOE
currently spent approximately $6 million annually on border
protection.

Ecuador-Colombia Relations Will Mend, but Only Under Certain
Conditions

5. (C) Under Secretary Stacey stated that relations with
Colombia would be normalized, that the two countries had many
common project and interests, and that the GOE wanted to work
with Colombia. He stressed, however, the GOE wanted
"guarantees that this (a cross border military incursion)
would not happen again." Minister Bustamante claimed that
the GOE never once received satisfactory results through the
Binational Border Commission (COMBIFRON) with Colombia. He
said the GOE sought compensation for properties that were
destroyed and impartial investigations when Ecuadorians were
killed, but with no result. He stressed that given the
failure of bilateral mechanisms, observers representing a
third party (such as the Rio Group and OAS) were needed to
ensure the rule of law.
U.S.-Ecuador Relations

6. (C) Under Secretary Carvajal said that the GOE had lost
political confidence in the U.S. because of accusations by
the U.S. of GOE collaboration with the FARC. In contrast,
Under Secretary Pena said that the Ecuadorian military had
good relations with the U.S., and that it infuriated him to
hear Ecuador being compared to Venezuela. Meacham asked each
of his government interlocutors what U.S. support would be
useful. Minister Bustamante stressed that Ecuador would
welcome economic, social and police assistance more than
military assistance. Asked about military needs, Carvajal
expressed reluctance to depend on the U.S., but after
Carvajal left the meeting, General Pena sounded receptive to
U.S. assistance.

Analysts' Views

7. (C) Political analyst Cesar Montufar said that the USG's
comments in support of Colombia were interpreted in Ecuador
as directed against Ecuador, resulting in "polarization, with
Venezuela and Ecuador on one side and the U.S. and Colombia
on the other." Montufar told Meacham that this political
polarization had "allowed the more radical elements in the
GOE to have a larger voice, which prompted the President's
more radical posture." Military analyst Berta Garcia added
that anti-American sentiment was a source of political
capital in Ecuador, and emphasized that Ecuadorians were very
protective of sovereignty. Franklin Barriga Lopez, Academic
Director of the Ecuadorian Institute of International
Relations Studies, commented that the presence of what he
termed "Cuban doctrinists" within the Ministry of Education
had spread leftist ideas, that he believed radical elements
within Ecuadorian society had launched verbal attacks on the
Manta Forward Operating Location (FOL) due to its
counter-drug success, and that political advisors from
Venezuela had what he considered close access to the Correa
administration.

Laptops and Investigations

8. (C) Minister Bustamante stressed that Ecuador would have
confidence in the documents allegedly contained in Reyes'
computers "only if they were analyzed by an impartial source
and handled in a transparent manner, rather than for
political ends as Colombia was doing." He further asserted
that once the GOE had access to the computer documents, it
would investigate.
Griffiths

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

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