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Cablegate: A/S Shannon Meeting with President Evo Morales

VZCZCXRO2966
PP RUEHLMC
DE RUEHLP #1667/01 2171730
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 041730Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY LA PAZ
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8143
INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 8206
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 5562
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 9501
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES 6721
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 3817
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA 4101
RUEHME/AMEMBASSY MEXICO 2289
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO 5653
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 6436
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 1166
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL 0856
RUEHRI/AMCONSUL RIO DE JANEIRO 1011
RUEHSO/AMCONSUL SAO PAULO 2286
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEHUB/USINT HAVANA 1321
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
RHMFISS/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RUMIAAA/USCINCSO MIAMI FL
RUEHLMC/MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORP
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 LA PAZ 001667

SIPDIS

PASS TO USAID/LAC DAVID JOHNSON, JOANN LAWRENCE

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/05/2018
TAGS: ASEC EAID ECON PGOV PREL PTER SNAR BL
SUBJECT: A/S SHANNON MEETING WITH PRESIDENT EVO MORALES

REF: LA PAZ 1498

Classified By: Amb. Philip S. Goldberg for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

1. (C) Summary: WHA A/S Shannon, accompanied by INL PDAS
McGlynn, the Ambassador, DCM, and Emboff, met at 5 a.m. on
July 23 with Bolivian President Evo Morales, who was
accompanied by Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca, Minister
of Government Alfredo Rada, Presidential Spokesman Ivan
Canelas, and Bolivian Ambassador to the U.S. Mario Gustavo
Guzman. Morales expressed his regret for the June 9 march on
the Embassy and its aftermath and acknowledged that Bolivia
"needs" the U.S. However, he also cited "proofs" of a USG
conspiracy against him and his government. Assuring Morales
that there was no USG conspiracy against him, A/S Shannon
agreed that the two countries should work together to build a
climate of confidence, using bilateral consultations as a
mechanism to achieve this end. After the Morales meeting A/S
Shannon and delegation held meetings with Bolivian Senate
President Oscar Ortiz and President of the Congress Edmundo
Novillo. End summary.

EVO FEARS A CONSPIRACY
----------------------

2. (C) President Morales opened the meeting by saying he
viewed this as a chance to improve relations with the USG.
Evo said he wanted to be "sincere" and to say up front "I do
not believe in the capitalist system." He remarked that his
government is one of dialogue and then went on to talk
about his belief that the United States was conspiring
against his government. Morales complained that "since the
90s the Department of State has described me as a
narco-trafficker as a narco mafia, and I have been called the
Andean Bin Laden" by former Ambassador Rocha. He then cited
a litany of events that he argued proved the hostile intent
of the United States. Morales also expressed concern about
how USAID's resources are spent. Morales said he had been
told that USAID offers money to Movement Toward Socialism
(MAS) mayors for them to switch to opposition party Podemos.
According to Morales, "Bolivian employees of USAID go
door-to-door in northern Potosi telling people if they get
rid of Evo the economy is going to get better." Evo said
that one mayor told him that USAID offered him $15,000 to
$25,000 dollars to oppose Evo. Evo closed his opening
remarks by saying "currently there is a conspiracy led by the
U.S. Embassy against my security, against my government.

A/S SHANNON RESPONDS
--------------------

3. (C) A/S Shannon said that the United States was
committed to the success of Bolivian democracy and the
Bolivian people and had no interest that would justify a
conspiracy against the Morales government. He noted that he
had no interest in receiving Morales, list of supposed
conspiratorial behavior, but rather would like to point out
how the USG has been trying to work with the Morales
administration. Shannon mentioned President Bush's
congratulatory phone call after Morales' election and the
meeting held with Secretary Rice. The A/S highlighted how
the USG has modified its anti-narcotics tactics to work with
the GOB, re-certified the GOB, and extended ATPDA benefits.
He also noted that the USG had worked with multilateral
development banks to forgive $1 billion in loans owed by
Bolivia. Shannon told Morales that "we have no interest in
creating conflicts or political chaos in Bolivia. Our
Ambassador and officers will meet with various groups, but it
is not to conspire against you." Shannon said that Bolivia

LA PAZ 00001667 002 OF 003


and the United States are in a "critical moment in our
relationship" and that he wanted security guarantees for
USAID and the Peace Corps so as "to be able to continue with
these programs."

STOP THE CONSPIRACY AND GIVE US THE CASH
----------------------------------------

4. (C) President Morales responded that "if the conspiracy
stops then we can begin a new relationship based on our
proposed agenda." Evo said that "only 20% to 30% of USAID
money reaches the people, why don't you support the 'Bolivia
Cambia, Evo Cumple' (Bolivia Changes, Evo Delivers) program
instead?" Evo insisted that the Venezuelan-supported program
is "sound and transparent" and that USAID should redirect its
money there. The president brought up ATPDA and asked for a
five year extension and an eventual "just and beneficial"
long term trade deal. With regard to Millennium Challenge
Account (MCC), Evo asked the A/S "to just tell me the truth"
about the political decision to freeze the program. Morales
said that Brazil and Hugo Chavez are allies that will help
with the road projects but that he hasn't given up hope on
MCC.

DRUGS, USAID, AND THE CHAPARE
-----------------------------

5. (C) Morales complained that people are trying to link
his government to the FARC and that his government is not
being noticed for its respect for human rights. Evo told
Shannon, "I recognize that in the Yungas there has been an
increase in coca production. For political reasons there is
not much we can do." Morales also said that he regrets the
amount of drugs leaving the country. He criticized
USAID's involvement in the Chapare, saying that USAID set up
parallel organizations to the coca unions and that it works
with local mayors against the coca federation. The president
says that he receives letters "from all over the country
asking me to remove USAID."

AMERICAN JUSTICE
----------------

6. (C) Evo said that people speak well of the American
justice system so therefore he "cannot believe that you would
have those two delinquents (Sanchez de Lozada and Sanchez
Berzain) there. "People are upset, you should expel them. I
tell you this, send back Goni and you will become the mayor
of El Alto."

CHOQUEHUANCA SPEAKS
-------------------

7. (C) Foreign Minister Choquehuanca said "we want to
reestablish confidence. We want American cooperation to be
strictly economic and to be part of the 'Bolivia Cambia, Evo
Cumple' program." Choquehuanca said the GOB was finishing
the Sanchez de Lozada (Goni) extradition request and that it
should be ready by August. He asked that Bolivia be
re-certified and that "our efforts be recognized, especially
our respect for human rights." The Foreign Minister
mentioned establishing exchange programs because the current
USG programs "are not transparent and we are suspicious when
scholarship students are asked to spy on us."

LET'S START ANEW
----------------

8. (C) A/S Shannon ended the meeting by saying that we

LA PAZ 00001667 003 OF 003


would study the GOB's proposed agenda and add our own points.
He suggested that subsequently dates for bilateral
consultations could be established. Evo said that his friend
President Lula gave him some good advice, "have lots of
patience. If you tell me to separate out the conspiracies
than that's what we will do. We will not break relations.
We will continue to put up with and bear these things. I
regret that my brothers and sisters from El Alto went down to
the Embassy (to try and break into the compound on June 9)
and I recognize that my country needs you."

SENATE PRESIDENT OSCAR ORTIZ
----------------------------

9. (C) Immediately following the Morales meeting A/S
Shannon and delegation met with Senate President Oscar Ortiz
(Podemos - Santa Cruz). Ortiz stressed the importance of the
senate being "one of the only institutions not in the hands
of the MAS." He told Shannon that "democracy is under heavy
attack" and that time is passing by quickly. The August 10
revoking referendum "will only ratify the deep divisions in
the country and Evo will lose in five departments." The
senator expressed concern about "overt" Venezuelan influence
and the possibility of voter registration fraud. He
chastised the OAS for "coming here last week and making
irresponsible declarations regarding voter registration
records." Ortiz predicted that "eventually the economic
crisis in the country will overtake any political crisis."
When asked about dialogue to find a solution to the current
political crisis Ortiz responded that the opposition wanted a
solution through dialogue and that he had spoken to Vice
President Garcia Linera about this. "However," Ortiz said,
"it takes two to tango." He hopes the "friends of Bolivia"
would be expanded to include the European Union and lamented
the increase in drug trafficking and the fact that "the
Brazilians and the European Union tolerate it."

PRESIDENT OF THE CONGRESS EDMUNDO NOVILLO
-----------------------------------------

10. (C) A/S Shannon also met with the President of the
Congress Edmundo Novillo (MAS - Cochabamba). Novillo said
that the August 10 referendum "will not solve the political
crisis" and that the people do not understand what it is
because "a revoking referendum is something new for the
country." He admitted that "this process of change has
generated uncertainty." When asked what role the congress
could play in resolving the crisis Novillo was pessimistic,
saying that "the polarization is strong, too strong, within
the congress." Regarding Bolivia - U.S. relations Novillo
said he thought it is a good time to reevaluate all aspects
of the relationship with an eye toward common interests. He
said the U.S. should realize "there are suspicions within the
government and within the population because the
relationships with past governments." Novillo said that
anti-narcotics cooperation "is a difficult topic" and that it
is necessary to have a mutually agreed upon agenda. He
recognized that USAID's alternative development programs have
had "a certain amount of success" but that the money could
and should be better invested.

11. (U) Assistant Secretary Shannon has cleared this cable.
GOLDBERG

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