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Cablegate: Ecuador: 2008 Country Report On Terrorism

VZCZCXYZ0020
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHQT #1179/01 3572124
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 222124Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY QUITO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9807
INFO RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 7898
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 4060
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 3321
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ DEC LIMA 2962
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL 3999
RUEILB/NCTC WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL

UNCLAS QUITO 001179

SIPDIS

S/CT (RHONDA SHORE), NCTC

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PTER ASEC PGOV PREL EC CO
SUBJECT: ECUADOR: 2008 COUNTRY REPORT ON TERRORISM

REF: A. STATE 124815
B. STATE 120019

1. (U) Embassy submits the narrative in paragraphs 2-7 for
the 2008 Country Report on Terrorism:

2. (U) Ecuador's greatest counterterrorism and security
challenge remained the presence of Colombian narcotics and
insurgent/terrorist groups in the northern border region. In
order to evade Colombian military operations, these groups,
principally the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia
(FARC), regularly used Ecuadorian territory for rest,
recuperation, resupply, and training, as well as coca
processing and limited planting and production, thereby
involving significant numbers of Ecuadorians in direct or
indirect ways. The porous 450-mile border and the lack of
adequate licit employment opportunities for Ecuadorians in
the region have made the area vulnerable to narcoterrorist
influence and created a contraband economy. Ecuadorian
officials along the border believed the FARC,s economic
impact allowed it to buy silence and compliance.

3. (U) Ecuador stepped up its response to this threat,
although it continued to face constraints on resources and
limited capabilities. The Correa Administration, while
maintaining the country's traditional neutrality with respect
to the Colombian conflict, has stated it opposed armed
encroachments of any kind across its borders. A Colombian
attack in Ecuadorian territory on March 1 caused the
destruction of a FARC camp and the death of FARC Secretariat
member Raul Reyes. Colombian analysis of documents contained
within laptops recovered at the camp suggested elements
within the Ecuadorian government had connections to the FARC.
The Correa administration strongly denied ties to the FARC,
claiming that the only GOE contacts with the FARC were to
negotiate the release of hostages. The GOE has publicly
expressed its desire to eliminate FARC presence within
Ecuadorian territory. The government shifted troops in 2008
to the border region and continued to promote a domestic
northern border development agenda in concert with
international donors to spur economic development in the
area.

4. (U) Ecuador's security forces conducted operations against
FARC training and logistical resupply camps along the
northern border. The Ecuadorian military significantly
increased the number of operations in Ecuador's northern
border region. The operational tempo, which in early 2008
was already higher than in previous years, increased even
further after the March 1 attack. A total of over 100
battalion-level operations along the northern border led to
the discovery and destruction of 11 cocaine producing
laboratories, over 130 FARC facilities (bases, houses, and
resupply camps), the eradication of nine hectares of coca,
and the confiscation of weapons, communications equipment and
other support equipment. These operations also netted
valuable information on FARC activities and infrastructure in
and outside of Ecuador, and resulted in the detention of 20
FARC members and the killing of one FARC member during the
year. Despite increasing successes in this effort,
insufficient resources and the challenging border region
terrain made it difficult to thwart cross-border incursions.

5. (U) Ecuadorian police suspected several small and
relatively minor Ecuadorian groups of domestic subversion and
involvement in terrorism. A handful of small radical
Ecuadorian groups, including a self-proclaimed vestigial
faction of the Alfaro Vive Carajo! organization, are reputed
to have ties with and received support from Colombian
narcoterrorists. In 2007, Ecuadorian security forces
conducted operations against this faction of the Alfaro Vive
Carajo! organization in an attempt to minimize its capacity
to conduct subversive, disruptive, or terrorist activities.
In 2008, there emerged small but effective criminal units
whose focus is on various stages of narcotics production and
trafficking from within Colombia and through Esmeraldas,
Ecuador. Some elements of the FARC, National Liberation Army
(ELN) and United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC)
paramilitaries, among others, have transitioned into pursuing
purely criminal gang activity, including in Ecuador. Other
groups, although less active in the last couple of years,
include the Popular Combatants Group (GCP), the Revolutionary
Militia of the People (MRP), the Marxist-Leninist Party of
Ecuador (PCMLE), and the Alfarista Liberation Army (ELA).

6. (U) The Ecuadorian government continued to strengthen
controls over money laundering through the Financial
Intelligence Unit (FIU), which was established under a 2005
Money Laundering Law. The FIU is cooperating closely with
the Anti-Narcotics Police Directorate, the Superintendent of
Banks, the courts and the private banker association to
identify suspicious transactions and develop information for
the prosecution of cases.

7. (U) Ecuador's judicial institutions remained weak,
susceptible to corruption, and heavily backlogged with
pending cases. While the military and police have made
numerous arrests, the judicial system had a poor record of
achieving convictions.
HODGES

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