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Cablegate: Ecuador President Gutierrez Visits Colombia

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

id: 14494
date: 3/2/2004 22:05
refid: 04BOGOTA2840
origin: Embassy Bogota
classification: CONFIDENTIAL
destination:
header:
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.


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

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BOGOTA 002840

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/19/2014
TAGS: PREL ECON PTER PREF CO EC
SUBJECT: ECUADOR PRESIDENT GUTIERREZ VISITS COLOMBIA


Classified By: Political Counselor E. Alex Lee, Reasons: 1.4 B & D.

1. (SBU) Summary: In a two-day visit to Colombia, Ecuador's
President Lucio Gutierrez met with President Alvaro Uribe, FM
Carolina Barco, Bogota Mayor Lucho Garzon, and business
leaders; spoke to a joint session of Congress; and was
honored with Colombia's highest medal. Border control,
immigration, and trade were the public themes of the visit.
While many issues between the two nations are thorny, the two
heads of state enjoy an amicable relationship. Gutierrez
made a surprise endorsement of reelection for Uribe. End
summary.

2. (SBU) President Lucio Gutierrez made his first official
visit to Colombia March 16-17. Uribe and Gutierrez signed a
44 point joint declaration (emailed to WHA/AND) which, inter
alia, called for additional efforts to combat terrorism,
information sharing along the border, and a new association
agreement between the Andean Pact and Mercosur. Uribe and
Gutierrez also announced installation of a Colombian Marine
Corps base at the confluence of the San Miguel and Putumayo
Rivers and the continuation of stationing GOC citizen
soldiers (soldados campesinos) along the border. Gutierrez
was circumspect regarding the capture of FARC leader "Simon
Trinidad" in Quito in late December. Gutierrez recognized
the problem of flow of arms from Ecuador to Colombia, but
stressed that the weapons were of foreign origin. (Note:
Gutierrez's comment spoke to GOC public speculation last year
that a rocket used in a FARC assassination attempt in Bogota
came from an Ecuadorian Army arsenal. End Note.)

3. (SBU) Uribe formally thanked Gutierrez for humanitarian
protection for Colombians seeking refuge in Ecuador.
(Comment: During a PRM visit in early March to Ecuador, a GOE
Foreign Ministry official lamented that the GOC had never
publicly thanked Ecuador for the assistance they have
provided to Colombian citizens seeking refuge. End Comment.)
Gutierrez lamented that undocumented Colombians working in
Ecuador were exposed to exploitation. (Comment: The flow of
asylum seekers from Colombia to Ecuador this year is 900 per
month, down from 1200 per month last year but still up from
2002. End Comment.) The Presidents agreed to take the
following steps to address migration and refugee issues:

--Beginning April 1, Colombians entering Ecuador will be
required to present a document verifying their good standing
with the GOC, after a security background check is conducted.
--Beginning December 31, 2005, Colombians will be required to
present an Andean passport, or, failing that, a Colombian
passport.
--After analyzing the large displacement of Colombians to
Ecuador, both Presidents will request that international
organizations provide assistance to this population,
including arranging voluntary return to Colombia. The GOC's
Social Solidarity Network, which coordinates assistance to
the displaced, will assist them in Colombia.

4. (SBU) Colombia is Ecuador's second largest trading
partner, and Gutierrez expressed hope that Ecuador's
bilateral trade deficit might be reduced. In a speech to
local businessmen, Gutierrez asked them to buy Ecuadorian
products. He said that he hoped to see Colombian investment
in oil production, hydroelectric development, agriculture,
highways, and tourism. GOC MFA Director of Multilateral
Economic, Social, and Environmental Affairs, Ambassador Fabio
Ocasiones, characterized the Presidents' agreement to work
toward lowering the cost of electricity as one of the visit's
most important outcomes. Ocasiones explained that in the
two-way market for electricity, Ecuador is the primary
consumer and that Colombia charges more per unit sold.
According to Ocasiones, Ecuador will be the primary
beneficiary of the agreement. At the same meeting with
businessmen, Gutierrez unexpectedly endorsed reelection for
Uribe.

5. (C) Comment: The December Simon Trinidad arrest was a
major boost for Ecuador in the minds of both the GOC and the
Colombian public. In more than one meeting with us during
the last two months, President Uribe praised Gutierrez for
the arrest and stressed that while working-level strains
continued, he and Gutierrez maintained a strong and cordial
relationship. Regarding illegal flow of arms, in a private
discussion with poloff, Ocasiones (protect) expressed concern
that some of the 8,000 Ecuadorian troops stationed near the
border are currently involved in the trafficking of arms and
chemical precursors.
DRUCKER

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

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