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Cablegate: Ecuador's Indigenous: Quiet but Confident

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




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) Summary: Battered by its early association with an
unpopular government it helped install, bruised by open
internal divisions, and hurt by a humiliatingly low turnout
in fizzled national protests in June, Ecuadorian indigenous
leaders might be expected to have low electoral expectations
for upcoming municipal elections. In fact, some indigenous
leaders defiantly claim the movement remains united and
strengthened by its travails, and warns that they will fight
against the Gutierrez government,s liberal economic
orthodoxy and an FTA with the U.S. Indigenous leaders also
warn they could yet be driven to "extremes" if conditions
worsen. Our view is the indigenous movement, as the only
force with proven capability to mobilize, remains vitally
relevant to political stability in Ecuador and should not be
counted out. End Summary.

In weakness, strength

2. (U) On August 17, PolCouns and PolOff met former FM Nina
Pacari, whose indigenous party, Pachakutik, broke its
alliance with President Gutierrez and left positions in his
government a year ago. Pacari insisted that despite poor
turnout during recent national protests and contrary to the
opinion of many political analysts here, the break with the
government and recent open divisions over whether to protest
the Gutierrez government have not seriously damaged the
indigenous movement. Instead, she believes the indigenous
movement emerged strengthened and "consolidated" after
Amazonian indigenous leaders were discredited and rejected by
their base for supporting Gutierrez. Many of those leaders
have now been replaced, according to Pacari. Pacari did
acknowledge that the movement learned a costly lesson by
participating in Gutierrez' government: that without
controlling the Presidency itself, the movement could not
achieve its goals.

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3. (U) Pachakutik,s national coordinator, Guilberto
Talahua, similarly claimed the indigenous movement is growing
stronger, especially at the local levels. He agrees that
their political bases are consolidated and stated that they
haven't lost their credibility. Pacari said that the media
wrongly assume the weakness of the movement. Instead, she
believed the indigenous movement suffers from an "image"
problem. Regarding the fizzled attempt at mobilization in
June, she said that while some of the national leaders
didn,t support it, the leaders at the lower levels reacted
and rejected pro-Gutierrez indigenous leaders.

From Partners to Kingmakers

4. (SBU) Pacari was very critical of Gutierrez saying
Gutierrez had committed worse offenses than former (corrupt)
President Bucaram. However, the movement is not interested
in getting rid of Gutierrez unless more "extreme" conditions
arise. She said the Social Christian Party (PSC) is waiting
for an opportune moment to get rid of Gutierrez and had
sought to enlist the help of the indigenous movement;
however, the indigenous are not interested in serving PSC
interests. She said that by getting rid of Presidents
Bucaram and Mahuad through protest the movement hat matured
and now realizes "change for the sake of change" is not worth
it unless there is someone better who can step in and respond
to the historic moment. Today, she said, conditions are not
right for an indigenous mobilization to oust the President.
However, she warned, Gutierrez, "divide and rule" approach
and neo-liberal policies could conceivably drive the country
to just the "extremes" that could provoke popular reaction.

5. (SBU) Minister of Government Raul Baca, told the
Ambassador on August 24 that despite the indigenous
movement's substantive differences with GOE policy, he
maintains an open door for dialogue with the indigenous. The
GOE is very pleased that the indigenous movement has chosen
to participate within the democratic electoral process
despite its bitter exit from the Gutierrez government a year

US Role Criticized

5. (SBU) Reacting to public pronouncements by the
Ambassador, Pacari criticized the US distinction between
supporting the institutions of democracy versus President
Gutierrez personally, saying that the two are inextricable.
She believed the US was acting like an "big brother" telling
Ecuador what form of democracy was best. She criticized
Gutierrez for being "subservient" to the US on issues such as
the FTA and said he would not fight for conditions favorable
to Ecuador. Pacari believes that Ecuador is not ready for a
FTA but claimed some personal credit for having led the
indigenous movement from outright rejection of free trade to
support for a ten-year moratorium to allow Ecuador to prepare
for any FTA with any country.

No Worries About Elections

6. (U) Pacari said the indigenous movement is now focused on
long-term goals and not worried about partisan electoral
results. Pachackutik would participate in upcoming elections
but were not suffering any "anguish" over the results. She
also said they would focus on working at the local level.
Talahua stated publicly that there has been and will be no
rapprochement with anyone in the current Government.


7. (SBU) While the indigenous movement may not be as united
as they were, their potential must not be discounted or
underestimated. While Gutierrez has proven skillful at
sowing division, the indigenous leaders are regrouping and in
our view, retain the potential for civil disturbance if
provoked. That said, Pacari,s complacency about the
upcoming municipal elections probably indicates confidence
that the indigenous will retain or extend its representation
in town halls where the indigenous are concentrated.
Regardless, economic and political conditions in Ecuador have
clearly not reached the "extremes" required to stir a
slumbering indigenous movement.

© Scoop Media

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