Cablegate: Galapagos Park Leadership Potentially Destabilized

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. (U)Summary: The status of the leadership of the Galapagos National
Park (GNP) is uncertain, with Park Director Edwin Naula facing
possible dismissal. There are political motives behind the change
and we will continue to press for stability. The US Mission has
expressed concern at the highest levels of the government on the
impact of continued polarization of the park directorship on the
sustainability of donor investments, and reiterated the need for
technically qualified staff to lead the program. A continued ebbing
of park management undermines international conservation efforts,
threatens the archipelago's unique and fragile ecosystems, and raises
concerns on Ecuador's long-term ability to independently manage its
vital natural resources. Our efforts to prevent further instability
in the leadership may be frustrated; we continue to press for the
conservation and protection of the Park. End Summary.

Possible Replacement of Park Director

2. (U)Rumors of a park director replacement have been swirling for
several weeks. During this period, the Ambassador expressed concerns
about park stability with the Minister of the Environment. This same
message has been conveyed by AID with ministry officials and the
donor community.

3. (U)On September 7, the Ambassador met with Gutierrez to express
concerns about the importance of institutional stability for the
Park, donor concerns over rumors about the possible removal of the
Park Director, the importance of avoiding politicizing the park
leadership, and sustainability of USG investments. Gutierrez said he
had agreed about the importance of Park conservation.

4. (U)Naula has alleged there are political motives for his removal.
He told the ADCM that he had refused to step down unless Gutierrez
orders him directly. Later the day, however, press also reported
unconfirmed rumors that Gutierrez had in fact ordered the Minister of
Environment to fire Naula. That has still not happened, fueling

5. (U)GOE sources say a decision will be made shortly on the removal
of Naula. One candidate for the job is Fausto Cepeda, a former park
director who until recently served as an advisor to the fishing
sector in the Galapagos. He would not be ideal; some believe Cepeda
would be biased towards the fishing sector over conservation.

6. (U)The Galapagos Park Rangers Association has contacted our consular
agent in the Galapagos to voice concern over the politicization of
the park and requested USG intervention.

7. (U)The Embassy has repeatedly cautioned the GOE that the director
position must not be used as a political tool. Jimmy Carter made the
same points to Gutierrez during an August visit. We support the full
stability and protection of this unique environment. The position of
park director should be predicated solely upon qualified technical

USG Assistance

8. (U)The Galapagos has had 8 park directors in the last 18 months.
The constant turn-over has hampered the successful development of GOE
conservation programs. USG programs, foreign investment and
multilateral donations have also been adversely affected. The
ultimate victim of this instability has been the Park and its

9. (U)Fishermen from Baja California, Mexico are currently visiting
Galapagos fishing cooperatives under an exchange program financed
with USAID's marine reserve project. This exchange is aimed at
reducing conflict between environmental and fishing interests. The
Mexicans are sharing a world-class fisheries management model that
has successfully bridged the interests of government, fisheries, and
environmental groups. Additionally, two new USG initiatives are
under way: a) the creation of an environmental prosecutor unit in the
Galapagos Province and b) strengthening local government institutions
through the Galapagos Municipal Consortia.

10. (U)USAID co-chairs the donor round table and a one-day meeting will
take place on September 17 to discuss the Galapagos situation at the
request of UNDP. In addition to the international donor community,
the Ministry of Environment has been invited to attend.

11. (SBU) Comment: Despite our best efforts, it appears the
President may have decided to remove the Park Director. Also, there
are political motives for this change, as the President seeks to
mollify the political opposition (in this case we suspect PSC leader
Leon Febres Cordero) which is calling for his impeachment. We will
continue to press to ensure that any new director is qualified and
focused on conservation. End comment.


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