Cablegate: Ecuador Trying to Stabilize Galapagos Park

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. Summary. The Minister of the Environment, Fabian
Valdivieso, is attempting to change the process for selecting
directors of the Galapagos National Park (GNP), hoping that
an independent procedure will purge politics from this
position and stabilize park management. The Minister
proposes hiring independent consultants to devise a
methodology for selecting potential candidates. The Embassy
is backing this approach, encouraging an independent and
transparent selection process. The Carter Center has invited
Valdivieso to visit its facility to begin laying the
groundwork for an international forum on the Galapagos that
the center is planning for next year. The situation in the
GNP remains calm. End Summary.

Proposed Format for Selecting Park Directors

2. Valdivieso has convened three meetings since announcing
his initiative to depoliticize the directorship of the GNP
(Reftel). He proposes hiring independent consultants to 1)
develop a manual for selecting, contracting, and evaluating
directors of the GNP, 2) draft a Presidential decree
incorporating the procedures manual into the selection
process, and 3) develop a short list of candidates to replace
the interim director. The consultants will also produce a
public relations strategy ensuring that there is sufficient
transparency in and support of the selection process.

3. The proposed consulting team will be comprised of three
people - a human resources specialist with at least five
years of international experience, an administrative law
specialist with knowledge of the norms and processes in the
Galapagos, and a communications specialist also familiar with
the problems of the Galapagos. Donors are suggesting that
Valdivieso use international consultants to maintain
independence in the process.

Embassy Promotes Stability from All Sides

4. The Embassy has always pushed conservation as the
overriding goal in the Galapagos. We are promoting the use
of international consultants in this selection process and
independent selection of the director to stabilize the GNP.

5. The DCM met with Valdivieso to reiterate this point.
Valdivieso commented that while the selection process is
critical for stabilizing leadership in the GNP, the
underlying problem also needs to be addressed - that is, the
fundamental conflict between fishing and conservation.
Industrial fishing cannot be sustained on the Galapagos and
those living off its ever-diminishing resources need to be
trained in other livelihoods. The DCM agreed but pointed out
that the world is watching and there is mounting pressure to
quickly stabilize the current situation. Valdivieso asked
that we lobby President Gutierrez on his behalf in order to
stabilize his position.

6. The Carter Center sent a letter to President Guiterrez
proposing an international forum to discuss the Galapagos.
The DCM urged Valdivieso to visit the Carter Center as soon
as possible to begin laying the groundwork for this forum.
The Carter Center is a neutral party that could bring
together donors and other interested parties to devise a
lasting solution for the Galapagos. The DCM also encouraged
Valdivieso to develop a public relations strategy to take
advantage of this trip, as well as other successes that arise
from this process. (Valdivieso tentatively plans to visit
Atlanta the week of October 25.)

7. The Embassy is also encouraging other countries to engage
the Ministry of the Environment on this topic. German
Embassy officials say they will soon begin bilateral
negotiations with Ecuador and that management of the
Galapagos will be an issue of discussion. The Canadians and
the British report that they are also pushing for stability
and conservation.

All Quiet on the Western Front

8. The truce between the fishermen and the GNP employees
seems to be holding, due in large part to the presence of
approximately 50 armed police at the GNP. The Embassy is
following the situation closely and will warn American
Citizens that live in or around the GNP to leave the area
should violence erupt.


9. Valdivieso, while sincere and well qualified, is
politically weak. With President Gutierrez publicly and
privately signaling a post-electoral cabinet adjustment, we
fear Valdivieso may not be around long enough to oversee this
process. For this reason, we are advising him to visit the
Carter Center in the hope that his visit may bolster his
public standing and boost the selection process, and lay the
groundwork for a definitive solution to the Galapagos problem.


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