Cablegate: Gutierrez Cancels New York Trip
UNCLAS QUITO 002868
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL EC
SUBJECT: GUTIERREZ CANCELS NEW YORK TRIP
REF: GUAYAQUIL 1231
1. Summary. On October 27, President Gutierrez told the
Ambassador he had canceled his planned early November trip to
New York in order to work in Ecuador on judicial reform
projects and programs to spur economic growth. Gutierrez
hopes the press will portray his decision as a need to focus
on important national issues and not as a fear of leaving the
country in light of impeachment rumors. End Summary.
2. In an October 27 meeting with the Ambassador, Gutierrez
informed her he had canceled his trip to New York. Gutierrez
had planned to travel on November 1 to meet with business
leaders and promote trade with Ecuador.
3. Gutierrez told the Ambassador he envisions judicial
reform and economic growth to be his legacy. Gutierrez said
he plans to work over the Ecuadorian holiday weekend (October
30 - November 3) and was particularly concerned about
corruption in the judicial system. He wants to stop the
common practice of people filing legal complaints (often
without much cause) as a means of retaliation.
4. Gutierrez also recognized that the media might portray
the cancellation of his trip as a victory for the Social
Christian Party (PSC) in its efforts to impeach him for
alleged inappropriate use of public funds for campaign travel
(Reftel). The Ambassador suggested that if pressed,
Gutierrez tell the press that she recommended he not travel
at this time due to elections in the U.S. on November 2.
Moreover, he had recently met with USTR negotiator Regina
Vargo to discuss commercial and labor issues and was in
regular touch with other USG officials (Septel).
5. Comment. We believe Gutierrez made the right decision by
staying home to work. He would have trouble getting the
meetings he wants on such short notice, with potential U.S.
interlocutors focused on elections. He has a full
international calendar in November with the Ibero American
Summit, CAN events, and President Fox's visit. Finally, as
Ecuador suffers from rampant corruption and grave poverty,
any dedicated time spent on judicial reform and programs to
spur economic growth is time well spent. End Comment.