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Cablegate: Bucaram Brother Denies Any Deal On Return

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

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 GUAYAQUIL 001323

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PINR ETRD EC
SUBJECT: BUCARAM BROTHER DENIES ANY DEAL ON RETURN

REF: GUAYAQUIL 00489

1. (SBU) Summary: On November 16, former Presidential
candidate Jacobo Bucaram shared his views with Guayaquil CG
on the situation within the Roldosista Party (PRE) headed by
his brother, ex-President Abdala Bucaram. Jacobo offered no
predictions about the return of his exiled brother from
Panama and claimed no deals have been made with President
Gutierrez to make this happen. He denied any connection
between the PRE's support for the President in his fight
against impeachment, and Abdala's possible return. As
usual, Jacobo denied any further personal political
ambitions and was most animated when discussing agricultural
issues, expressing concern about the effect of an FTA with
the U.S. on Ecuadorian farmers. End Summary.

Don't Look at Me
----------------

2. (SBU) As is his wont, Jacobo made it perfectly clear
once again that he is not a party insider and has no real
interest in politics. Explaining his own relatively
impressive political history, he said there were certain
things he had to do out of obligation to his younger
brother, Abdala. He expressed a much stronger personal
preference for his position as rector of the Agricultural
University and as a private agriculturalist.

No Deal on Return
-----------------

3. (SBU) Jacobo said his brother Abdala would return when
he was ready to face the legal situation confronting him in
Ecuador and suggested that this President could not offer
sufficient insulation from possible prosecution on pending
corruption charges.

PRE Down After Local Elections
------------------------------

4. Bucaram acknowledged the PRE had lost considerable
ground in the October 17 sectional elections (reftel),
expressing neither surprise nor offering excuses. Without
Abdala, the party had no real leadership, he said. When CG
pointed out that PRE candidate for mayor of Guayaquil, Jimmy
Jairala, had received nearly 30 percent of the vote running
against popular PSC incumbent mayor Jaime Nebot, Bucaram
replied that was because he was Jimmy Jairala, TV
personality, and not because he was representing the PRE.

2006 Presidential Contenders Don't Include Bucaram
--------------------------------------------- -----

5. (SBU) He stated that Alvaro Noboa (PRIAN) was clearly
the front runner for the 2006 presidential elections, helped
by his second place finish in 2002, large sums of cash and
an organization that is already working to accomplish this.
He said former vice president Leon Roldos would probably run
again but he gave him no chance of winning. Bucaram claimed
that previous PSC candidate for President, Xavier Neira,
would be a strong candidate, saying that among the
contenders last time Jacobo found him to be the most
intelligent and capable. Bucaram also did not rule out
another run for the presidency by PSC Chief Leon Febres-
Cordero (LFC) who he said would also be a strong candidate.
LFC has "so much power in so many places" that he could
conceivably win the presidency again. Jacobo said he had no
interest in running and did not offer a name for a PRE
candidate other than Abdala, should he return.


Worried About FTA Ag Impact
---------------------------

6. (SBU) Jacobo also commented on the recently completed
fifth round of the Free trade negotiations in Guayaquil.
Although he believes that a free trade agreement will and
should be passed, he also expressed his strong concern about
the potential damage this will bring to the small scale milk
and cattle producers of Ecuador. He claimed that some three
million people would be negatively affected by damage to
those sectors. He did not dwell on the issue of U.S.
agricultural subsidies, simply stating that small Ecuadorian
producers were not competitive and were not likely to become
so in the short term.

Comment
-------

7. (SBU) Jacobo's apparent lack of personal passion for
Abdala's return stands in stark contrast to the party's
official devotion to such an event. He strikes us as
realistic about the prospects of any deal that might bring
Abdala back to Ecuador, where he faces open legal charges,
and gave the impression that his brother was not the kind of
person to place himself at risk. He gave no indication that
any deal has been made with the President or his supporters
nor does he give the impression that if one were to be
negotiated he would be a player in the process. Bucaram's
favorable mention of Neira, was surprising to us. Most
Guayaquil observers that we have spoken to do not share such
a positive view.

8. (SBU) Jacobo Bucaram bears the name but doesn't carry
the flame of Abdala. Although he agreed to run for
President in 2002, he convincingly claims no real interest
in politics; and his public and private actions support that
position. Jacobo does not act as a spokesperson for the PRE
or seek out the press. In conversation he only warmed
noticeably when discussing immediate family, agriculture and
his 200-plus hectare farm where he experiments with various
crops and raises livestock.

HERBERT

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