Cablegate: Pro-Govt Congressional Majority Flexes Muscles

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: In a marathon session November 25, the new,
pro-government legislative majority bypassed President of
Congress Guillermo Landazuri's programmed agenda and elected
Jorge Montero second vice president. It then replaced the
members of the Constitutional Tribunal (TC) and the Supreme
Electoral Tribunal (TSE), an attack on the Social Christian
Party, which before had controlled the TC and heavily
influenced TSE decisions. Both moves drew fire from the
now-minority opposition. End Summary.

2. On November 25, the new Congressional majority (SP, PRE,
PRIAN, MPD-PSE, DP and independents) elected Jorge Montero
(CFP) as the second vice president of Congress. The vote
tally showed 55 votes in favor, 32 abstentions and one vote
for another candidate. Montero will hold this post, vacant
for nearly two years, only until January 2005, when all
Congressional leadership positions turn over. This vote
followed the majority's earlier procedural motion to "appeal"
Guillermo Landazuri's leadership of the session, thus
sidelining the Democratic Left (ID) leader and allowing
changes to the day's legislative agenda.

3. Going well past midnight, the new majority revamped the
TC's and TSE's membership. They cited as grounds for the TC
restructuring the fact that in March 2003, its members were
approved in a block, an unconstitutional act. The TC changes
dealt a blow to PSC, which lost control of the institution.
Of the seven members removed (from nine total), five,
including the president, were PSC. The others were from
Pachakutik and ID. PSC-affiliated court members earlier had
ruled against the D'Hondt method of legislative seat
allocations, harming small party representation and earning
it the ire of Ecuador's numerous minority institutions. The
newly elected TC judges will hold their posts until January

4. During the session, opposition (PSC, ID and Pachakutik)
deputies fought a procedural defense, claiming that a
"political trial", not a resolution, was required to revamp
court membership (the former requires a two-thirds vote, the
latter, only a majority). Sitting TC judges shared this
opinion, claiming there was no legal grounds for removal by

5. After the fact, opposition-affiliated politicians and
business leaders protested loudly. Ex-TC President Oswaldo
Cevallos denounced the replacement of TC and TSE members as
illegal, threatening to file complaints with international
human rights courts. Close Embassy contact Luis Fernando
Torres, a PSC deputy, purportedly claimed that Free Trade
Agreement concerns were behind the TC purge (the TC will rule
on its constitutionality), but offered few details. Business
leader Blasco Penaherrera claimed the reorganization was
unconstitutional and akin to a coup d'etat. Labor and the
indigenous differed in opinion, with FEINE, FENOCIN, and FUT
supporting the court putsch.

6. According to media accounts, the new majority also hopes
to elect a new attorney general, comptroller general and
human rights ombudsman, possibly in January 2005. To elect a
new AG, 51 votes are needed, while 67 are needed for the
other two posts. Currently the majority has a base of 54
votes. In its drive to reach 67, the majority hopes soon to
convert Pachakutik, currently controlling 10 votes.


7. The new majority in Congress seems intent on seeking
revenge against the PSC and, to a lesser extent, ID. Parties
of all stripes had railed against the Social Christians for
its alleged control of Ecuador's highest courts. These
latest maneuvers thus come as no surprise. The grounds cited
to purge the TC are dubious, however, as our glance through
Ecuador's constitution shows no distinction between voting on
individuals and candidate slates. But in "pick and choose
the law to apply" Ecuador, this too is no surprise.

© Scoop Media

World Headlines


Myanmar: Military Must Stop Murdering And Jailing Protestors – Bachelet

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on Thursday said security forces in Myanmar must “halt their vicious crackdown on peaceful protestors,” following another day of deadly violence across the country on Wednesday... More>>

Syria: Economic Decline, Rising Hunger And Surging Humanitarian Needs

Syria’s fragile economy has “suffered multiple shocks” over the past 18 months, with its currency plummeting and joblessness swelling as people struggle to cover their basic needs, the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator told the Security Council ... More>>

OECD: Final Quarter Of 2020 Shows Continued Recovery In G20 International Merchandise Trade

G20 international merchandise trade continued to rebound in the fourth quarter of 2020 ( exports up 7.2% and imports up 6.8%), following the sharp falls seen in the first half of 2020, as lockdown measures affected trade globally. Although growth ... More>>

Focus On: UN SDGs

UNFCCC: Greater Climate Ambition Urged As Initial NDC Synthesis Report Is Published

UN Climate Change today published the Initial NDC Synthesis Report, showing nations must redouble efforts and submit stronger, more ambitious national climate action plans in 2021 if they’re to achieve the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global temperature rise by 2°C—ideally 1.5°C—by the end of the century... More>>

2021: Critical Year To ‘reset Our Relationship With Nature’ – UN Chief

During this time of “crisis and fragility”, the UN chief told the United Nations Environment Assembly on Monday that human well-being and prosperity can be vastly improved by prioritizing nature-based solutions. Painting a picture of the turmoil ... More>>

Paris Agreement: UN Secretary-General António Guterres To Mark U.S. Reentry With Envoy For Climate John Kerry

Watch live at UN Secretary-General António Guterres will join U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John F. Kerry at an event marking the United States’ reentry into the Paris Agreement this Friday. The discussion with the Secretary-General ... More>>