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Cablegate: Indigenous Organizations Focused Inward

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 QUITO 000586

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL EC
SUBJECT: INDIGENOUS ORGANIZATIONS FOCUSED INWARD


1. Summary: Our outreach efforts confirm the impression
that major indigenous groups are focused inward for the
moment. None joined the Quito anti-government marches on
February 16, leaving that to Pachakutik, the political party
associated with CONAIE. This does not signify a break
between CONAIE and Pachakutik, we are told, just different
roles. Most indigenous groups remain skeptical of a Free
Trade Agreement with the U.S. and critical of Plan Colombia,
but open to dialogue with us. End Summary.

CONAIE Focused on Rebuilding
----------------------------

2. Santiago De La Cruz, CONAIE's new national
vice-president, told PolChief and PolOff on March 10 that, in
the face of the GoE's divide-and-rule tactics, CONAIE's top
priority now is to rebuild its grass roots support. All
other issues, including CONAIE's efforts to put an FTA with
the U.S. to a referendum, are "second-level."

Suffering GoE-Inflicted Losses
------------------------------

3. CONAIE and its affiliates, including the Sierra-based
ECUARUNARI, are clearly resentful of the GoE's
divide-and-rule tactics. De La Cruz and ECUARUNARI's
vice-president Raul Ilaquiche complained harshly about having
lost the leadership of government indigenous institutions
CONAIE had won through its street actions. These government
institutions include CONDENPE (dedicated to promoting
indigenous development), DINEIB (indigenous and bilingual
education division of the Ministry of Education) and the
Ministry of Public Health's Indigenous Health division. All
are now led by pro-government indigenous or ex-military
leaders. CONAIE asked the USG to intervene with the
President to get CONAIE representatives back in these
government institutions.

4. De La Cruz said CONAIE opposes the government, not
because its political alliance with Gutierrez ended, but
because the GoE has persecuted CONAIE, fomenting division
within the organization. CONAIE would want to see signs of
reconciliation from the GoE before reconsidering political
dialogue. While CONAIE opposes this government, he said, it
is not seeking "chaos, or a state within a state", but
"justice, equality, and true democracy." CONAIE's De La Cruz
criticized the President's increasing control over all three
branches of government, with a pro-government majority in
Congress and the recent re-vamping of the Supreme Court.
Discrimination against indigenous remains widespread, he said.

Opposition to an FTA
--------------------

5. CONAIE and ECUARUNARI leaders believe the Ecuadorian
people do not know what an FTA's effects will be and,
therefore, feel Ecuador is not ready for an FTA. They also
feel that Ecuador is not competitive economically to benefit
from an FTA. In a March 7 meeting, Ilaquiche told PolChief
and PolOff that indigenous groups have collected the number
of signatures needed (800,000) to send a referendum on the
FTA to Congress. De La Cruz also stated CONAIE is opposed to
Plan Colombia because they feel the military presence on the
Northern Border is negatively affecting indigenous
communities there.

Others More Moderate
--------------------

6. FENOCIN, an indigenous campesino group whose goals are
more economically focused, is less threatened by, and
therefore less opposed to, the current government. In a
March 10 meeting, FENOCIN's President Pedro De La Cruz told
PolChief FENOCIN generally supports the Socialist Party,
which is currently allied to the government, and, less so,
the Pachakutik Party. FENOCIN, while skeptical of the
effects of an FTA, is open to dialogue on the subject.
Indigenous participation leader Angel Medina of the Q'ellkaj
Foundation took a different tack, faulting CONAIE president
Luis Macas for his overly ideological anti-FTA posturing.
What young, enterprising indigenous want, according to
Medina, is not protection from free trade, but assistance to
help them profit from it.

Comment
-------

7. The GoE's tactics to divide and weaken CONAIE are clearly
having the intended effect. They currently seemed more
focused on re-building their grass roots support than on
taking actions to remove the government. CONAIE's new
leadership seemed open to dialogue with the Embassy, while
maintaining their distance from certain USG priorities. We
will continue to promote respect for constitutional democracy
and will provide indigenous leaders more information on the
benefits of an FTA. End Comment.

Bio Notes
---------

8. Santiago De La Cruz, age 37, is new to the national
indigenous leadership, and an impressive representative of
the younger generation of indigenous leaders. An eloquent
defender of indigenous rights, he also appeared eager to
engage in dialogue with us. He is the first Chachi Indian
(from Esmeraldas province) to be elected to the CONAIE board.
De La Cruz was nominated by the CONAIE's coastal affiliate
CONAICE. De La Cruz seemed very interested in the
possibility of visiting the U.S. on an exchange program.
While opposed to several USG policies, he said he believed
the U.S. was "not all bad." De La Cruz received a degree in
Education from Esmeraldas Technical University in February
2005.

9. Raul Ilaquiche, an IVP grantee, said he had recently
represented Ecuador at OAS Indigenous Declaration talks. He
implied the U.S. delegation had been obstructionist and were
replaced during recent talks in D.C. Ilaquiche also said
Ecuador would host an Andean indigenous conference in the
fall.
KENNEY

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