Cablegate: Ecuador's Wave of Violence: Political Roots?
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 000589
STATE, PLEASE PASS TO DS/IP/WHA, DS/OSAC, DS/ITA, AND
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KDEM ASEC PTER EC
SUBJECT: ECUADOR'S WAVE OF VIOLENCE: POLITICAL ROOTS?
REF: QUITO 536
1. Summary: Almost a dozen prominent opponents of the GOE
have been victims of assaults since February 2004. The
attacks have taken place in two waves; the latest began in
December 2004, and the frequency of violence has increased
over the past two months. Ecuador recently agreed to the
Organization of American States' Interamerican Commission on
Human Rights' (CIDH) call to provide protection for seven
individuals believed to be at the great risk and agreed to
form a special unit to investigate. Opposition groups claim
the violent incidents represent a pattern of government
participation, although they lack evidence. Ecuadorian law
enforcement and military believe at least some of the cases
may be fraudulent. End Summary.
Most Notable Cases of Violence
2. The series of possibly politically-motivated violent
events began with the February 1, 2004, attack on Leonidas
Iza, president of CONAIE--Ecuador's largest indigenous
organization. Eight days later Carlos Munoz, president of
national television station Telesistema, was shot at and his
driver was killed. An improvised explosive device exploded
at the house of the president of the Supreme Tribunal
Electorate, Nicanor Moscoso, on February 18. On March 1,
Ivan Toral's, director of the newspaper El Tiempo, house was
shot at. There have been no arrests in any of these cases.
3. The violence dissipated temporarily, only to reappear on
December 15, when the offices of prominent businessman and
well-known government critic, Blasco Penaherrera, were shot
at. Former vice-president Leon Roldos was attacked by an
unruly leftist student mob on January 26, 2005, and a week
later unidentified suspects shot at the house of Quito city
council member Antonio Ricaurte's mother. Shortly
thereafter, a bomb exploded at a radio station owned by a
member of the Ecuadorian NGO and AID democracy program
grantee "Citizen Participation" (PC), and former government
minister Patricio Acosta suffered an attempted kidnapping.
Socialist congress member Enrique Ayala Mora was shot at on
March 5, and two days later PC's offices in Quito were
attacked (reftel). Two students were arrested on charges of
attempted aggression in Roldos' case, but no other arrests
have been made in any of these incidents.
Opposition Cries Foul
4. The opposition accused the government of carrying out the
aforementioned assaults for political reasons. One
left-leaning human rights group, ALDHU, claimed there have
been 43 cases of political violence during Gutierrez's term.
However, no evidence demonstrates the government's
involvement. The opposition does concede that the recent
attacks on Governor of Esmeraldas Rosa Cabezas and the
manager of the Guarantor of Deposits Agency Carlos Arboleda
prove that pro-government forced too have been attack victims.
Ecuadorian Government Responds to International Outcry
5. On February 25, the CIDH urged the GOE to provide
protective measures to seven people deemed "at risk"
including Penaherrera, Ricaurte, and Acosta. The CIDH urged
the government to determine what occurred in the previous
attacks, charge the perpetrators, and ensure victims receive
reparations. The government offered to meet with these
individuals on March 11 and has offered to provide
protection. Transparency International also expressed
concerned about "threats, aggressive behaviors, and attempts
. . . (in) a situation where the opposition is not being
confronted by the institutional framework but rather
6. GOE opponents like ALDHU have inflated the number of
cases of political violence, including incidents that are not
politically motivated in their count, and accused the
government of ordering the crimes, likely for their own
political gains. While they claim the government is behind
the attacks, initial results of investigations by the
Ecuadorian military and law enforcement authorities believe
that several of these cases may be fraudulent, perpetrated by
the victims themselves for personal and/or political gains.
We have encouraged the government to investigate these events
thoroughly and improve security measures.