Cablegate: Ecuador Focused On Tip
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 002762
FOR G/TIP, WHA/PPC, WHA/AND
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PREL PGOV EC
SUBJECT: Ecuador Focused on TIP
REF: QUITO 2506
1. Summary: Ecuadorian leaders have recently shown renewed
vigor in their effort to battle trafficking in persons and
help trafficking victims. Under the direction of Ecuador's
First Lady, Maria Paret de Palacio, the government-funded
child and family welfare agency INNFA is leading the charge.
Energized by the visit of Latin pop star Ricky Martin and
his foundation that champions child welfare causes, INNFA
distributed anti-TIP material at Martin's concert and will
sign a cooperation agreement with the foundation. It has
also sought cooperative agreements with NGOs including two
shelters that will receive TIP victims. INNFA will launch
its anti-TIP multi-media campaign after the holidays. Not
to be upstaged, the Ministry of Government's media campaign
against sexual tourism is scheduled to begin at the same
time. Several training sessions have boosted awareness of
TIP within the law enforcement community and police have
logged several new arrests under the TIP law passed in June.
The media has proved an important ally in the government's
stepped-up fight against TIP. End Summary.
2. Ecuador's First Lady promised to spearhead a TIP
awareness campaign after Ecuador's Tier Three rating was
announced in the summer. Although the campaign did not get
underway during Ecuador's 90-day grace period, INNFA
President and presidential spouse Paret has since encouraged
her staff to press for progress in prevention and protection
efforts for TIP victims. She personally managed the
creation of anti-TIP posters, radio and TV spots at a cost
of $16,000 and appealed to stations for free airtime. A
crew of 15 INNFA volunteers turned out at a Ricky Martin
concert last month to distribute specially designed
postcards to every concertgoer. The postcard warned of the
dangers of trafficking, the consequences for traffickers and
provided a phone number for information or help. INNFA also
set up booths in the concert hall where it showed Ricky
Martin Foundation and INNFA TIP television spots. From his
Washington office Ecuadorian Ambassador Luis Gallegos also
has been pushing the country's anti-TIP agenda. He linked
INNFA with the Ricky Martin opportunity and will meet with a
USAID representative to discuss TIP.
3. Ricky Martin Foundation Director Angel Saltos said that
the foundation's first joint project with INNFA would be the
release of Ricky Martin TV spots about exploitation of
children carrying the number of an INNFA helpline. While in
Quito, the Foundation also announced a joint project with
Microsoft to protect children from Internet-related dangers.
Saltos said the foundation would work with Ecuadorian
government leaders to teach children about safe use of the
Internet and teachers and community leaders about how to
catch cyberspace criminals. Microsoft has also pledged to
cooperate in police investigations. The Foundation has
already received a request from the Quito prosecutor's
office for technical assistance in a child pornography case.
4. Taking a major step forward on protection of victims,
INNFA has signed agreements with Casa Mathilda and
Talitakumi, two NGO shelters that will open their doors to
house and rehabilitate TIP victims. INNFA also supports
Fundacion Mensajeros de la Paz, a shelter in Cuenca that has
expressed commitment to TIP. In addition, First Lady Paret
has promised the International Labor Organization (ILO)
support for a new shelter in Machala. The ILO and the
Quimera Foundation have housed victims of TIP in a Machala
juvenile detention center for lack of a true shelter. The
TIP Working Group is coordinating specialized training for
shelter workers with the International Organization for
Migration (IOM). Ecuador has also been conferring with IOM
regarding the organization's TIP hotline (1-800 line) best
MOG Aims to Stop Sexual Tourism at the Door
5. In early November, head of the MOG Office for Gender
Issues met with her GOE colleagues from INNFA, the National
Council for Women and Children (CONAMU) and other members of
the American Bar Association's governing board to fine- tune
their poster campaign for transit terminals and highways.
While ABA provided technical assistance for the project, GOE
board members selected the poster designs to convey the
serious consequences facing sexual tourists. The package
included traditional posters and life-size cutouts of
Ecuadorian police officers warning would-be traffickers or
sexual tourists, in both Spanish and English.
Police Start to Understand and Apply TIP Law
6. Recent conferences trained a cadre of police officers in
Quito and Cuenca, Ecuador's third-largest city, on TIP.
Attorney General Cecilia Armas made a commitment to fight
trafficking at one of the conferences sponsored by CONAMU
and another GOE organization for children and adolescents,
CNNA. In addition to police, this conference drew 250
participants representing NGOs and governmental social
service agencies. The ABA also held training for 10 judges,
12 police and 12 prosecutors in Cuenca. The training
included practical group exercises in which participants
role-played scenarios based on actual TIP cases.
7. In a meeting with DOJ and DHS officials concerning
migrant smuggling, Armas, the President's Communications
Director Jose Toledo, and President's Chief of staff Jose
Modesto Apolo, expressed interest in fortifying the special
vetted unit that investigates smuggling and TIP cases.
Toledo pledged to pursue additional funding needed to
enlarge the unit and open offices in Cuenca and Guayaquil.
8. Several TIP arrests have been made under the new law.
Major Mery Jimenez, commander of the child welfare police
(DINAPEN) for the Pichincha Province and recent participant
in the International Visitors Program, reported that three
persons were arrested in Quito during Thanksgiving week for
prostituting minors. DINAPEN rescued 8 girls and 4 adults
in the raid. The victims had been seeking legitimate work
when a phony employment agency sold them to the clubs for
$30 to $100 each. Another man remains in custody in Quito
for prostituting juveniles and presenting false documents to
conceal their actual ages.
Media Interest on the Rise
9. Major media outlets have amplified the government's new
efforts against TIP, with at least one or two articles or
broadcast programs every week. Weekly newsmagazine
"Vistazo," in cooperation with PAS, ran a report on young
indigenous girls being sold into slavery in Venezuela. The
article featured commentary by Embassy officials and
highlighted the Department's 2005 TIP report, and Ecuador's
recent steps to confront child sexual exploitation rings.
TV news magazines "Esta Clarito" and "30 Minutos Plus" have
done reports on sexual tourism and forced prostitution. The
"El Comercio" national daily reported on a study in the city
of Santo Domingo de los Colorados by the International
Children's Defense Organization (DNI) that told of sexual
exploitation of boys and girls in exchange for food or
inhalants. The article also spoke of child pornography
victims. DINAPEN is investigating in Santo Domingo.
10. We are encouraged by evidence that Ecuador is taking
its first serious steps in the areas of prevention,
protection and prosecution. GOE leaders -- led by INNFA --
understand the need for cooperation with NGOs, and are
putting that cooperation to work for victims. We will
continue to encourage this type of coordination. We also
will encourage greater cooperation between governmental
agencies and offices. The Ministry of Government has agreed
to jumpstart the inter-institutional commission charged with
drafting a national plan to combat TIP, inviting Embassy TIP
working group members to an initial meeting on December 8.
We will encourage the MFA to play a more active role within
the commission, as the Ambassador suggested to Foreign
Minister Carrion (see reftel).