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Cablegate: Carrion's Mfa Refocuses Ecuador's Foreign Policy

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UNCLAS QUITO 002078

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SENSITIVE
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E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL EC
SUBJECT: CARRION'S MFA REFOCUSES ECUADOR'S FOREIGN POLICY

REF: A. QUITO 00646
B. QUITO 01112

1. (SBU) Summary: Since taking office in October 2005,
Foreign Minister Francisco Carrion, Ecuador's top career
diplomat, has attempted to restore credibility to the
ministry by reversing the politicization and decline of the
diplomatic corps under his immediate predecessors. Part of
this process involved vigorously and publicly defending
Ecuadorian national interests against perceived slights from
Colombia (fumigation) and the U.S. (criticizing our human
rights and terrorism reports). Another important departure
by Carrion entailed convoking foreign policy elites,
academics, and civil society to plot the nation's foreign
policy through 2020, dubbed the National Foreign Policy Plan
2006-2020 (PLANEX). PLANEX mastermind Amb. Javier Ponce told
us recently that the document, due for release this fall,
will seek to shift and broaden Ecuador's foreign policy focus
on conflict with neighboring Peru and Ecuador's traditional
multilateralism to a more strategic framework with emphasis
on relations with the U.S., Asia and Spain/Europe. It will
include a call for denying any foreign troop presence on
Ecuadorian soil, an oblique but not definitive reference to
the U.S. Forward Operating Location (FOL) in Manta. End
Summary.

Carrion's MFA
-------------

2. (SBU) Carrion's elevation to foreign minister came after
a serious degradation of relations with the U.S. and Colombia
under his predecessor, Antonio Parra, and marked the return
to power of Ecuador's traditional foreign affairs elite.
Carrion, the grandson of a cultural and literary icon, has
restored the ministry's prestige and energized its regional
diplomacy. He has been largely successful in rebuilding
relations with Colombia and with boosting morale within the
MFA's ranks. His natural left-of-center affinities still
place him at odds with some U.S. policies, but he recognizes
the importance of the U.S. relationship and has put it back
on a more cordial, professional and productive footing. Part
of his personal credibility here derives from Carrion's
vigorous defense of perceived Ecuadorian sovereign interests,
publicly playing off hyper-nationalistic sentiment. For
example, he publicly and strenuously took issue with USG
criticism of the GOE in the annual human rights and terror
reports (RefTels). Privately, Carrion has been much more
measured, preserving a respectful and open tone to the
bilateral dialogue.

3. (SBU) Partly as a result of his public criticism of U.S.
and Colombian actions on several fronts, Carrion is widely
respected here as a champion of Ecuadorian sovereignty and is
considered one of Palacio's strongest ministers. Some here
now believe that Carrion might remain in office should
frontrunning candidate Leon Roldos win the presidency.
Carrion is considered close to the Democratic Left party
leadership, which is supporting Roldos.

Towards a New Foreign Policy Agenda
-----------------------------------

4. (SBU) Carrion asked fellow career diplomat Ambassador
Javier Ponce to lead the brainstorming process to develop a
new, forward-looking foreign policy document based on
consensus. The consensus-based PLANEX review of national
objectives has entailed a seminar series (more than 15),
bringing together panels of experts drawn from government and
civil society (some from abroad) to focus on different
foreign policy issues. The objective is to seek consensus on
the challenges facing Ecuador and to inform an outcome
document, scheduled to be released this fall. The first
draft of the document is already circulating, and Ponce
revealed some of the substance in the 150-page draft during a
meeting with PolOffs on August 4.

5. (SBU) Typical of the Carrion inner circle, which cut its
teeth on resolution of the 50-year border dispute with Peru,
Ponce is a Harvard-educated diplomat who claims to seek to
leverage the nation's relationship with the U.S. to advance
democracy, stability, and economic development in Ecuador.
In doing so, however, Ponce favored speakers who are
decidedly critical of USG policies, assuring a final product
that is skeptical of USG motives but committed to further
engagement in the name of Ecuador's national interests.
Ponce contrasts this outlook with Ecuador's traditional
foreign
policy, which has been almost exclusively focused on
conflict with Peru, and seeking small country refuge in
multilateralism and regionalism.

PLANEX Objectives
-----------------

6. (U) The intent of this exercise, according to Ponce, is
to provide the incoming government with the benefit of
considered wisdom, thereby institutionalizing the main lines
of Ecuador's foreign policy. It aims to develop a permanent
foreign policy framework to defend national sovereignty and
Ecuadorian territory; protect Ecuadorians living abroad;
consolidate national identity; develop an international
system more just and democratic (that preserves peace, equal
distribution of wealth, and ecological preservation); and
more effectively insert Ecuador in the international
community to help consolidate democracy, respect for human
rights, sustainable development, and security of citizens in
Ecuador.

--Security: Preservation of territorial integrity based on
existing agreements that set national borders; fortify
capacity to control transnational crime; define function of
armed services (ensure that they don't assume police
functions -- language we understand to be partially directed
at limiting military engagement in support of USG
counternarcotics goals); establish consensus that no foreign
military should have a permanent presence in Ecuador;
formulate criteria for Ecuadorian participation in
peacekeeping operations and fortify capacity to contribute to
humanitarian missions. PLANEX documents offer some further
detail, by theme:

--Immigrant Protection: The protection of Ecuadorians and
their families living abroad. Protection of refugees
resident in Ecuador.

--Democracy and Human Rights: International training and
cooperation to strengthen state institutions (Congress,
judiciary, police etc.); establish permanent mechanisms to
fulfill decisions, efforts, and presentations of reports to
organizations created by international human rights
instruments; and harmonize national legislation with
international human rights instruments subscribed to by
Ecuador.

--Colombia: Prevent the regionalization of Colombian
conflict; continued respect for the principle of
non-intervention in the affairs of other states; coordination
with other neighbors of Colombia on migration, border
integration, and control of criminal organizations and
illegal trafficking of persons of goods; work with regional
organizations to find a peaceful solution to the Colombian
conflict; and consolidate a relationship of friendship and
cooperation through cultural, social, and economic
integration, with special attention to energy, tourism, and
commercial integration.

--International Economic Relations and Regional Integration:
Economic, social, and cultural integration of Latin America
is a top priority. Achieved through CAN, South American
Nations, Rio Group, SELA, and ALADI. Increase economic ties
with the EU through an FTA with CAN countries. Increase
development cooperation to consolidate democratic
institutions, human rights, environmental protection, and
social and economic development for impoverished Ecuadorians.

--International Cooperation and Development: Improve
capacity of Ecuador's diplomatic service; reduce the
proportion of political appointees as Ambassadors; form
permanent trade negotiating teams; review diplomatic presence
abroad; and improve foreign policy coordination with civil
society.

PLANEX: U.S.-Ecuadorian Relations
---------------------------------

7. (U) Recognizing Ecuador's chronic political and
development challenges, Carrion hopes to use PLANEX to focus
Ecuador's bilateral relationships more strategically.
According to Ponce, Carrion and others here recognize the
"obvious" failings of multilateral organizations and their
inability to advance change in underdeveloped countries like
Ecuador. Carrion therefore seeks to refocus Ecuador's
relations on key bilateral partners; Colombia, Peru, Spain,
and the United States.

8. (SBU) Another focus of the PLANEX outcome document,
according to Ponce, will be on Ecuador's democratic
consolidation, respect for human rights, protection for
Ecuadorian citizens living in the U.S., access of Ecuadorian
products to the U.S. market, and bilateral and multilateral
cooperation to combat transnational crime. Rather than
addressing short-term challenges (he mentioned the FOL, FTA,
ATPDEA extension), the PLANEX document would choose instead
to focus on broader, more long-term interests.

9. (SBU) In an oblique reference to the FOL, Ponce said the
PLANEX document would argue that no foreign soldiers should
be permitted in Ecuador. (He admitted that it could be
argued that FOL employees are not soldiers but technicians in
the joint fight against drugs.) To meet its own security
needs, the GOE hopes to develop indigenous capacity building
mechanisms to help Ecuador monitor narco-trafficking for
itself. Ponce criticized the historic role of the military
here, given its direct role in the fall of Ecuador's last
three presidents. U.S. military assistance, he said, could
also be viewed as a threat to stability, since it reinforces
the independence of the military. (Note: Carrion and
Defense Minister Oswaldo Jarrin are considered close allies
within the cabinet. Jarrin's Defense White Paper was
published on August 10 (Septel) and like Carrion's PLANEX,
purports to be Ecuador's first comprehensive defense policy
review since it ended its border conflict with Peru in 1998.)


USG Interests
-------------

10. (SBU) Carrion has had notable success restoring
credibility and prestige to the foreign ministry during his
short tenure, and PLANEX is clearly a worthy exercise from an
Ecuadorian perspective. But could it end up affecting us
negatively? The document certainly reflects the general
ideological orientation of Ecuador's foreign policy
establishment which does not fully embrace USG perspectives.
The PLANEX results might initially guide the next
government's policy, depending on who wins the election,
either by formal adoption or less formally as an inherited
political template. As such it has the potential to harm USG
interests by limiting the room for maneuver of a pro-U.S.
administration, particularly on Manta. It also has (lesser)
potential to help us by constraining the actions of a
government more overtly hostile to U.S. interests.

11. (SBU) Since the PLANEX document is non-binding, future
governments will be free to invoke or ignore it as they see
fit. But as an accurate reflection of prevailing policy
opinion across most of the political spectrum, it portends
challenges likely to be faced by the USG in advancing some of
our bilateral and regional counternarcotics and
counterterrorism objectives.
JEWELL

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