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Cablegate: Embassies Quito and Bogota Seek to Improve Cross-Border

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C O N F I D E N T I A L QUITO 000935

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 2019/11/05
TAGS: PREL EAID MASS SNAR PTER ASEC EC CO
SUBJECT: Embassies Quito and Bogota Seek to Improve Cross-Border
Cooperation

REF: QUITO 903; QUITO 887; BOGOTA 3011...


id: 233422
date: 11/5/2009 23:27
refid: 09QUITO935
origin: Embassy Quito
classification: CONFIDENTIAL
destination: 09BOGOTA3011|09QUITO887|09QUITO903
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C O N F I D E N T I A L QUITO 000935

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 2019/11/05
TAGS: PREL EAID MASS SNAR PTER ASEC EC CO
SUBJECT: Embassies Quito and Bogota Seek to Improve Cross-Border
Cooperation

REF: QUITO 903; QUITO 887; BOGOTA 3011

CLASSIFIED BY: Heather Hodges, Ambassador; REASON: 1.4(B), (D)

1. (C) SUMMARY: An interagency group from Embassy Quito traveled
to Bogota on September 24-25 to explore possibilities to improve
regional USG coordination as well as opportunities to improve
communication and cooperation between the governments of Ecuador
and Colombia. The visit yielded a list of potential initiatives,
and both embassies are currently developing strategies of
engagement and funding sources. The timing for the USG to play a
role in facilitating improved relations between Ecuador and
Colombia is the best it has been since the breaking of relations in
March 2008. This message has been coordinated with Embassy Bogota.
END SUMMARY.

---------------------------------------

EMBASSIES QUITO AND BOGOTA JOIN EFFORTS

---------------------------------------

2. (SBU) On September 24-25, a delegation from Embassy Quito's
Northern Border Working Group ("NBWG") visited Bogota and met with
Embassy Bogota counterparts and Government of Colombia (GOC)
officials. The goal of the visit was to explore ways to improve
security, development, and humanitarian conditions in the border
region.

3. (C) The visit was timely as Ecuador and Colombia issued a joint
communique on September 24 on the margins of the UN General
Assembly in New York, establishing 11 points toward normalizing
relations between the two countries. Counterparts in the GOC
seemed particularly interested in USG support of cross-border
communication and cooperation. Embassy Quito cautioned that the
Government of Ecuador (GOE) would likely be reluctant to expand a
USG role significantly. However, the country teams of both
embassies have subsequently worked to generate ideas to foster
continued rapprochement between the GOC and GOE.

--------------------

TIME TO MOVE FORWARD

--------------------

4. (C) Despite the setback of a provincial criminal court judge
issuing an arrest warrant against Colombian Armed Forces Chief
Freddy Padilla -- in addition to the warrant previously issued by
another judge on the same court against former Defense Minister
Juan Manuel Santos -- both governments still appear committed to
moving the process of normalizing relations forward (Ref A), as
reflected in what was reported to be a productive meeting between
the Ecuadorian and Colombian foreign ministers on November 3 in
Cotacachi, Ecuador. The atmosphere was further improved on
November 4 when the judge who had issued the Padilla arrest warrant
revoked the warrants against both Padilla and Santos. Therefore,
Embassies Quito and Bogota propose moving forward with
consultations with the GOE and GOC with the objective of
implementing at least a few enhanced cooperation proposals in the
short term, while looking for opportunities to implement others
thereafter.

--------------------------------------------- -----


JOINT INITIATIVES TO FACILITATE IMPROVED RELATIONS

--------------------------------------------- -----

5. (SBU) The Country Teams of Quito and Bogota have prioritized a
list of initiatives that were determined to have the most traction
with both governments in the short-term, broken into security,
development, internally displaced persons/refugees, and public
affairs components. The lead section and/or agency is identified
after each initiative.

SECURITY COMPONENT:

a) Joint Training: Send military and police officers from the GOE
and GOC to the United States, Colombia and/or Ecuador for joint
training programs. The goals of joint training are to improve
military and police cooperation, and to provide a broad range of
bilateral joint training opportunities on canines, ports, jungle
training, judicial police, immigration police, etc. (Lead:
MILGRP/NAS/ATF)

b) Counter Improvised Explosive Devices (CIED): Provide the GOE
CIED technical assistance to address the growing problem of
cross-border manufacture, transportation and use of improvised
explosive devices (IEDs). (Lead: ATF/LEGAT/MILGRP/NAS/DEA)

c) Security Briefings: Non-USG experts could provide briefings to
GOE on the complexity of the GOC's security concerns and
challenges. (Lead: POL/DAO)

d) Trilateral Cooperation: Promote trilateral security cooperation
between the GOE, GOC and the Government of Peru (GOP). The GOC and
GOE have worked separately and effectively with the GOP on border
issues and this success could be constructive to the
Colombia-Ecuador relationship. Consider trilateral cooperation
with the Government of Mexico. (Lead: POL/DAO/MILGRP)

DEVELOPMENT COMPONENT:

a) Bilateral Indigenous Issue: Increase cooperation in the cross
border program between the Colombia and Ecuador USAID missions
related to the Awa and Cofan indigenous populations with ancestral
lands that span the Colombia-Ecuador border (program implemented by
the World Wildlife Federation/Colombia and Wildlife Conservation
Society/Ecuador). (Lead: USAID)

b) Local Governance:

-- Strengthening. USAID Ecuador will soon begin a new local
governance strengthening program in 30 municipalities, 20 of which
will be in the northern border area. Programming will include
improving financial management, training municipal level
governments, and alternatives to the illegal economy. USAID Bogota
has had similar programs in 15 municipalities over the past four
years in Narino and Putumayo. (Lead: USAID)

-- Cross-border visits. USAID in both countries could fund


confidence building visits by mayors and other elected officials in
the border area (e.g., the mayors of Ipiales and Tumaco and Narino
Governor Navarro Wolf with their Ecuadorian counterparts) to take
confidence building tours of the other side of the border and to
discuss development initiatives. At least one meeting of local
officials on the two sides of the border already took place without
USG support. The two USAID missions will share experiences and
coordinate on these programs. Similar efforts by the Carter Center
could be leveraged. (Lead: USAID)

c) Regional Value Chain Strengthening: USAID Ecuador/Colombia will
look to collaborate and align programming in key, co-dependent
agricultural sectors. (Lead: USAID)

-- USAID Ecuador focuses on key agriculture and horticulture
sectors that benefit small producers in the region and aims to
increase income. Key sectors include cacao and coffee.

-- USAID Colombia works similarly in identical sectors under
Alternative Development programs. Much of the economy of Southern
Narino and Southern Putumayo is dependent on Ecuador for access to
regional and international markets (e.g., most cacao and artisanal
fishing output in Tumaco is exported directly to northern Ecuador.)

-- ACDI/VOCA implements specialty coffee programs for both USAID
missions. The two missions will work to increase communication
between the two initiatives to better understand how each work
strategically in complimentary markets.

d) Interagency Conflict Assessment Framework (ICAF): Work with
USAID counterparts in Washington to conduct an ICAF assessment of
Ecuador's northern border region. This could generate
justification for future funding requests as well as additional
ideas for interagency programming. Embassy Quito has already
initiated the process of an ICAF with S/CRS and USAID Washington.
(Lead: USAID)

e) CSDI/NBWG Cooperation: Promote technical information sharing on
the GOC's National Consolidation Plan, supported by Embassy
Bogota's Colombia Strategic Development Initiative (CSDI), focusing
specifically on the role of central and civilian-led government
presence, linking security and development programs (quick impact
confidence building packages) in pre-selected cities and/or areas
along Ecuador's northern border. (Lead: USAID/POL)

INTERNALLY DISPLACED PERSONS (IDP)/REFUGEES COMPONENT:

a) Colombian Refugees in Ecuador: Promote the two governments'
efforts to address the humanitarian situation for Colombian
refugees as identified in the joint Colombia-Ecuador 11 point road
map released on September 24. Continue support of the recent
improvements in refugee policy, protection, and assistance in
Ecuador, while ensuring adequate adherence to international
conventions, such as observing the exclusion for links to armed
conflict. The excellent working relationships UNHCR and IOM
maintain with the respective governments also could be leveraged in
this effort, as well as conversations in the U.S.-Ecuador Bilateral
Dialogue. (Lead: POL/USAID)

PUBLIC AFFAIRS COMPONENT:

a) Exchanges: Promote an international visitor program and


educational exchanges between the two countries. Establish sister
cities exchanges between students and residents in the border area.
(Lead: PAS/MILGRP)

-------------------------

LONGER TERM POSSIBILITIES

-------------------------

6. (SBU) Embassies Quito and Bogota will explore the possibility
of implementing the following initiatives:

a) Section 1207 Proposal: Consider a 1207 funding proposal for
Ecuador focused on improved security capabilities, with emphasis on
training police and military officials who operate on the border,
improved interagency cooperation (between security forces and Plan
Ecuador), and legal reform. (Lead: POL/MILGRP/USAID)

b) Immigration Police: Provide technical assistance to establish
legal and operational procedures for deporting individuals
illegally present in Ecuador. (Lead: DHS)

c) Strategic Communications: Develop a combined public
communications strategy for use along the border area, emphasizing
the rule of law and the consequences of engaging in illicit
activity. Promote a positive image of cooperation between the GOE
and the GOC. (Lead: PAS/MILGRP)

d) Border Immigration Biometric Equipment and Databases: Consider
funding biometric equipment and separate database projects in each
country. Sharing data between the GOE and the GOC may not be
realistic for the foreseeable future. However, even separate
databases could be used to identify members of illegal armed
groups. (Lead: DEA/LEGAT/ICE)

-------

COMMENT

-------

7. (C) Embassies Quito and Bogota recognize that implementing each
initiative will require an effective engagement strategy and
commitment by each of the governments; this is especially true with
the GOE. We welcome Department input on the proposed initiatives
and, where appropriate, may seek assistance in pursuing funding for
their implementation.

8. (U) This cable was co-drafted and cleared by Embassy Bogota.
HODGES

=======================CABLE ENDS============================

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