Search

 

Cablegate: Correa and Social Movements: Attacks From the Left?

INFO LOG-00 AF-00 AID-00 AMAD-00 CIAE-00 INL-00 DODE-00
ANHR-00 DS-00 EAP-00 DHSE-00 OIGO-00 VCI-00 H-00
TEDE-00 INR-00 LAB-01 L-00 MOFM-00 MOF-00 VCIE-00
NSAE-00 ISN-00 NSCE-00 NIMA-00 MCC-00 ISNE-00 DOHS-00
FMPC-00 SP-00 IRM-00 SSO-00 SS-00 NCTC-00 CBP-00
R-00 SCRS-00 DSCC-00 PRM-00 DRL-00 NFAT-00 SAS-00
FA-00 SWCI-00 PESU-00 SANA-00 /001W

O R 130005Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY QUITO
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0324
INFO AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
AMEMBASSY BRASILIA
DEPT OF LABOR WASHINGTON DC
AMEMBASSY CARACAS
AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL
AMEMBASSY LA PAZ
AMEMBASSY LIMA
AMEMBASSY QUITO

C O N F I D E N T I A L QUITO 000951


E.O. 12958: DECL: 2019/11/12
TAGS: PGOV ELAB EC
SUBJECT: CORREA AND SOCIAL MOVEMENTS: ATTACKS FROM THE LEFT?

REF: QUITO 877

CLASSIFIED BY: Andrew Chritton, Charge d'Affaires; REASON: 1.4(D)

1. (...


id: 234456
date: 11/13/2009 0:05
refid: 09QUITO951
origin: Embassy Quito
classification: CONFIDENTIAL
destination: 09QUITO877
header:
INFO LOG-00 AF-00 AID-00 AMAD-00 CIAE-00 INL-00 DODE-00
ANHR-00 DS-00 EAP-00 DHSE-00 OIGO-00 VCI-00 H-00
TEDE-00 INR-00 LAB-01 L-00 MOFM-00 MOF-00 VCIE-00
NSAE-00 ISN-00 NSCE-00 NIMA-00 MCC-00 ISNE-00 DOHS-00
FMPC-00 SP-00 IRM-00 SSO-00 SS-00 NCTC-00 CBP-00
R-00 SCRS-00 DSCC-00 PRM-00 DRL-00 NFAT-00 SAS-00
FA-00 SWCI-00 PESU-00 SANA-00 /001W

O R 130005Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY QUITO
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0324
INFO AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
AMEMBASSY BRASILIA
DEPT OF LABOR WASHINGTON DC
AMEMBASSY CARACAS
AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL
AMEMBASSY LA PAZ
AMEMBASSY LIMA
AMEMBASSY QUITO


----------------- header ends ----------------

C O N F I D E N T I A L QUITO 000951


E.O. 12958: DECL: 2019/11/12
TAGS: PGOV ELAB EC
SUBJECT: CORREA AND SOCIAL MOVEMENTS: ATTACKS FROM THE LEFT?

REF: QUITO 877

CLASSIFIED BY: Andrew Chritton, Charge d'Affaires; REASON: 1.4(D)

1. (C) SUMMARY. President Rafael Correa now faces strong but
fragmented opposition from leftist groups that were part of his
political base. In the last few months, the GOE has confronted
striking teachers, students, and indigenous groups. In each case,
Correa has come to the table for dialogue with these groups, but
complicated those dialogues by continuing his verbal blasts
accusing them of everything from ignorance and selfishness to
"infantile" behavior and manipulation by his enemies on the right.
In the end, Correa has probably chosen his battles wisely, since
many of these organizations do not have much support from the
general population. END SUMMARY.


------------------
Advantage: Correa
------------------

2. (C) Embassy contacts are almost uniform in their analysis that,
despite a growing dislike for some of his rude public commentary,
Correa's resolve when faced with protests from his left wing is
generally good for Correa and for Ecuador, with its history of
instability and governments held hostage by these interest groups.
He has managed to divide each of the protesting groups by opening
dialogues with some of the organizers, leaving other factions
unhappy but weakened. After the death of the indigenous protester
in September, police are extremely cautious about reacting to
protests with force, but are in the streets to maintain order.
(Note: Preliminary reports indicate the protestor was likely
killed by another protestor. End note) Government ministers have
clearly warned against the interruption of public services.

3. (SBU) Correa is balancing his willingness to dialogue with
repeated verbal sallies accusing all of the protesting groups of
being on the "extreme left" and "doing the work of the rightists"
and "imperialists." In Bolivia last month for an ALBA meeting,
Correa said the unions and indigenous groups were "infantile", and
that their protests could actually impede the governments' attempts
to create real change. Each group of protesters has felt the
verbal lash of the presidency, who often takes them to task during
his weekly Saturday radio addresses.

4. (C) It is ironic that Correa, the self-proclaimed "21st century
socialist," is facing his most active opposition from the left of
the political spectrum, all the while accusing them of falling prey
to manipulation from the "rightists." Rumors in the indigenous
community suggest that corporate interests in Guayaquil, or the
losers in the last presidential election, funded the most violent
protests during the September indigenous strike. Although there is
no known evidence to back up that claim, it conforms exactly to
Correa's much-publicized fears that his citizens' revolution is
under attack from both sides.


-----------------------------------
Students and teachers march...again
-----------------------------------

5. (U) Both students and teachers have taken to the streets to
protest proposed laws on primary and secondary education and on
higher education. Students have been protesting on and off over
proposals in the Law on Higher Education, occasionally with some
violence. Organizers say 15,000 students took part in marches
nationwide on October 21. Students protesting the proposed Higher
Education Law did not like that universities will lose funds if the
accreditation board determines that a program fails to meet
academic standards, nor that rectors and "principal professors"
must hold PhDs, or the equivalent, in their field. University
rectors and a few student leaders had met with President Correa at
the presidential palace two days before the student strike, leaving
some university leaders satisfied enough to keep their institutions
away from the October 21 marches and sowing divisions among the
educational elite. Ongoing "tripartite" dialogue between
university representatives, the National Assembly, and the national
planning ministry (SENPLADES) kicked off on October 27. Already
some student leaders are unhappy, mostly because the universities
selected the leader of one student organization to attend the
dialogue. The leader of another student group called for his
organization to return to the streets, and protests continue the
week of November 9.

6. (SBU) The teachers have called for various strikes since March,
when the GOE moved forward on teacher testing, with students
protesting in larger numbers once the school year started this
fall. Again, Correa has managed the domestic disturbances with a
firm hand. The largest teachers' union, UNE, called for the latest
nationwide teachers' strike on September 15. Teachers did not like
the articles in the proposed Education Law that would require
changes to the career path and greater GOE control over the
curriculum, as well as putting the Executive's teacher testing
policy into law. Even during the biggest march in the capital,
however, most teachers remained in the classroom, leaving core UNE
members to hang banners outside the presidential palace. With
President Correa out of the country, the teachers' union met for
six hours of discussions on October 7 with Vice President Moreno,
then called off the strike. Moreno's agreement with UNE does not
substantially change the law, but among other minor revisions, will
give teachers who refused to be tested another opportunity, and
allows those who fail a chance to retire or to attend remedial
training with the Ministry of Education before taking the test
again.

7. (C) Many Ecuadorians seem to think that the teachers get too
many benefits without being held to any real standards, believing
that explains why education in Ecuador is so poor. Santiago Nieto
of the polling firm Informe Confidencial told the DCM and Poloffs
during a private briefing that over 60% of the population has a
negative view of UNE.


--------------------------------------------- ---------------------
Correa circles the wagons, then makes peace with indigenous groups
--------------------------------------------- ---------------------

8. (U) The GOE dialogue with indigenous groups is the longest
running of such talks. The GOE has reportedly reached agreement
with the largest indigenous organization, the Confederation of
Indigenous People of Ecuador (CONAIE), on a few points, including
some wording changes to the most contentious matter and the causus
belli of the initial strike, the proposed water law. At present,
the agreements reached appear to be more form than substance. The
indigenous demand for a halt to mining in two eastern provinces and
the investigation of the death of an indigenous protester at the
end of September will probably be the most contentious issues in
the dialogue. It was this death that shocked both the Government
and the protestors, and for the first time, brought Correa to the
bargaining table with a group opposing him. Before that incident,
Correa had insisted that CONAIE completely end the protests of all
its affiliate organizations before any discussions could start.
Within days of the death, CONAIE representatives and Correa held an
initial heated dialogue. After an exchange of un-pleasantries on
both sides, Correa handed the microphone to his more conciliatory
Vice President, Lenin Moreno, who eventually closed the marathon
session with the beginnings of a deal (Ref A and B).

9. (C) Sandra Guzman, a National Democratic Institute staffer, told
Poloffs that Ecuadorians recognize that the indigenous groups have
suffered from years of discrimination and have some sympathy for
their ongoing political activism. However, the general public does
not appreciate the civil disturbances and road closures, especially
when the GOE stays on the message that the indigenous groups are
misinformed, manipulated, and do not understand what is in the law.
Guzman noted that Correa, who sees himself as acting in the best
interests of the indigenous communities, will continue to manage
with a "mano duro" (firm hand). In her view, that will be the only
way to bring real change to Ecuador.

10. (U) The fissures between indigenous groups and among the
leadership of the indigenous movements have also helped Correa.
CONAIE could not keep its Amazonian affiliates, CONFENIAE, in line
when discussions to end the strike first began, leading to a very
public chastisement of CONAIE's leadership. Two of the other
national organizations representing indigenous groups, the
evangelical FEINE and labor-union base FENOCIN, publicly repudiated
CONAIE's actions and their ongoing dialogue with the GOE. Some
radicals, mostly within CONAIE, are apparently expecting the GOE to
agree to what are essentially mini-states within Ecuador, according
to Kleber Naula, an academic now working for Chimborazo province.
That kind of ideology, he said, will not attract more moderate,
non-indigenous support, and does not have the support of the two
other large indigenous organizations.


-----------------------------------------
Labor unions disgruntled but disorganized
-----------------------------------------

11. (C) Unionized workers currently only account for 2 percent or
less of the workforce, and Correa's proposed Law on Public
Enterprises would cut the number by roughly half. The draft
legislation prohibits public "technical and administrative" workers
and those in "strategic industries" from joining unions, which
includes everything from oil transportation workers to nursing
aides. Private sector workers are, for the moment, unaffected.
Despite the looming threat, labor representatives are apparently
unwilling or unable to organize into an effective opposition group,
and so far have mounted only a few small protests.

12. (C) Patricio Contreras and Samantha Tate of Solidarity Center,
an AFL-CIO-based group working across the labor spectrum, agree
that unions generally have a bad reputation all around. Younger
workers see them as either communist or irrelevant, and most
Ecuadorians seen them as essentially selfish actors. Most workers
in the country are in enterprises that are too small to unionize
(the minimum to form a union is 30 workers). A group of "young
turks" is seeking to energize the older and lethargic unions with
the creation of a new Inter-Union Committee to Defend Labor Rights
and are challenging the leadership of the largest union in court
over irregularities in the union elections. Meanwhile, room for
maneuver is rapidly shrinking for public sector workers as the
National Assembly gets closer to passing the law.


--------
COMMENT
--------

13. (C) The leftist groups' success in forcing the GOE to the table
for dialogue shows that President Correa considers disaffection on
the left a real threat. However, their success may be ephemeral
since the GOE apparently believes it can manage the dialogue
without making major concessions. At the end of the day, Correa
looks more moderate by agreeing to dialogue with the protesting
organizations, even while he continues to publicly haul them over
the coals. Recent editorials in the local press paint Correa as
more of a statist than a socialist given his ongoing attempts to
centralize government authority, an accusation that his erstwhile
supporters in the unions and minority groups probably support.


CHRITTON

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

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

IPPPR: The Independent Panel Calls For Urgent Reform Of Pandemic Prevention And Response Systems

Expert independent panel calls for urgent reform of pandemic prevention and response systems The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response is today calling on the global community to end the COVID-19 pandemic and adopt a series of bold and ... More>>

NGO Coalition On Human Rights: Call For A Stop To Police Brutality In Fiji

A viral video has circulated online showing two police officers utilising disproportionate and excessive force in detaining the suspect, an individual half their size. In the video it shows the man’s head being pressed down on the ground, his arms being ... More>>

UN: India’s New COVID-19 Wave Is Spreading Like ‘Wildfire’, Warns UN Children’s Fund

7 May 2021 A new wave of COVID-19 infections is spreading like “wildfire” across India, leaving many youngsters destitute, the UN Children’s Fund UNICEF said on Friday. In the last 24 hours, India registered 3,915 coronavirus deaths and 414,188 ... More>>

Focus On: UN SDGs

UN: Economic Recovery Under Threat Amid Surging COVID Cases And Lagging Vaccination In Poorer Countries

New York, 11 May — While the global growth outlook has improved, led by robust rebound in China and the United States, surging COVID-19 infections and inadequate vaccination progress in many countries threaten a broad-based recovery of the world ... More>>

Study: Cut Methane Emissions To Avert Global Temperature Rise

6 May 2021 Methane emissions caused by human activity can be reduced by up to 45 per cent this decade, thus helping to keep global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius in line with the Paris Agreement on climate change, according to a UN-backed ... More>>

UN: Learning From COVID-19, Forum To Highlight Critical Role Of Science, Technology And Innovation In Global Challenges

New York, 4 May —To build on the bold innovations in science, technology and innovations that produced life-saving solutions during the COVID-19 pandemic, the UN will bring together experts to highlight measures that can broaden the development and deployment ... More>>