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Cablegate: Government Commission Report On Colombia Raises Criticism

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E.O. 12958: DECL: 2019/12/18
TAGS: PREL PGOV PTER SNAR MOPS EC CO
SUBJECT: Government Commission Report on Colombia Raises Criticism

REF: QUITO 1033

CLASSIFIED BY: Heather M. Hodges, Ambass...


id: 240727
date: 12/18/2009 20:18
refid: 09QUITO1045
origin: Embassy Quito
classification: SECRET//NOFORN
destination: 09QUITO1033
header:
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S E C R E T QUITO 001045

NOFORN
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 2019/12/18
TAGS: PREL PGOV PTER SNAR MOPS EC CO
SUBJECT: Government Commission Report on Colombia Raises Criticism

REF: QUITO 1033

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

1. (C) SUMMARY: A government-appointed commission on the 2008
Colombian military attack against a FARC camp in northern Ecuador
admitted that its report was not exhaustive, but defended it
against charges that it provided nothing new and lacked proof for
its conclusions. The GOE has stressed the report's conclusion
that, while certain individuals may have ties to the FARC, the GOE
did not. President Correa called for another reorganization of
Ecuador's intelligence services in response to unsubstantiated
allegations against the USG in the report. END SUMMARY.

Commission Defends Report

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

2. (C) Six days following the release of its report and amidst
extensive press coverage and other reactions, the Truth and
Transparency Commission on Angostura used a press conference on
December 15 to respond to ongoing criticism. The Commission
admitted that the report was not exhaustive, but defended the
report as fulfilling its mandate "to investigate the possible ties
of officials and former officials of the government to
narcotrafficking" and events surrounding the March 1, 2008
Colombian military attack against a FARC camp in Angostura,
Ecuador. The Commission complained that a lack of access and/or
time limited the Commission's ability to draw conclusions,
permitting only observations in numerous instances.

3. (C) On one point commission head Francisco Huerta acknowledged
that the Commission had erred, namely in alleging that former Latin
American Association of Human Rights (ALDHU) Director Juan de Dios
Parra and former Security Minister Gustavo Larrea approved the
clandestine departure of FARC member Nubia Calderon, survivor of
the March 2008 bombing.

President Orders Reorganization of Intelligence Services

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

4. (C) While asserting during his December 12 radio address that
he had not read the complete report, President Correa expressed his
disappointment that "the report really did not provide much new
information." Correa added that some former government officials
would have to respond to allegations of ties to the FARC. The
President conveniently overlooked the fact that current National
Assembly member Maria Augusta Calle, a member of the government's
Proud and Sovereign Fatherland (PAIS) movement, was also accused of
having FARC ties.

5. (S/NF) One element of delivery of the report was very much to
the GOE's liking. Commission head Huerta has emphasized that the
Commission "did not find any direct relations between the Rafael
Correa government and the FARC; only ties by former and current
government officials." Interestingly, one outspoken, pro-GOE and
anti-U.S. member of the Commission, Israel Batista, is a former
Cuban national who has immigrated to Ecuador, but reportedly still
travels frequently to Cuba on a Cuban passport.

6. (C) President Correa announced on December 14 that the GOE's
intelligence system would be restructured to delink it from foreign
influence. Correa complained that "information that (Ecuador

security services) had was passed to the U.S. Embassy and to
Colombia and not to the President of Ecuador." The GOE has not
announced any action to follow up on the President's declaration.
Correa had already restructured Ecuador's intelligence services for
the same reason earlier this year.

7. (SBU) Security Minister Miguel Carvajal stated on December 14
that the Executive was still studying the Commission's report, but
that certain points in it generated doubt, while others needed
further investigation. Carvajal highlighted the report's
conclusion that the Forward Operating Location (FOL) at Manta
collaborated in the Angostura attack (reftel). He also asserted
that the GOE would investigate whether certain GOE security agents
were aware of FARC presence in Angostura and the reasons why police
intelligence agents traveled to Colombia only days before the
attack in Angostura. For his part, Foreign Minister Fander Falconi
said on December 15 while on an official visit to Cuba that "a set
of questions has arisen regarding the quality of the sources used."

Other Fallout from Report

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

8. (C) The report was delivered the same day to the Presidency and
to the press, which drew harsh criticism from National Assembly
President Fernando Cordero, who asserted that the report should
have been delivered first to the Prosecutor General. Cordero
warned that if the Commission did not provide evidence supporting
many of its conclusions, the Assembly would not grant immunity to
the Commission.

9. (C) Individuals described in the report as having possible ties
to the FARC have been on the defensive. Former Security Minister
Gustavo Larrea fired back that he had been "a victim of unfounded
accusations, slander and persecution for two years." Former Under
Secretary of Government Jose Ignacio Chauvin called for the
Commission members to be investigated for slander and moral damage.
National Assembly member Maria Augusta Calle angrily stated that
"the members of the Commission will have to prove" their
allegations.

10. (C) Prosecutor General Washington Pesantez stated on December
16 that after a first analysis of the report, there was nothing new
to support further action on any issue already investigated by the
Prosecutor General's office. He added that the document did not
constitute proof of any crime. However, Pesantez promised to study
the contents of the report carefully and take action as necessary.
Commission Coordinator Huerta warned that anonymous sources may
have to be revealed if certain issues are investigated by the
Prosecutor General's office.

Comment

-------

11. (C) The Embassy's immediate press response was widely reported
and helped minimize damage from the report's allegations of a FOL
role in the March 2008 attack. Certain GOE officials will without
doubt continue to point to the Manta FOL allegation for personal
political gain and to divert attention from possible GOE ties to
the FARC. Legal action against those individuals cited in the
report for possible FARC ties appears unlikely. Security Minister

Carvajal will likely continue to pursue those people that the
report criticized for working closely with the U.S., which is cause
for concern. However, chances are that the report, like others
before it, will gradually fade from the public's attention with
little damage to the GOE or U.S.-Ecuador relations.
HODGES

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

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