Cablegate: Flacso: One Academic Institution's Ideas and People Permeate


DE RUEHQT #1202/01 3521848
R 181847Z DEC 09



E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) Summary: Meeting new government officials, or reading the
bios of long-standing ones, we are struck by how many of them come
out of one small university, namely FLACSO Ecuador. Many of these
individuals have more experience developing academic theories than
real world policy. This situation has positive and negative
ramifications for FLACSO itself, which attracts students and
attention but runs the risk of being too closely associated with
the results of the Correa government. End Summary.




2. (SBU) A disproportionate number of individuals formerly
affiliated with the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences
(FLACSO) in Quito now occupy senior levels of the Correa
government. Cabinet members from FLACSO include Coordinating
Minister for Security Miguel Carvajal, Foreign Minister Fander
Falconi, Coordinating Minister for Social Development Jeannette
Sanchez, Coordinating Minister for Production Nathalie Cely,
Coordinating Minister for Heritage Maria Fernanda Espinoza, and
National Planning Secretary Rene Ramirez. (Note: Each
coordinating minister oversees the work of several other
ministries. End Note.) Examples of FLACSO-affiliated individuals
elsewhere in the government are Ministry of Government and Police
Under Secretary Fredy Rivera, Constitutional Court president
Patricio Pazmino, National Assembly International Relations
Commission president Fernando Bustamante, and Quito mayor Augusto

3. (SBU) One reason for the government's strong FLACSO flavor is
that a group of leftist FLACSO professors prepared President Correa
and his Proud and Sovereign Fatherland (PAIS) movement's initial
government plan for 2007-10. Many of those individuals later moved
into important positions in the GOE -- FM Falconi, MFA vice
minister for trade Julio Oleas, Planning Secretary Ramirez, and
former Constituent Assembly president Alberto Acosta (now estranged
from Correa). Several others remained at FLACSO.

4. (SBU) President Correa taught primarily at the San Francisco
University in Quito, but did have FLACSO connections. He became
acquainted with several FLACSO professors and researchers, such as
Acosta and Falconi, as they participated in leftist forums like
Ecuador Alternativo and Jubileo 2000. Correa was an invited
professor at FLACSO in 2001-05, a consultant in 2003 for the design
of FLACSO's doctorate in macroeconomics curriculum (supervised by
then economics program coordinator and now foreign minister
Falconi), and co-author of a book of economic proposals with other
FLACSO economic professors. Meanwhile, Correa broke with the more
conservative San Francisco University of Quito over what a
university official told us was a disagreement over Correa's
independence and class size after Correa completed a PhD in the
U.S. funded by the university.




5. (SBU) Opened in 1975, FLACSO Ecuador is a small center for
graduate studies that forms part of the regional FLACSO system. It
enjoys a reputation as one of Ecuador's best academic institutions,
in large part because its faculty members typically have doctorates
earned in foreign universities. FLACSO currently has some 700
students, 27 academic staff, and 50 researchers. It offers masters
and doctorate degrees in the fields of political science,
sociology, urban studies, communication, public policy,
international relations, anthropology and socio-environmental
studies. Like other Ecuadorian universities, it receives about 40

percent of its budget from the government.

6. (SBU) We discussed the FLASCO/government relationship with the
Faro Group, an NGO that conducted a study on ties between political
parties and think-tanks in Ecuador. A senior FARO staffer
attributed the Correa government's ties to FLACSO to the PAIS
movement's rudimentary organizational development, the lack of a
meritocratic system, and lack of adequate personnel within the
Ecuadorian civil service.

7. (SBU) The FARO staffer pointed out that most of the GOE's
attempts to connect public policies with academia are implemented
through FLACSO. One such attempt was a collaborative agreement in
the fields of education and research that Government Minister
Gustavo Jalkh and FLACSO head Adrian Bonilla signed in June. For
the many former academics in the Correa government, it probably
seems natural to look to a highly regarded university like FLACSO
for the best advice available locally. The FLACSO academics
involved are generally those of a leftist ideological orientation
who are likely to legitimize the political positions and policies
the government has already adopted.

8. (SBU) FLACSO professors' views are not all pro-government, and
many professors want the institution to remain pluralistic.
FLACSO's political science department generally tends to be more
critical of GOE policies. FLACSO political science program
coordinator Simon Pachano, for example, is a regular newspaper
columnist who often criticizes policies implemented by the GOE.
Another FLACSO political science professor expressed concern to us
that FLACSO would forever be associated with Correa's policies. On
the other hand, he recognized that people were interested in
studying at FLACSO as a way to get connected or obtain employment
in the public sector.




9. (SBU) The Correa administration's strong reliance on one small
university as its customary recruiting center for senior officials
reflects the scarcity of talented individuals with a compatible
ideological framework, the GOE's preference for those personally
known by the core government team, and FLACSO's strong reputation.
Drawing so heavily from a university means that GOE policies often
have an academic flavor and reflect the fact that many officials
need to gain experience in real world policy implementation.

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