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Cablegate: Celebration of Correa's Three Years in Power

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SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 2020/01/20
TAGS: PGOV ECON MARR SENV PHUM PREL EC
SUBJECT: Celebration of Correa's Three Years in Power

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


id: 244517
date: 1/20/2010 21:05
refid: 10QUITO25
origin: Embassy Quito
classification: CONFIDENTIAL
destination:
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C O N F I D E N T I A L QUITO 000025

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 2020/01/20
TAGS: PGOV ECON MARR SENV PHUM PREL EC
SUBJECT: Celebration of Correa's Three Years in Power

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

1. (C) Summary: President Correa's PAIS movement celebrated on
January 16 the third anniversary of the government of the
"Citizens' Revolution." The festive event gathered over 80,000
people who cheered President Correa (although some attendees were
reportedly coerced). While listing his government's specific
achievements, Correa sought to demonize the usual suspects, such as
the private media, the traditional political parties, and the
oligarchy. He also played the nationalism card. The event showed
the government's ability to mobilize large numbers of people, and
made the turnout at protests by teachers, students, labor, and
indigenous over the last few months look insignificant. End
Summary.

CELEBRATING BIG

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

2. (SBU) About 80,000 people attended the Proud and Sovereign
Fatherland (PAIS) celebrations on January 16 to commemorate the
Correa government's third anniversary. The event took place on the
streets of Ambato city, capital of Tungurahua province in central
Ecuador. The government set out 60 stands and nine stages where
government officials explained their work and musicians performed
to entertain the crowd during the daylong event. Flags, signs, and
light green clothing (the PAIS color) peppered the mass of
Ecuadorians congregated to support their government. Correa's
cabinet and many other government officials were in attendance.

3. (C) The opposition raised questions as to how the government
paid for the celebrations, including transporting PAIS supporters
from throughout the country to Ambato and feeding them. While the
organizers did not reveal the total cost of the event, they denied
that public funds were employed and emphasized that PAIS government
officials donated 10 percent of their salaries to the movement,
claiming that those funds paid for the event. There were reports
that some recipients of government assistance were forced to
attend, including an embassy official's employee, who had received
a subsidy to help purchase a home.

CORREA'S SPEECH: ATTACKING THE USUAL SUSPECTS

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

4. (SBU) Correa recalled that the citizens' revolution began after
international pressure resulted in his resignation as Finance
Minister in 2005, when with limited resources he and three or four
friends started travelling the country advocating for political
change. The motto of the speech was "Do not forget!," an attempt
to point out to Ecuadorians that they were better off now than
before his government. Correa described the past as a time when
the "partidocracia" (ruling political parties) and "the oligarchy
that speaks in Spanish but thinks in English" ruled. He made
several direct and indirect pejorative remarks about the Gutierrez
administration (2000-05) throughout his speech.

5. (SBU) Correa advocated for the restrictive Communications Law
now under consideration in the National Assembly, mocked the
private media campaign in favor of freedom of expression, and
attacked the media: "We don't fear you." He called the media the
"voice of a few with money." Correa stated proudly that his
government had made bankers responsible for the 1999 banking
crisis, introduced responsible management of natural resources,
eliminated exploitative labor practices, and increased salaries.
The President recalled an achievement from his days as finance
minister under the Palacios administration, when he annulled a
regulation by which public spending could not increase by more than
3 percent per year.

6. (SBU) In Correa's view, Ecuador's economic policy is now
centered on the welfare of the Ecuadorian people by promoting and
protecting national production and employment, in contrast with the
past when it sought the applause of Wall Street and cocktail
parties in Washington. "Today, this country's economic policy is
decided exclusively by Ecuadorians, the owners of this country,
without interferences from any class, be it foreign powers,
transnational companies, international bureaucracies and
foundations, NGOS, or all those people who want to do in our
countries what they could not do in their own," he concluded.

EXTOLLING THREE YEARS OF GOVERNMENT ACCOMPLISHMENTS

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

7. (SBU) The second half of Correa's speech lauded the government's
concrete achievements over the past three years in different areas.
He praised the 2008 constitution and defended it against opposition
charges that it would allow gay marriage or abortion. Turning to
public works, Correa said that his government increased investment
on roads from $300 million per year to $1.3 billion during the
government of the citizens' revolution. His description involved
more promises than a list of finished projects: "the best is yet to
come...the roads, the airports, the bridges...the hydroelectrical
plants, the refineries, will be there."

8. (SBU) In regard to education, Correa stated that his government
had eliminated the $25 fee paid in public schools, hired 12,000
teachers, improved teachers' salaries, built schools, provided
technology to schools, and distributed uniforms and food among the
poorest students. He lamented that teachers' union leaders opposed
the government's decision to evaluate the performance of teachers,
but stated that his government won that fight. In the area of
health, he supported the work of Health Minister Carolina Chang,
whom he thought was being politically persecuted through
embezzlement charges (for allegedly not following proper procedures
in procuring ambulances). He said that public hospitals were for
the first time equipped with sophisticated equipment such as CT
scanners, fees for medical consultations were eliminated, and new
hospitals were being built or remodeled.

9. (SBU) Correa praised the work of Vice President Lenin Moreno
with vulnerable groups, including the census of the disabled. In
the area of housing, he said that his government built 180,000
houses in three years and increased the housing subsidy from $500
to $5,000. In agriculture, he said that previous administrations
wanted Ecuador to enter an free trade agreement, which would have
ruined local production. Correa noted that the Banco de Fomento's
work had improved and that his administration introduced the urea
fertilizer subsidy for farmers. He highlighted that his government
invested in improving and increasing the equipment of the public
security forces and raised the salaries of police and military
personnel.

10. (SBU) Correa argued that the Yasuni-ITT initiative (under which
petroleum would not be extracted from the Yasuni National Park in
return for international support) belonged to his government and
denied that his government had lost the green elements in it, a
reference to the resignation of Foreign Minister Fander Falconi and
the estrangement of former Constituent Assembly President Alberto
Acosta. He vowed to support the Yasuni-ITT project without
compromising national sovereignty. In comparing his foreign policy
with that of former president Lucio Gutierrez, he said that his was
sovereign while Gutierrez "shamefully accepted foreign bases" on
Ecuadorian soil, a reference to the now-closed U.S. Forward
Operating Location in Manta. Finally, he argued that because the
opposition was unable to win elections, and because "21st century
invasions" (apparently meaning Honduras-like government overthrows
inspired by outsiders) would be overly shameless, the opposition
conspired to destabilize his government by creating the perception

of chaos and by generating scandals involving government officials.
CHRITTON

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

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