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Cablegate: New Foreign Minister Patino From Left Side of Correa's

VZCZCXYZ0000
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DE RUEHQT #0033/01 0212321
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TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0676
INFO RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RHMFISS/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
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E.O. 12958: DECL: 25X1- HUMAN
TAGS: PREL PGOV EFIN PTER EC VE
SUBJECT: New Foreign Minister Patino from Left Side of Correa's
Circle

REF: QUITO 5; 094 QUITO 841; 08 QUITO 1062; 07 QUITO 1607
...


id: 244780
date: 1/21/2010 23:21
refid: 10QUITO33
origin: Embassy Quito
classification: SECRET//NOFORN
destination: 06QUITO2937|07QUITO1607|07QUITO290|08QUITO1062|10QUITO5|94QUITO841
header:
VZCZCXYZ0000
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHQT #0033/01 0212321
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O R 212321Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY QUITO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0676
INFO RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RHMFISS/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO


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E.O. 12958: DECL: 25X1- HUMAN
TAGS: PREL PGOV EFIN PTER EC VE
SUBJECT: New Foreign Minister Patino from Left Side of Correa's
Circle

REF: QUITO 5; 094 QUITO 841; 08 QUITO 1062; 07 QUITO 1607
07 QUITO 290; 06 QUITO 2937

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

1. (C) Summary: On January 21, President Rafael Correa named
Ricardo Patino as Ecuador's foreign minister, applauding Patino's
loyalty to Correa's political project and great ideological
consistency. A political fixer in Correa's small inner circle,
Patino has had very limited contact with the Embassy. Patino
announced that his first priorities would be promoting the
UNASUR-U.S. relationship and an Amazon rainforest conservation
project called Yasuni-ITT. President Correa's disapproval of the
MFA's handling of the Yasuni-ITT project triggered former FM
Falconi's resignation (ref A). Patino's appointment suggests an
renewed ideological cast to Foreign Ministry actions, which could
easily slow or impede U.S. initiatives. End summary.

2. (S/NF) Patino has been the liaison between the Executive and
the National Assembly and involved in organizing the PAIS
movement's committees of the citizens' revolution. The founder of
Ecuador's branch of Jubilee 2000 (a debt forgiveness international
NGO), he influenced the GOE position on nonpayment and seeking a
deep discount on certain commercial debt. He left the Finance
Minister's office in 2007 after allegations that he manipulated the
debt market. GRPO sources have alleged that Patino received funds
for the Correa campaign from Venezuela and the FARC. More detailed
biographic information follows.

3. (S/NF) BIOGRAPHY

A trusted confidant of President Rafael Correa, Richard Patino has
served in three ministerial positions in the Correa government:
Political Coordination (since December 2007), the Coast (July to
December 2007), and Economy and Finance (January to July 2007).

As Minister for Political Coordination, Patino has managed the
Correa government's interactions with social groups, local
governments, and the National Assembly. His work as the link
between the Executive and the National Assembly has been criticized
by the opposition and government allies. Assembly member Dalo
Bucaram of the government-aligned Ecuadorian Roldosist Party (PRE)
told us that Patino stood in the way of an open dialogue between
the Executive and the Assembly's political parties. The PRE
requested that Patino no longer serve as the link to the Assembly,
but Correa ratified him in that position. President Correa's
estranged brother Fabricio has called Patino a terrorist and
criticized him for giving orders to the National Assembly. Patino
has participated in an array of negotiations with social movements
on different topics, including indigenous demands, flour subsidies,
transportation issues, pensions, and street vendors' rights. A
staffer with the National Electoral Council (CNE) told us that an
official working for Patino called all the shots at the CNE.

Patino was involved in establishing Committees of the Citizens'
Revolution of the Proud and Sovereign Fatherland (PAIS) Alliance
(ref b). He refused to appear before a National Assembly
commission on that subject, arguing that it was a party, not
government, initiative.

One of the goals of the Ministry of Coordination of Politics,
according to its website (www.mcpolitica.gov.ec), is to establish a
relationship with political parties and organizations in the region
with which the government has affinity. Patino's international
role included accompanying Correa to an ALBA summit; promoting Plan
Ecuador and the Yasuni-ITT initiative in Europe; travel to


Venezuela and Bolivia; and speaking for the government on the March
2008 Colombian incursion into northern Ecuador.

Patino was a member of a government-appointed debt audit
commission, the report of which was used to justify the GOE's
decision to default on part of its commercial debt in late 2008
(ref C). He was part of a government delegation that traveled to
other countries to argue that the Ecuadorian foreign debt was
illegitimate. His focus on the debt issue was apparent in 1999
when Patino helped establish the Ecuadorian branch of Jubilee 2000,
an international NGO calling for forgiveness of developing country
debt.

Patino's performance as Minister of Economics and Finance was
controversial, and he struck Embassy staff at the time as inept on
economics. He stated that Ecuador might not honor its
international debt obligations, and then made the payments a few
days later. In May 2007 a video became public where Patino made
comments that seemed to imply manipulation of the debt market, for
which he was censured by Congress (ref D). The Department of
Justice and the Securities Exchange Commission initiated an
investigation of him at that time (Post does not know the results).
Patino's move to head the newly-created Ministry of the Coast in
July 2007 isolated him from this scandal, but was considered a
demotion. In theory the Ministry of the Coast oversees various
sub-ministerial government offices in Guayaquil.

Former Ambassador Jewell made a courtesy call on Patino in February
2007 (ref E). During that meeting, Patino congratulated himself on
the ease with which he prepared his first budget, called some debt
illegitimate, and welcomed the opportunity to work with the USG on
microfinance and supporting small businesses.

In 2006, Patino was the national political director for the PAIS
Alliance, Correa's political movement, during the presidential
campaign. Two separate GRPO sources, one highly credible, have
alleged that Patino obtained and managed Venezuelan funds for
Correa's campaign. An uncorroborated report from a GRPO source
indicated that Patino also solicited funds from the FARC for
Correa's campaign. In addition, Patino enlisted support for Correa
from members of the former Ecuadorian terrorist group Alfaro Vive
Carajo (ref F).

When Correa was Minister of Economy and Finance in 2005, Patino was
his Chief of Staff and then his Vice Minister of Economy. Patino
was the coordinator of the Technical Advisory Committee of the
GOE's Inter-ministerial Employment Commission and an outside
consultant for the International Labor Organization. He taught at
the University of Guayaquil's Economics Department and the Superior
Polytechnical School of the Coast.

Patino has a master's degree in development economics from the
International University in Andalucia, Spain (2001). He obtained
an undergraduate economics degree at the Autonomous Metropolitan
University of Iztalapa, Mexico (1979). A press article reported
that Patino supported the Sandinista National Liberation Front in
Nicaragua after graduating in Mexico.

Patino was born in 1954 in Guayaquil (which is also Correa's home
town). He is married to Miriam Alcivar and they have one daughter.
According to Guayaquil sources, Patino is rumored to be homosexual.
CHRITTON

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

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