wikileaks ico  Home papers ico  Cables mirror and Afghan War Diary privacy policy  Privacy
05QUITO978 2005-04-29 19:50:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Quito
Cable title:  


pdf how-to read a cable
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 QUITO 000978 



E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/28/2015


Classified By: Ambassador Kristie A. Kenney, Reason 1.4 (b)

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Ecuador's new foreign minister, Antonio
Parra, will travel to Washington to participate in the
election of the next OAS Secretary General (slated for May
2). Parra, currently in Santiago for the Community of
Democracies gathering, arrives in Washington May 1,
accompanied by acting MFA Multilateral Affairs chief Julio
Prado. The FM seeks a call on the Deputy Secretary, whom we
understand will be unavailable, and will visit AID Assistant
Administrator Adolfo Franco. Ecuador's Washington embassy
likely will request further bilats, perhaps with the
Undersecretary for Political Affairs or additional non-State
principals. Since Parra seems the most approachable,
U.S.-friendly figure in the Alfredo Palacio administration,
we recommend granting reasonable meeting requests. Parra has
spent little time in office and is unlikely to be fully
schooled on key bilateral issues. END SUMMARY.

2. (C) Parra, a Guayaquil native, assumed command of the
Foreign Ministry April 21. He, Administration Secretary
General Luis Herreria, and Government Minister Mauricio
Gandara composed the first tranche of ministers Palacio
named. In an April 26 courtesy call with the Ambassador
(Reftel), Parra emphasized his personal affinity for the U.S.
and Ecuador's desires for close bilateral relations. As the
United States was Ecuador's largest foreign investor, donor,
and export market, there was no alternative to engagement, he
reasoned. Unlike fellow Cabinet member Rafael Correa, the
left-leaning economy minister, Parra believed Ecuador should
continue with free trade talks. He also voiced support for a
money laundering crackdown and assistance for northern border
residents to wean them from narco-economy dependency.

3. (C) "Open-minded, easy-going and approachable" describes
our first impressions of Parra, an opinion shared by Embassy
contacts. Unfortunately, "uninformed, untested, and poorly
staffed" fit as well. Nonetheless, we rate him the likely
voice of reason in the Cabinet. As such, a Washington "charm
offensive" seems in order, a lesser version of that extended
in February 2003 to a visiting Gutierrez (which helped turn
the then-populist U.S.-friendly). While we don't necessarily
want to embrace a government whose manner of arrival was
dubious, we do want to help move its few U.S.-friendly
members in the correct direction. Points to cover in
high-level meetings with FM Parra might include:

-- The United State remains a steadfast ally of Ecuador, our
nations bound by social, economic, and people-to-people ties;

-- We never broke relations with Ecuador, despite the
unexpected change in administrations; don't get caught up in
"recognition" nonsense;

-- Requesting and welcoming OAS assistance was the right
move; the Mission's agenda was top-notch, its interlocutors
spanned the spectrum, and the meetings were productive. We
look forward to seeing the analysis and after-action report;

-- A positive development from the recent crisis is the
increased attention from your neighbors and friends; suggest
you re-inforce ties with responsible governments in Colombia,
Chile, Brazil, and Spain;

-- You have the USG's support for measures designed to
strengthen Ecuadorian democracy, shore up stability, and
secure Ecuador from harmful spillover from the Colombian

5. (C) As the "adult" in the Palacio Administration, Parra
has a special responsibility to ensure that meeting the
Ecuadorian public's short-term demands leaves intact
heretofore good relations with the United States. We might
make the following points:

-- We understand Palacio must distance himself from Gutierrez
if he is to survive politically; be careful with populist
turns, however;

-- A couple of Cabinet choices concern us, although we're
determined to work with, not against them;

-- Government Minister Gandara is free to voice his anti-U.S.
opinions, but we worry his attitude might threaten excellent
bilateral law enforcement cooperation;

-- Similarly, Finance Minister Correa's anti-free trade,
anti-IMF stance has left investors, IFIs skittish;

-- As Ecuador's pre-eminent foreign relations expert, you are
well-placed to rein both in.

6. (C) Correa's comments have spiked fears that Ecuador will
pull out of the Andean Free Trade Agreement negotiations or,
by demanding the accord be approved in a referendum, will
strangle it slowly. Signing the FTA remains a USG regional
priority, and we would rather Ecuador stay engaged.

-- We are hearing mixed signals on the FTA's future in

-- Our ambassador in Quito reports that you see "no other
choice" but to sign; how are you pushing to save the

-- Resolving commercial disputes (Oxy, primarily) and
reforming labor code necessary before any accord gets inked;

7. (C) And why not push our pol-mil and law enforcement
agenda? Gutierrez deserved credit for okaying deployment of
Ecuadorian engineers to Haiti and for buttressing the
Colombian border, but failed us on Article 98.

-- Kudos to Ecuador for contributing engineers to the UN-led
Haiti peacekeeping mission; hope to see further Ecuadorian
engagement in the hemisphere;

-- Your troops there need protection from politically
motivated persecution, as do ours; our Article 98 efforts
don't seek immunity or impunity, but only protections from a
faulty International Criminal Court;

-- Colombian narcoterrorism poses great threats to Ecuador, a
point shared by your armed forces and police. There is no
"neutrality" between an elected government (Uribe's) and
armed gangs;

-- Inflammatory media play to the contrary, Ecuador and the
United States have done great work together from your base in
Manta to prevent further Colombian narcotrafficking inroads
in Ecuador;

-- Money laundering can undermine an economy as surely as
drug trafficking itself. We commend draft legislation
pending in Congress that gives Ecuador the tools to combat