|07LAPAZ2963||2007-11-07 20:27:00||CONFIDENTIAL||Embassy La Paz|
VZCZCXRO0709 PP RUEHLMC DE RUEHLP #2963 3112027 ZNY CCCCC ZZH P 072027Z NOV 07 FM AMEMBASSY LA PAZ TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5573 INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 7240 RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 4615 RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 8517 RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES 5741 RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 2967 RUEHGE/AMEMBASSY GEORGETOWN 0429 RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA 3164 RUEHMD/AMEMBASSY MADRID 3650 RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO 4963 RUEHPO/AMEMBASSY PARAMARIBO 0127 RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 5602 RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 0206 RUEHUB/USINT HAVANA 0650 RHMFISS/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL RUMIAAA/USCINCSO MIAMI FL RUEHLMC/MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORP RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC
C O N F I D E N T I A L LA PAZ 002963
1. (C) The Ambassador phoned Foreign Minister David
Choquehuanca on November 7 to discuss recent public
accusations that the Embassy was conspiring with Bolivian
oligarchs and Colombian paramilitary against Evo Morales
based on a photograph released on November 5. Although FM
Choquehuanca publicly stated on November 6 that he would call
in the Ambassador, the Embassy had not been contacted by the
Foreign Ministry at any point since Evo accused the
Ambassador on October 31 of meeting with a Colombian
paramilitary to overthrow his government (reftel). (Note:
Press reports now refer to the individual as a Colombian
"mugger." End Note.)
2. (C) The Ambassador told Choquehuanca that he was calling
him to talk before the Foreign Minister traveled again.
Ambassador Goldberg said that Government Minister Alredo
Rada's public attacks using a snapshot photo of the
Ambassador were "inappropriate and out of context." The
Ambassador informed the Foreign Minister that the Department
is preparing to call in Ambassador Guzman to ask him to
explain the situation. He said that President Morales'
remarks are an "insult to the United States as our country
has put Colombia's paramilitary groups on the terrorism
list." The Ambassador told the Foreign Minister that he
wanted to register his "deep disappointment" that an incident
like this could occur a week after the Foreign Minister and
he had agreed to try to work better together and keep issues
out of the press.
3. (C) The Ambassador went on to explain that the
photograph was taken at ExpoCruz, Bolivia's largest trade
fair, where he was promoting commercial relations and
friendship between Bolivia and the United States. The
Ambassador himself had invited Vice President Garcia Linera
and other senior Bolivian officials to that event, none of
whom came. The snapshot in question is a public photo taken
at a public event. The Ambassador said that he often agrees
to have his picture taken with unknown people at public
4. (C) The Foreign Minister responded that he "understood"
and that he "understands our concerns." He told the
Ambassador that he himself often thinks about who he might be
taking pictures with when he is approached by the public.
Choquehuanca added that he was still trying to improve ties
with the United States and was trying schedule a lunch or
dinner for the Ambassador with President Morales.
5. (C) Choquehuanca is competing with Presidential Palace
insiders for influence and in this incident clearly lost
control of the situation. Evo's outrageous charges and
Government Minister Rada's public press spectacle have left
Choquehuanca scrambling to try to repair the situation. We
will see if Choquehuanca, who has Evo's ear on many issues,
will prevail in these efforts. End Comment.