Cable 191415

En el cable Nº 191415, fechado el 10 de febrero del 2009 y clasificado como “secreto”, se hace un recuento del activismo político de José Ignacio Chauvín, de quien se subraya su reconocida cercanía con las FARC, y se recogen las disculpas públicas que el presidente Correa le ofreció señalando que toda persona es inocente hasta que se demuestre lo contrario.

id:

191415

date:

2/10/2009 23:25

refid:

09QUITO103

origin:

Embassy Quito

classification:

SECRET//NOFORN

destination:

09QUITO100

header:

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RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 3372
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ FEB LIMA 3015
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL 4082
RHEFHLC/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHINGTON DC
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RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
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RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RUEABND/DEA HQS WASHDC

 
----------------- header ends ----------------
 
S E C R E T QUITO 000103 
 
NOFORN 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: TWENTY YEARS 
TAGS: PREL, MARR, SMIG, SNAR, MOPS, EC, CO 
SUBJECT: BACKGROUND TO CORREA'S ATTACKS ON U.S. COOPERATION 
WITH GOE POLICE: GOE OFFICIALS LINKED TO FARC 
 
REF: QUITO 100 
 
Classified By: Ambassador Heather M. Hodges for Reasons 1.4 (b&d) 
 
1.  (S/NF) SUMMARY:  A PAIS provincial leader and former 
Under Secretary of Government under Minister Gustavo Larrea, 
Ignacio Chauvin, turned himself in February 4 to face charges 
of narco-trafficking.  Calling himself a revolutionary, 
Chauvin admitted to meeting deceased FARC member Raul Reyes. 
As a result, Larrea's political career is at least on hold, 
if not torpedoed.  Elements within the GOE appear to be 
trying to block effective prosecution, with key leaders of 
USG-vetted police units instrumental in the case transferred, 
the judge removed, and the case likely to be moved away from 
an effective prosecutor.  After initially reacting critically 
towards Chauvin, President Correa softened his comments on 
the case during his February 7 radio address.  END SUMMARY. 
 
FORMER GOE OFFICIAL IMPLICATED IN TRAFFICKING FARC DRUGS 
 
2.  (C) Ignacio Chauvin turned himself in to authorities on 
February 4 to face charges of narco-trafficking and misuse of 
government funds.  He had been the head of President Correa's 
Proud and Sovereign Fatherland (PAIS) political movement in 
Pichincha province and Under Secretary of Government and 
Police while Gustavo Larrea was the Minister of Government. 
On January 29, an arrest warrant was issued by a court in 
Guayas province alleging that Chauvin negotiated contracts 
for the GOE, including petroleum deals, with the brothers 
Jefferson, Edison and Miguel Ostaiza, currently under 
investigation for trafficking Revolutionary Armed Forces of 
Colombia (FARC) drugs to the U.S. and Mexico and for 
money-laundering.  The Special Police Investigative Unit 
(UIES) realized an operation, "Border Hurricane", on 
September 18, 2008, resulting in the seizure of 4.8 tons of 
cocaine allegedly owned by the Ostaiza brothers.  Chauvin was 
a fugitive for seven days before he turned himself in, 
evading initial arrest, possibly through senior police 
collusion. 
 
3.  (SBU) Chauvin admitted that he was a personal friend of 
the Ostaiza brothers, but claimed he was unaware of their 
illicit activity.  Chauvin also admitted that he was "a 
personal friend of Raul Reyes," the second-ranking FARC 
leader, who was killed in the March 2008 Colombian attack 
against a FARC camp in Ecuador.  Chauvin acknowledged that he 
met with Reyes seven times, but only to discuss the release 
of FARC-held hostages.  At the entrance to the police 
station, Chauvin announced to militant spectators that he was 
a "revolutionary and friend of various revolutionaries around 
the world."  In response, President Correa demanded that 
Chauvin explain where he met Reyes, that "if the meetings 
were held in Angostura..., if he (Chauvin) knew that Raul 
Reyes was in the country and did not denounce it, he would be 
a traitor to the homeland."  Correa also requested that 
Chauvin declare whether he met Reyes in an official or 
personal capacity. 
 
4.  (C) On February 3, the Guayas Antinarcotics Police (DNA) 
unit also detained Latin American Association of Human Rights 
(ALDHU) attorney Diego Benitez, Operational Support Group 
Police Lieutenant Pablo Cordova, and ex-agent of the Money 
Laundering Unit Carlos Navarro for alleged collaboration with 
Jefferson Ostaiza in narco-trafficking.  Specifically, the 
Guayas DNA unit is investigating ALDHU's Benitez for his work 
at Jooamy Ema, a Ostaiza brothers-owned company.  Guayas 
district attorney Jorge Solorzano asserted that he has 
sufficient evidence to prosecute both Chauvin and Benitez. 
He added that, although Benitez' connection to the Correa 
government was undeclared, he had photos of Benitez with 
former Minister Larrea, Assembly member Cesar Rodriguez, Vice 
President Lenin Moreno and  President Correa, and that with 
the photos, "they will not be able to say that they don't 
know him (Benitez), never saw him, or have never been with 
him." 
 
CORREA APOLOGIZES TO CHAUVIN 
 
5.  (SBU) Softening his tone in his February 7 radio address, 
 
President Correa read a letter sent by Chauvin's wife and 
apologized to Chauvin for his previous comments, saying that 
"I think that I was unfair.  I think that I reacted based on 
the prestige of the government, more so than on whether Jose 
Ignacio Chauvin was guilty or innocent."  Correa said that in 
Ecuador everyone was innocent until proven guilty and praised 
Chauvin's bravery in turning himself in.  Correa reiterated, 
however, that if Chauvin met with Raul Reyes as a 
representative of the Ecuadorian government in Angostura, he 
would have betrayed the citizen revolution.  Chauvin has 
since declared that he met Reyes only in Colombia. 
 
ALDHU UNDER INVESTIGATION 
 
6.  (SBU) The events have cast general suspicion on ALDHU, 
where former Minister Larrea and Chauvin had worked, and its 
use of government funds.  Acting Minister of Government 
Felipe Abril requested that ALDHU provide financial reports 
to clarify its spending practices.  He warned that "if they 
(ALDHU) used State money for ends other than what had been 
authorized, it could result in the termination of all written 
agreements and the dissolution of the entity."  Since 1980, 
ALDHU has received funding from and maintained a close 
relationship with the central government.  In 1996, ALDHU 
signed an agreement to provide human rights training for the 
police, but the police's Education Directorate reportedly 
shows no record of ever receiving training from ALDHU. 
 
7.  (C) Our Ecuadorian military contacts have criticized 
ALDHU for its work in the northern border region, 
particularly its issuance of carnets (identity documents) to 
over 5,000 inhabitants, who are mostly Colombian.  A report 
from the Army's Fourth Division explains that a large 
percentage of those living near the border are Colombian 
nationals, but have obtained Ecuadorian national 
identification documents using the ALDHU carnets, making it 
more difficult to control the border and the region.  The 
Foreign Ministry issued a bulletin regarding the issuance of 
credentials clarifying that only the State can recognize 
foreign citizens as refugees, and that "there is no 
authorization of any kind that ALDHU or any other NGO could 
substitute for the authority of the Ecuadorian government, 
under any circumstance." 
 
REQUEST FOR PAIS TO OPEN ITS BOOKS 
 
8.  (SBU) The Christian Democratic Union (UDC) party 
announced that it is preparing a formal request for PAIS to 
open its books on the 2006 electoral campaign, alleging that 
Chauvin's role as the PAIS leader in Pichincha may have 
involved the Ostaiza brothers and narco-trafficking.  UDC 
President Diego Ordonez called for the National Electoral 
Council to investigate PAIS's sources of funding to determine 
if there were FARC donations. 
 
LARREA IS OUT 
 
9.  (C) Amid the controversy regarding Chauvin and ALDHU, 
Gustavo Larrea renounced his candidacy for the National 
Assembly on February 2, following a reported request by 
President Correa to leave the race.  Larrea had resigned as 
Coordinating Minister of Internal and External Security on 
January 10 to run for the Assembly and was considered by some 
within PAIS as one of the front runners to become the 
Assembly president.  In his announcement that he was 
withdrawing his candidacy, Larrea complained that his 
friendship with Chauvin had been used to damage the image of 
the government.  However, Solorzano stated on February 7 that 
it was Larrea who "committed his own political suicide by 
having a close collaborator and intimate friend who has ties 
to the guerrilla (FARC) and saying that he knew nothing about 
it." 
 
10.  (C) Larrea's falling out with PAIS appears more 
complicated than when Correa requested Larrea leave his 
position as Minister of Government in November 2007, only to 
reappoint him on January 3, 2008 as the Coordinating Minister 
of Internal and External Security.  Accusations by Colombia 
based on documents recovered from FARC computers that Larrea 
 
had ties to the FARC, Larrea's later admission of meetings 
with the FARC to discuss the release of hostages, and now the 
ties to Chauvin have tarnished Larrea's political viability, 
at least for the foreseeable future. 
 
IMPACT ON USG VETTED UNITS 
 
11.  (C) On February 4, Ecuadorian Police Commander General 
Jaime Hurtado ordered the transfer of three heads and 20 
members of police units critical to the success of Ecuador's 
fight against narco-terrorism.  He justified the move as 
"normal transfer of personnel to allow for the ascension of 
new generals and colonels," but it appeared to be retribution 
against those who pursued a case that reflected poorly on the 
GOE.  Hurtado sent the Deputy Director of Antinarcotics, 
Colonel Juan Carlos Barragan, to lead the provincial police 
district in El Oro, and the Chief of the Special Police 
Investigative Unit (UIES), Colonel Manolo Silva, to lead the 
judicial police in Tungurahua, far from their areas of 
specialty.  Silva and Barragan have led a long-running 
investigation by the UIES of narco-trafficking rings in 
Ecuador, including potential ties to the GOE.  The unit was 
vetted by and has maintained excellent operational 
cooperation with the Embassy in counter-insurgency and 
counter-drug operations.  The UIES was instrumental in the 
seizures of Simon Trinidad, FARC secretariat member, and 
Nelson Yaguara, alias Commander Uriel, responsible for the 
attack on Colombian military base Teteye.  The UIES 
reportedly has been responsible for 70% of the drug seizures 
in Ecuador since 1989. 
 
12.  (C) Hurtado also reassigned General Juan Francisco Sosa, 
Chief of the Judicial Police (similar to the FBI), to a 
lower-level posting as district police chief in Quito, 
blaming him for not capturing Chauvin immediately.  Sosa has 
worked closely with various offices in the Embassy - DEA, 
DHS/ICE and NAS - to strengthen crime scene evidence 
gathering and investigations.  General Rafael Yepez has been 
named to replace Sosa, but it is unclear how well he will 
cooperate with the Embassy and USG initiatives. 
 
13.  (C) Upon receiving news of the latest reassignments, the 
Ambassador canceled her meeting with Coordinating Minister of 
Internal and External Security Miguel Carvajal on February 5, 
originally scheduled as part of Andean Affairs Director Kevin 
Whitaker's visit, until events were clarified internally. 
Carvajal called the Ambassador on February 6 to ask about the 
suspended assistance to the UIES.  The Ambassador explained 
that the replacement of the vetted leaders of the unit had 
resulted in suspension of support.  Carvajal, who knew the 
agreement was only verbal, suggested to the Ambassador that 
these agreements should be formalized in writing, but did not 
indicate any other immediate concerns.  They agreed to meet 
the week of February 9 to discuss. 
 
14.  (S/NF) COMMENT:  Someone (perhaps Carvajal) is using the 
Astorga and the DHS/ICE vetted unit issue (reftel) to 
aggravate Correa, or to distract from the Chauvin/PAIS case. 
The DHS/ICE vetted unit is now being confused with issues 
surrounding the UIES vetted unit, who have similarly 
suspended assistance and requested return of equipment.  It 
is unclear if Carvajal or Correa have a true understanding of 
which unit is which, or that banning "vetted" units in 
Ecuador could interrupt Correa's favorite program, a DEA-led 
judicial communications intercept program.  There is strong 
suspicion in the U.S. Mission that Carvajal and others in the 
GOE see this as a wedge issue to drive out USG influence from 
the government.  END COMMENT. 
 
WHERE IS THE CHAUVIN CASE? 
 
15.  (SBU) In addition to the police reassignments, the judge 
for Chauvin and the Border Hurricane case, Zoila Alvarado, 
was accused by the attorney of one of the defendants of 
delaying the case.  Another judge in the Guayas judicial 
district, Oswaldo Sierra, reviewed the complaint and 
announced on February 9 that Judge Alvarado would no longer 
hear the case.  Meanwhile, Chauvin's attorney filed a request 
to change the jurisdiction of the case to Esmeraldas, with 
 
the justification that the drugs were seized in Esmeraldas, 
not Guayas.  If Oswaldo determines that the case is to be 
moved, then prosecutor Solorzano will also be taken off the 
case, further reducing prospects for the involvement of any 
competent and clean judicial officials. 
 
COMMENT 
 
16.  (S/NF) The events surrounding the Ostaiza brothers and 
Operation Hurricane have hit a sensitive nerve for the GOE, 
suggesting once again that the Correa administration has ties 
to the FARC.  The GOE has been insistent that Colombia 
recognize that the GOE has no ties to the FARC -- harder to 
do when an Under Secretary admits to FARC meetings and 
declares himself as a revolutionary.  If the Chauvin and 
Border Hurricane investigations are allowed to proceed, it is 
likely additional information will continue to surface and 
damage the image of the Correa administration.  However, the 
suspicious timing of transferring key leaders of USG-vetted 
police units, instrumental in counter-narcotics efforts, not 
only damages our bilateral cooperation, it also lessens the 
likelihood that narco-traffickers will be brought to justice 
and convicted.  Leftist elements within the GOE may continue 
to shift the focus or blame on the USG's influence in the 
security sector, further complicating USG efforts here, or 
driving out cooperation altogether. 
HODGES 
 
=======================CABLE ENDS============================