Cable 226031

Se relatan pormenortes de la entrega de Estados Unidos de las instalaciones en la Base Aérea de Manta y se menciona los planes de la Asamblea Nacional de hacer investigaciones sobre la actuación norteamericana en estas instalaciones.

id:

226031

date:

9/19/2009 0:08

refid:

09QUITO829

origin:

Embassy Quito

classification:

CONFIDENTIAL

destination:

09QUITO391|09QUITO616

header:

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DE RUEHQT #0829/01 2620008
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FM AMEMBASSY QUITO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0070
INFO RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RHMFISS/COGARD INTELCOORDCEN WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/DIRJIATF SOUTH J2
RHMFISS/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RHMFISS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/SECNAV WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/USSOUTHAF DAVIS MONTHAN AFB AZ
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 0010
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 0014
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ SEP LIMA 0019
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC

 
----------------- header ends ----------------
 
C O N F I D E N T I A L QUITO 000829 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 2029/09/18 
TAGS: PREL, MARR, MOPS, EC 
SUBJECT: FOL Turnover Complete, but National Assembly Continues to 
Irritate 
 
REF: QUITO 616; QUITO 391 
 
CLASSIFIED BY: Heather M. Hodges, Ambassador, State Department; 
REASON: 1.4(A), (D) 
 
1.  (SBU) Summary: The U.S. Air Force turned the Forward Operating 
Location (FOL) facilities over to the Ecuadorian Air Force on 
September 18, concluding ten years constructing and utilizing the 
FOL for counternarcotics surveillance flights.  GOE senior 
officials celebrated what FM Falconi called a "triumph for national 
sovereignty and peace."  Meanwhile, the Prosecutor General's Office 
summoned former president Gutierrez and others for questioning for 
allegedly allowing the U.S. military to sink Ecuadorian vessels and 
commit other crimes.  The National Assembly plans further 
investigation.  End Summary. 
 
 
 
FAREWELL TO THE FOL 
 
 
 
2.  (C) During a brief ceremony at Ecuador's Eloy Alfaro Air Base 
in Manta, FM Fander Falconi, Defense Minister Javier Ponce, and 
Coordinating Minister for Internal and External Security Miguel 
Carvajal marked what they considered the "recapture" of Ecuadorian 
sovereignty.  GOE officials apparently chose in their remarks not 
to charge the FOL at the event with boat sinkings and human rights 
violations.  According to a MFA press release, FM Falconi asked his 
listeners not to forget that "today is the moment of the Grand 
Fatherland, an epoch of profound and complex transformation when a 
Latin America-oriented vision crosses the continent and rejects all 
forms of tutelage that seeks to promote relations based on 
subordination."  He alleged that the "base" (sic) obeyed a strategy 
of military control, meaning by the U.S.  Falconi faulted former 
GOE officials for their failure to allow debate by the Ecuadorian 
people before the agreement was concluded in 1999, and also for not 
securing approval by the plenary of the then Congress (only the 
International Relations Commission considered the agreement at that 
time). 
 
 
 
3.  (C) Over the past week the planned signing over of the FOL 
morphed from a closed door meeting of mid-level officials to a 
ceremony complete with GOE ministerial participation.  U.S. 
officials decided not to make themselves part of a media circus and 
did not attend the GOE event.  In fact, we were not invited. 
Instead Military Group commander COL Robert Gaddis signed the 
necessary turnover documents and had them delivered and then signed 
by the Ecuadorian Air Force Area Defense Commander, Gen. Alonso 
Espinosa, prior to the GOE's ceremony, thereby meeting our legal 
requirement.  The U.S. Air Force's 478th Expeditionary Operations 
Squadron (EOS) held an inactivation ceremony at a nearby hotel for 
the FOL the morning of September 18 that included members of the 
12th Air Force and Embassy Quito, but not the GOE or Ecuadorian 
military. 
 
 
 
4.  (SBU) Mid-day newscasts covered the GOE event, with several 
suggesting that the Ecuadorian Government "forgot to invite the 
Americans" to the ceremony, and one noting FOL contributions to the 
community.  Each featured a different minister with his take on 
events, with Defense Minister Ponce referring to an investigation 
into an alleged "secret accord" (apparently a reference to the 
Operational Procedures for Boarding and Inspecting Vessels), FM 
Falconi focusing on Ecuador's relations with Colombia, and Carvajal 
tepidly praising the positive nature of the transition and turnover 
process. 
 
 
 
PROSECUTOR GENERAL INITIATED INVESTIGATION 
 
 
 
5.  (SBU) According to the press, the now defunct Legislative 
Commission's International Relations Commission is planning to 
release its report (reftel) at a concert in Manta the evening of 
September 18 celebrating the FOL turnover.  The report alleges 
thousands of deaths, human rights violations, and sinkings of 
fishing boats caused by the FOL. 
 
 
 
6.  (C) The Prosecutor General's Office has already moved forward 
with investigation of the report's unsubstantiated allegations.  In 
August it summoned former president Lucio Gutierrez (runner-up in 
the April 26 elections this year), as well as two foreign ministers 
that served under Gutierrez, to appear.  They are being 
investigated for covering up acts of piracy allegedly committed 
against Ecuadorians and Ecuadorian-flagged vessels which the 
summons claims were intercepted, destroyed, or sunk in Ecuadorian 
territorial waters or in international waters by vessels of the 
North American (sic) navy. 
 
 
 
7.  (C) The new National Assembly International Relations 
Commission president, Fernando Bustamante, told the Ambassador on 
September 18 that his Committee needed to continue looking 
"politically" into events surrounding the FOL, including Ecuadorian 
politicians who approved the agreement, and the alleged human 
rights violations.  When the Ambassador suggested such actions 
would be only a witchhunt, Bustamante tried (unconvincingly) to 
convince her that the process would be fair. 
 
 
 
COMMENT 
 
 
 
8.  (C) The USG can be very proud of what it has accomplished at 
the FOL over the last ten years, as well as ensuring the transition 
process over the past six months did not become a crippling bone of 
contention.  We behaved graciously in leaving many items at the FOL 
(valued at $1.4 million) behind for the Ecuadorian Air Force or 
local charities, when the only requirement in the agreement was the 
turnover of the installations.  We hope this will pay dividends as 
we seek to maintain a constructive relationship with the Correa 
government and the Ecuadorian military, particularly in the 
anti-narcotics fight.  We do have some concern about the National 
Assembly's plans for continued investigation of the ridiculous 
allegations against the USG.  The Prosecutor General's 
investigation is of less concern since there will be a greater need 
in a legal proceeding for firm evidence. 
HODGES 
 
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