WikiLeaks cables from 2005 and 2006 from the U.S. embassy in the Ecuadoran capital city of Quito, reveal how the United States collaborated closely with conservative former President Lucio Gutierrez (2003-2005) to undermine progressive President Rafael Correa (2006-present), reported Green Left Weekly (GLW) this Monday.
The cables from 2005 reveal that then U.S. ambassador to Ecuador Kristie Kenney deplored the deposition of Gutierrez, highlighting that he was a great ally to American interests.
Gutierrez was removed from office by the Congress in April 2005, after massive protests against his neoliberal policies. He especially advocated for the signature of the Free Tade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA) and collaborated closely with the U.S. war on drugs program.
When Gutierrez was temporarily replaced by President Alfredo Palacio, Kenney said it will be “difficult to imagine an Ecuadoran government in which we enjoyed greater access”, as the U.S. embassy had “cultivated a wide range of contacts and had excellent access to high government officials, the military high command, and civil society leaders and opinion makers [under Gutierrez' mandate]”, she said in two different cables quoted by GLW.
"Kenney even deplored that the embassy’s “best efforts” had not prevented Gutierrez’s forced resignation, GLW added.
Regarding the war on drugs' program, the cables evidence how the embassy planned to use the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to convince the Ecuadoran government to embrace the Plan Colombia.
Funding infrastructure programs in the northern border region of Ecuador, among others, would help the embassy through the USAID “to combat misinformation that USG assistance in the Andes is strictly military”, says a 2005 cable.
This argument was served to Foreign Minister Fernando Carrion in February 2006, when he complained against the disastrous consequences of Plan Colombia, another cable revealed.
The Plan Colombia consisted in U.S. financial assistance for Colombia, in order to militarize the conflict against the guerilla groups and the drug cartels. It provoked the displacement of thousands of refugees to Ecuador, while the fumigations of coca crops intoxicated many people at the Ecuadoran border.
The embassy also lobbied to avoid the defeat of Oxy, a U.S. Petroleum company, against whom the Ecuadoran government had launched a lawsuit over alleged contract violations.
When Rafael Correa entered the government of Palacio, the embassy became increasingly worried about this “brash young Economy Minister” known for being a ““determined enemy of the FTA."
Because Correa increased public spending in constrast with austerity policies implemented by Gutierrez, the embassy urged the White House to “use its influence” with international financial institutions to ensure that loans to Ecuador were withheld until “Correa and the [government of Ecuador] commit themselves to minimally responsible policies."
Shortly after, the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank's funds were blocked until the International Monetary Fund would assess the Andean economy.
Since Correa took office in 2007, the U.S. military base of Manta, as well as the USAID agency have been expelled from the country.