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Viewing cable 05BOGOTA9595, FORMER PRESIDENT GUTIERREZ TO RETURN TO ECUADOR,

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
05BOGOTA9595 2005-10-07 22:10 2010-12-10 21:09 SECRET Embassy Bogota
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 BOGOTA 009595

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/06/2015
TAGS: PREL PGOV PTER EC CO
SUBJECT: FORMER PRESIDENT GUTIERREZ TO RETURN TO ECUADOR,
PREPARED TO FACE JAIL, WANTS TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT

Classified By: Ambassador William B. Wood.
Reason: 1.4 (b,d)

-------
Summary
-------

1. (S) Former Ecuadorian president Lucio Gutierrez told
poloffs October 5 that he intends to return to Ecuador,
perhaps within weeks, and expects to be jailed on his
arrival. Gutierrez said he wants to run for president in
2006 and would like the U.S. to ensure that his life is
protected while in jail and that any charges against him be
tried fairly. His former foreign minister, Patricio
Zuquilanda, hopes to travel to the U.S. mid-October to brief
the USG on Gutierrez's plans. End summary.

--------------------------------------------- --------------
Gutierrez to Return to Ecuador Soon, Plans Presidential Bid
--------------------------------------------- --------------

2. (S) Former Ecuadorian president Lucio Gutierrez told
poloffs at a lunch October 5 that he would return to Ecuador
"as soon as possible" and expects to be arrested and
imprisoned. "I am prepared to spend two, three, four months
in jail to clear my name," he said. According to Gutierrez,
the GOE has "persecuted" him and his family. The GOE would
not be able to prove any charges against him, he predicted.
Gutierrez said he would go back "shortly" after a book launch
in Bogota October 12. Gutierrez, who was accompanied by his
former foreign minister Patricio Zuquilanda at the lunch
hosted by prominent Colombian political figure/businessman
David Turbay, said he intended to run for president in
October 2006. He claimed that public and private polls
suggest he has a solid chance of victory if allowed to run.

3. (S) Gutierrez said he expected the Ecuadorian media to
oppose his presidential bid, but with a less partisan tone
than that which he claimed they displayed during his tenure.
Both Gutierrez and Zuquilanda said the Ecuadorian media felt
somewhat chastened by their role in the events that led to
Gutierrez fleeing the country in April 2005. Gutierrez
acknowledged that he has few funds to mount a TV campaign and
suggested that he would instead run a "people's campaign"
that relied on personal meetings and rallies, although he
implied that unnamed companies in Ecuador would supply funds
as well.

-------------------------------------------
Free Speech and Political Asylum Conditions
-------------------------------------------

4. (S) Gutierrez acknowledged that he faced certain
restrictions on his conduct and speech while in Colombia as a
result of the GOC's October 4 decision to grant his request
for political asylum. Gutierrez said he is not supposed to
comment on internal Colombian or Ecuadorian politics, or do
or say anything that would negatively affect
Colombian-Ecuadorian relations. He argued, however, that his
planned October 12 book launch was an attempt to "set the
record straight" on factual matters relating to his fall from
power. He also said he would respond to any questions posed
by journalists; "I still have the right to free speech," he
said.

--------------------------------
Chavez is Threat to Entire World
--------------------------------

5. (S) Gutierrez and, especially, Zuquilanda, spent
considerable time denouncing Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez
as a threat to "the entire world, not just South America."
"We must unite as friends to combat Chavez," Zuquilanda said
on several occasions. Zuquilanda described a 2004 Cabinet
meeting at which the GOE Defense Minister informed the
Cabinet that the Venezuelan ambassador in Quito was using his
embassy to fund travel to and training in Venezuela for
Ecuadorian radicals, whose objective was "Marxist revolution"
in Ecuador. Zuquilanda said he called the ambassador in and
told him he had in his desk a diplomatic note declaring the
ambassador persona non grata unless he clarified the matter.
Zuquilanda said the ambassador attempted weak explanations,
then mumbled apologies, without denying the accusations. The
ambassador said he would ensure nothing like it ever happened
again.

--------------------------------------------- ----------
Gutierrez Claims Ecuador Heading in Anti-U.S. Direction
--------------------------------------------- ----------

6. (S) Gutierrez and Zuquilanda said that Ecuadorian
president Palacio intended to close down the U.S. FOL at
Manta. If this happened, Zuquilanda said, it would be a
"disaster" for the Manta economy. In Gutierrez's view,
Economy Minister Rafael Correa is strongly anti-American and
intends to run for president in 2006 an on a populist
platform that would "target American interests." Both said
that anti-American sentiment had increased in Ecuador in
recent years and argued that the U.S. should "massively"
increase public affairs efforts.

---------------------
FARC Bases in Ecuador
---------------------

7. (S) Gutierrez said "of course" the FARC has bases in
Ecuador, but he said that when he was president he tried to
attack them when discovered. Gutierrez said the 600km-plus
border with Colombia makes it tough to police; "how can you
tell who is and who is not FARC if they all wear civilian
clothes?" he noted.

-----------------------------------------
Former Foreign Minister Plans U.S. Travel
-----------------------------------------

8. (S) Zuquilanda said he wanted to travel to the U.S.
during the second or third week of October to brief USG
officials on Gutierrez's plans. When asked if that travel
proposal meant that he would not return to Ecuador until
Zuquilanda returned, Gutierrez said, "no, I want to go back
as soon as possible."

-------
Comment
-------

9. (S) Gutierrez seemed calm and did not appear concerned
about being jailed, a prospect he clearly believes is likely.
He did not ask for any U.S. assistance, except to ensure
that the GOE protected him while in jail and, if possible,
ensure that any charges against him were tried on the merits.
Zuquilanda was considerably more "political" in his
comments, evidently trying to persuade the U.S. that the
Gutierrez/Zuquilanda combination would be a strong U.S ally
in combating Chavez and the FARC.
WOOD