INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cablegate: First Stage of National Dialogue Process Comes To

Published: Fri 15 Jul 2005 06:13 PM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 QUITO 001667
SIPDIS
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL EC
SUBJECT: FIRST STAGE OF NATIONAL DIALOGUE PROCESS COMES TO
AN END
1. SUMMARY: On July 11, PolIntern met with Alexandra Perez,
the executive director of the National State Modernization
Council (CONAM) to discuss the ongoing national dialogue
process and December 11 referendum. Perez is supporting Vice
President Alejandro Serrano in directing this project; she
updated PolOffs on the progress of collecting citizen input
regarding political reform. During the meeting Perez also
discussed several other items on the CONAM agenda, including
modernization of the civil registry and a decentralization
initiative. END SUMMARY.
JULY 15 MARKS END OF NATIONAL DIALOGUE PROCESS
2. July 15 is the last day for Ecuadorian citizens to submit
their input on the issues they would like to see addressed by
the December 11 referendum. Via regular mail and the
internet, CONAM has received over 3500 proposals, including
from Ecuadorian citizens living overseas. Perez said that
most of the proposals they receive come from multiple people;
she estimated that about 25-30,000 people had participated in
the national dialogue process so far.
FTA NOT TO BE INCLUDED ON REFEENDUM
3. Perez said that over 60% of the proposals received are
related to political reform, especially the issues of
congressional districting, reform of the judicial system, and
decentralization, among others. As of the afternoon of July
14, nearly 600 of the total proposals received referred to
congressional reform. Many suggestions also concern
reforming the health and education systems. With regard to
USG interests, there have been some proposals related to the
Free Trade Agreement, though Perez assured PolOffs that the
FTA will not be included on the referendum. Perez believes
that much of the popular opposition to the FTA arises from a
lack of information, and said that CONAM has a "conflict
resolution team" of technocrats working on this issue.
USAID's Trade Capacity Building team is aware of CONAM's team
and its activities. Very few submissions deal with the U.S.
Cooperative Security Location at Manta, another polemic issue
which definitely will not make the cut, she said.
MUCH WORK STILL TO BE DONE BEFORE DECEMBER 11
4. When the period of collecting citizen input comes to an
end, CONAM will initiate a three-week synthesis phase, during
which time the citizenry can reflect and debate over the
proposals. Perez said the OAS, the Spanish government, a
Swiss NGO, and the government of Korea have already agreed to
help with this process in the areas of financial and
technological assistance. CONAM is planning to hire thematic
and legal experts for the analytical process, and is seeking
further financial support for this.
5. This third stage of the national dialogue process will
culminate in the formulation of questions to be included on
the referendum. Once their urgency is ratified by Congress
in November, the questions will be put in official referendum
format for December 11.
OPPOSITION TO RECONCILIATION PROCESS ALREADY MOBILIZED
6. Perez asserted that the national reconciliation process
will help to legitimize the new administration,s reform
agenda; however, various detractors of the project have begun
voicing dissatisfaction. The "forajidos" (protesters who
brought down the Gutierrez government) have accused the
government of stalling, and numerous groups are frustrated
that the Free Trade Agreement will not be included in the
questions. Some of our congressional contacts have asserted
that reforms should be left to them and that the referendum
will achieve nothing substantive. Political parties are also
accusing the administration of leaving them out of the
process, though Perez explained that CONAM is working hard to
gather input from various groups, including political parties.
CONAM ALSO LOOKING AT OTHER MODERNIZATION PROJECTS
7. Perez also described several other key CONAM projects to
PolOffs. First on her list is modernization of the civil
registry system. This would involve the acquisition of
state-of-the-art technology in order to create a central
database for drivers' licenses, fingerprints, passports, and
other government information. Perez says she has been in
contact with USAID regarding possible support for this
project. USAID was non-committal, because of higher priority
political, judicial, and electoral reform issues and limited
resources for what was described as a fairly ambitious and
expensive system, and if a USG priority might fit better
under DHS. CONAM also plans a full-scale decentralization
project that would implement 90% of existing agreements with
provincial and local governments (currently only 5% have been
implemented, she said). Perez was formerly an active member
of the donor-led Governance Round Table. USAID expects the
round table would serve as appropriate venue for coordination
of CONAM's project, which we understand has been approved by
IDB for $4.5 million and requires $1.5 million in GOE
counterpart.
COMMENT
8. Perez seems a competent director of the national
reconciliation process. However, she may be underestimating
the difficulty of the task ahead. The proposed referendum
has already raised expectations it will be difficult if not
impossible to meet. With detractors of the project already
making their voices heard and rumors of a future resurgence
of the "forajidos" and opposition by Ecuadorian Congress, the
capabilities of CONAM's director may not be enough to stem
the tide of discontent. Perez,s ambitious agenda may be due
in part to her own political ambitions. END COMMENT.
BIO NOTE
9. Perez is the daughter of Alvaro Perez Intriago, Ecuador's
Ambassador-nominee to the United States. She studied in
Washington, D.C., and has worked for GTZ (a German
international development NGO) and other international
organizations. When asked about her career plans after the
Palacio government, she was evasive.
HERBERT
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