BOLIVIA: EAC WORKING GROUP MEETING 9/19

Código Fecha Clasificación Origen
08LAPAZ2052 22 September 2008 Secreto / No para extranjeros Embassy La Paz

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VZCZCXYZ0000
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHLP #2052/01 2662118
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 222118Z SEP 08
FM AMEMBASSY LA PAZ
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8604
INFO RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEABND/DEA HQS WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

S E C R E T LA PAZ 002052

NOFORN
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/16/2018
TAGS: AMER, ASEC, AMGT, PTER, BL
SUBJECT: BOLIVIA: EAC WORKING GROUP MEETING 9/19

REF: LA PAZ 2035

Classified By: RSO Patrick J. Moore, reasons 1.4c,d

1. (S/NF) The Emergency Action Committee Working Group
(EACWG) met 9/19 with members of SSAT team to discuss
contingency planning for low probability but high impact
event: President Evo Morales removed from power either by
death or coup. EACWG noted that while this remains a low
probability event, there has been increased chatter about the
possibility in recent weeks. A/DCM explained that Post needs
to be fully prepared for immediate action, and requested SSAT
assistance in updating hunker-down and evacuation plans
compiled by Post with RST help in December 2007.

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Likely Scenarios and their Implications
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2. (S/NF) Should something befall President Morales, his
supporters would doubtless blame the USG. If Morales died
and Vice President Garcia Linera took over-as is his
constitutional responsibility-Post would anticipate a
somewhat-permissive environment, albeit with some anti-USG
backlash. If a military coup took place, the coup-leaders
would likely cooperate with Post’s attempts to evacuate, but
resistance in El Alto would be significant, resulting in a
non-permissive environment. (Note: EACWG agreed that the
military leadership does not seem to want the responsibility
of toppling a popular president. The military is also
currently deployed around the country, and many conscripts in
the divisions still near the capital are indigenous youth
naturally loyal to Morales. End note.)

3. (S/NF) All present agreed that there would be very little
time—a thirty-minute window, perhaps—to react to news of
Evo’s death or ouster before the anti-USG reaction began.
SSAT team emphasized that a full NEO takes a minimum of two
weeks to begin and six weeks to remove 20,000 people from the
country (assuming a permissive environment) so it is
essential that mission personnel and non-official Amcits be
prepared to hunker down for a considerable period.

4. (S/NF) EACWG discussed the fact that the traditional
pattern in Bolivia was for the various opposing sides to take
matters "to the brink" and then back down. The pattern may
have changed with President Evo Morales. Whether Morales
"wins" or "loses", the outcome is not positive for Post. If
Morales wins, his constitution will allow him a potential two
more terms of five years each during which he will be free to
further scapegoat the USG. If Morales loses, he has declared
multiple times that he will only leave the Palace dead,
placing Post in one of the above contingency situations.
Some sources suggest that Morales is planning for increased
violence in the upcoming weeks.

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Logistics and Planning
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5. (S/NF) SSAT announced that it would use the weekend of
9/20 and 9/21 to begin investigating the locations specified
in the current evacuation plan and looking for alternate
routes out of La Paz. The SSAT will likely be in Bolivia for
two weeks. Additional military personnel may try to come to
support, but we need to be mindful that the Foreign Ministry
is tracking visa requests and that given the sensitivities of
the Morales government we need to be careful about the number
or personnel we bring in.

6. (S/NF) Given the extreme logistical difficulty of an
evacuation scenario for La Paz and Bolivia as a whole (with
no sea access, easily-blockaded roads, altitude issues in La
Paz, and a potentially hostile El Alto), SSAT will also look
at the advisability having early triggers for considering
Ordered Departure. EACWG agreed that the Bolivian government
would likely cooperate in a non-emergency Ordered Departure,
since much of Morales’ rhetoric has been about ’getting rid’
of the USG presence. Opposition forces would not be expected
to impede an Ordered Departure or a NEO. SSAT mentioned that
given La Paz’s challenges in an emergency, Ordered Departure
might have to be skipped and Post might have to go directly
from an initial hunker-down situation to a NEO. EACWG
welcomed any recommendations based on SSAT’s experience and
expertise and will consider them at the country team level.

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Possibility of a Public Diplomacy Campaign
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7. (S/NF) SSAT raised the possibility of a public diplomacy
campaign emphasizing the USG’s policy against coups and the
Mission’s non-involvement in any so-called "conspiracy" with
the opposition. EACWG will look into the possibility, but
emphasized the fact that Evo Morales has built a cult of
personality around himself, in large part based on demonizing
the USG. It is unlikely that, even given many months, a
public diplomacy campaign could alter popular perception of
the situation, and currently the situation does not allow
Post that much time.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Santa Cruz, Cochabamba, and other major cities
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8. (S/NF) Should violence intensify (after the assassination
of an opposition prefect, for example) in areas outside of La
Paz, fewer official Americans are currently at risk because
of the relocation and authorized departure process of the
past week. However, there are still non-official Americans
throughout the country and roughly thirteen DEA personnel
have just returned to Cochabamba. SSAT members pointed out
that the DEA and NAS presence in cities outside of La Paz had
previously been included in the plans to evacuate
non-official Americans from these areas. With these
personnel removed to La Paz, the plan for evacuating
non-official Americans in other areas must be revised.

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Discretion in Contacts, Actions
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9. (S/NF) A/DCM reminded SSAT team that Bolivia is a
high-risk environment for human intelligence against USG
personnel. EACWG also asked that SSAT team use discretion in
talking with contacts, since discussion of some of our plans
could cause panic or re-enforce government paranoia about our
role.

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Follow-up Action
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10. (S/NF) SSAT will brief the EACWG after conducting initial
surveys. SSAT agreed to work to develop the contingency
plans requested by the EACWG.

11. (U) POCs are RSO Patrick Moore (moorepj@state.gov) IVG
547-8300 and EconOff Beth Mader (maderea@state.gov) IVG
547-8052.
URS