"CONSPIRACY" PHOTO WORTH 1000 WORDS TO EVO

Código Fecha Clasificación Origen
07LAPAZ3002 13 November 2007 Confidencial Embassy La Paz

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C O N F I D E N T I A L LA PAZ 003002

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/13/2017
TAGS: ECON, PGOV, PREL, BL
SUBJECT: "CONSPIRACY" PHOTO WORTH 1000 WORDS TO EVO

REF: LA PAZ 2949

Classified By: EcoPol Chief Mike Hammer for reasons 1.4b,d.

1. (C) President Evo Morales used his speech at the
seventeenth Ibero-American Summit as another opportunity to
accuse the USG of conspiracy against Evo’s government. As
"evidence", Evo again displayed a copy of a photo taken a a
trade fair in September, showing the Ambassador with the head
of the Santa Cruz trade organization and a passer-by who has
since been identified as an alleged Colombian criminal. Evo
claimed that the man in the photo, Jhon Jairo Banegas, was a
Colombian paramilitary. Reportedly, President Alvaro Uribe
of Colombia requested information on the case at the summit,
and the Bolivian government has promised to provide copies of
their "investigation" and of the photograph. Colombian
Ambassador to Bolivia Edgar Papamija has publicly stated that
Banegas has no prior record in Colombia, which prompted
Government Minister Rada to warn Papamija of "grave
consequences."

2. (C) Morales again suggested that "While we are betting to
change Bolivia...there are some small groups of the oligarchy
who conspire in direct alliance with the representative of
the government of the United States." Morales went on to
describe the photograph as evidence of "an open conspiracy."
Morales claimed that while it might be easy to get close
enough to King Juan Carlos of Spain to take photos, "with the
ambassador of the United States in Bolivia it is impossible,
no one can get close, and therefore a photograph with a
Colombian paramilitary is inconceivable (without
conspiracy)." (Note: Evo’s reference to the photo and the
king of Spain prompted Spanish President Zapatero to turn,
smile and wink at the king.) Morales then recited the
alleged criminal history of Banegas, including assaults and
killings, while adding, "I want to comment to you all that a
North American brought in 500 bullets" (Note: referring to
the instance in July in which a friend of the La Paz milgroup
commander attempted to legally bring in bullets for practice
shooting. The Amcit was released by a judge who found she
had not acted in violation of any Bolivian law. End note.)

3. (C) Comment: Evo’s decision to raise this manufactured
"plot" against him in an international forum suggests that
his campaign of anti-U.S. rhetoric will continue and may
escalate. While we believe that Evo Morales genuinely
suspects the USG is conspiring against him, this very public
reiteration of false accusations suggests that Evo is trying
to draw attention away from an emerging crisis in Bolivia.
Evo has called for civic groups aligned with his Movement
Toward Socialism (MAS) party to march on Sucre this week in
defense of the Constituent Assembly. Evo’s rhetoric
regarding the USG may be an attempt to distract attention
away from MAS actions in Sucre or preemptively find a
scapegoat in case violence breaks out between his followers
and protesters in Sucre. End comment.

GOLDBERG