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Viewing cable 08SANJOSE882, GOCR FEARS THAT LAX ECUADOR VISA POLICY IS FUELING

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08SANJOSE882 2008-11-12 22:10 2011-03-07 18:06 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy San Jose
Appears in these articles:
http://www.nacion.com/2011-03-06/Investigacion/NotasDestacadas/Investigacion2702320.aspx
http://www.nacion.com/2011-03-06/Investigacion/NotasSecundarias/Investigacion2702325.aspx
http://www.nacion.com/2011-03-06/Investigacion/NotaPrincipal/Investigacion2702324.aspx
http://www.nacion.com/2011-03-06/Investigacion/NotasSecundarias/Investigacion2702326.aspx
http://www.nacion.com/2011-03-06/Investigacion/NotasSecundarias/Investigacion2702327.aspx
VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSJ #0882/01 3172209
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 122209Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY SAN JOSE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0256
INFO RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY 1351
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL PRIORITY 0166
RHEFHLC/HOMELAND SECURITY CENTER WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/US CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 0149
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
C O N F I D E N T I A L SAN JOSE 000882 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPARTMENT FOR WHA/CEN, WHA/AND, WHA/PPC, EAP/CM AND CA 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/12/2018 
TAGS: PREL PTER ASEC CVIS KCRM KFRD EC KTIP CS
SUBJECT: GOCR FEARS THAT LAX ECUADOR VISA POLICY IS FUELING 
ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION 
 
Classified By: DCM Peter M. Brennan for reason 1.4(d). 
 
-------- 
SUMMARY 
------- 
 
1. (C) "Ecuador is causing instability for all America" since 
it dropped its tourist visa requirements for all 
nationalities in June, according to Mario Zamora, head of the 
GOCR General Directorate of Immigration (DGI, Spanish 
acronym).  GOCR Immigration officials that traveled to 
Ecuador in October reported that approximately 10,000 Chinese 
had entered Ecuador over the last four months.  Zamora feared 
that these Chinese were heading for Costa Rica and for the 
United States and that many could fall victim to forced labor 
trafficking or human smuggling "coyotaje."  Some had applied 
for Costa Rican permanent residency in Beijing and then asked 
that their notification be sent to them in Ecuador, 
suggesting the beginning of an organized fraud pattern. 
Zamora told us that flights from Ecuador through Costa Rica 
(a TACA Airlines hub for flights headed north) had become 
"very cosmopolitan," and he feared an influx of irregular 
migration of Eastern Europeans, Arabs, South Americans and 
Africans.  END SUMMARY. 
 
------------------------------------------ 
CHINESE: INCREASED NUMBERS; POSSIBLE FRAUD 
------------------------------------------ 
 
2. (C) The DGI became concerned recently when officials 
noticed a pattern among non-related Chinese "family 
reunification" residency petitions.  Approximately 10 to 15 
cases surfaced, involving young males aged 17 to 20, in which 
the applicants filed petitions in Beijing to come to Costa 
Rica, but requested that status notifications be sent to 
Ecuador.  Zamora admitted that it did not make sense for 
Chinese to await Costa Rican residency in Ecuador, and he 
offered as hypotheses that an organized fraud ring was 
smuggling or trafficking Chinese, or that such a ring was 
arranging valid residencies for Chinese but then using the 
documents for impostors waiting in Ecuador.  Zamora, 
following a policy of "caution and prevention," dispatched 
two officials to Quito last month to reinforce training for 
GOCR consuls and to meet with Ecuadorian and Chinese 
officials.  The DGI halted the above-mentioned residency 
cases; the applicants will have to reapply under tighter 
documentary requirements, including signatures of both 
parents on application forms, and GOCR consuls in Beijing and 
Quito will take a closer look at the underlying Chinese 
documents, such as birth certificates, for evidence of fraud. 
 
3. (C) According to a DGI report provided to us, Ecuadorian 
Immigration Director Luis Ordonez Sanchez told the GOCR DGI 
that between June 20 and the October meeting, 10,748 Chinese 
had entered Ecuador and 4826 of those had departed, 
compared to 2007 statistics showing only 4776 Chinese entries 
and 4417 departures.  Ordonez reported that even with those 
statistics, it was too early to determine the positive or 
negative effect that dropping the visa requirement had, even 
though officials were aware that many of the Chinese were 
looking to the U.S. as their final destination.  Ordonez said 
that the measure was designed to increase tourism, investment 
and trade, as well as to "increase the free movement of 
people into and out of the country." 
 
4. (C) According to the DGI report, in a separate meeting 
with Chinese Political Counselor in Ecuador Gu Jiafeng, Gu 
told DGI officials that the majority of Chinese who had 
entered since June 20 came from the poorest provinces, Fujian 
and Guadong, and the Chinese government was concerned that 
they would fall victim to trafficking and smuggling rings in 
Ecuador.  Gu reportedly said that only a third had departed 
Ecuador "regularly" and that the rest stayed in Ecuador or 
sought to go illegally to Brazil, Colombia, Peru or to their 
most desired destination - the United States. 
 
----------------------------------- 
FLIGHTS FROM ECUADOR "COSMOPOLITAN" 
----------------------------------- 
 
5. (C) Zamora noted that daily flights arriving to San Jose 
from Ecuador had recently become "very cosmopolitan" and were 
receiving more scrutiny.  Before, these flights carried more 
 
"local" clientele but now included many South Americans and 
Eastern Europeans, among others.  Zamora explained that San 
Jose is a hub for TACA Airlines' northbound flights. The DGI 
detected a pattern that these more "diverse" flights from 
Ecuador were generally transiting Costa Rica and headed to 
Guatemala or Belize - two countries with extremely porous 
Mexican borders - as their final destination. 
 
-------------------------------------------- 
OTHER NATIONALITIES USING ECUADOR AS BRIDGE? 
-------------------------------------------- 
 
6. (C) According to Zamora, Ecuadorian Immigration officials 
told DGI officials that an unspecified number of Arabs were 
now arriving in Ecuador.  Anecdotally, Zamora told us that he 
was concerned regarding Iraqis, Afghans and Iranians 
transiting Ecuador to Colombia via land, moving to an 
unspecified destination "north," who were caught and deported 
from Colombia.  Ecuadorian Immigration told the DGI that the 
administration's decision to drop visa requirements came as a 
surprise to the Immigration department.  GOCR consuls in 
Ecuador reported an increase in all types of visa 
applications since June 20. 
 
7. (C) Lastly, Zamora expressed concern about a potential 
influx of African migration to the region.  Whereas before 
Brazilian Immigration was an obstacle even though there were 
direct flights from Africa, now Africans could transit 
Brazil and land in Ecuador.  From there, they could migrate 
over land. 
 
------- 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
8. (C) COMMENT:  Zamora's efforts at "caution and prevention" 
are welcome and are in keeping with his efforts to enforce 
Costa Rican immigration law more vigorously and to work with 
regional counterparts (and us) more closely.  We sense that 
his instincts are correct, and we appreciate his more 
"strategic" view of immigration throughout the region. 
Though Zamora told us that there had thus far been no 
indication that the emerging immigration patterns included 
terrorist activity, he remains attentive to U.S. concerns, 
and he continues to work closely with us on these issues.  We 
would be interested in Embassy Quito's/ConGen Guayaquil's 
read of the Chinese immigration picture.  Please advise.  END 
COMMENT. 
CIANCHETTE