Monday, May 2nd, 2011
On Saturday, the 30th of April of this current year, at the Bolling Air Force Base, military and police personnel of Ecuador who perform functions in Washington, D.C. represented the country in the International Encounter of the Americas, organized by the InterAmerican Defense Council together with representations from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, the United States, Mexico, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, Guatemala, El Salvador, Panama and Nicaragua, who displayed crafts, traditional dress, folklore and dishes characteristic of each and every one of their countries.
In the case of Ecuador’s tent, Ecuadorian military and police personnel were supported by their spouses and children who dressed in diverse traditional clothing from the different regions of the country. They displayed to visitors our crafts, folklore and tourism destinations, and invited them to taste Ecuador’s traditional roasted pig and shrimp ceviche.
The principal authorities of the different countries accredited in Washington attended this event. In the case of Ecuador, the authorities that attended the event were Minister Efraín Baus, Chargé d’Affairs at the Embassy of Ecuador; Mrs. María Isabel Salvador, Ecuador’s Permanent Representative to the OAS; Mrs. Janina Smith, Consul General of Ecuador in Washington, D.C.; as well as several officials from the Embassy of Ecuador in the United States.
Washington, DC, May 2, 2011
Monday, April 11th, 2011
In an expected diplomatic “tit for tat” response to Ecuador’s decision to declare the U.S. Ambassador to Ecuador persona non grata following Wikileaks’ disclosure of confidential correspondence, the U.S. Department of State declared on April 7, 2011 Ambassador Luis Gallegos persona non grata in the United States, stating that it was left with “no other option than this reciprocal action.”
G3ict and disability advocates who have worked with Ambassador Gallegos on drafting the text of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities sincerely regret to see him and his spouse Fabiola leave the United States under this unfortunate and unpredictable set of diplomatic circumstances.
Ambassador of Ecuador to the United States since 2005, His Excellency Luis Gallegos had been permanent representative of Ecuador to the United Nations since 2002, and as such played a critical role as founding chair of the Ad Hoc Preparatory Committee of the United Nations General Assembly responsible for the drafting of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. His leadership and diplomatic skills were instrumental in setting the stage to bringing the drafting process to fruition in a very short period of time. Scholars will note that it is under his leadership that, for the first time in history, an international treaty was negotiated with direct real time input from stakeholders via electronic means expanding the reach and effectiveness of the drafting committee in unprecedented ways. It exemplified the new paradigm of “nothing about us without us” dear to the Disability Community and was a landmark in Human Rights treaties since it permitted the ownership of the issue by those who suffer discrimination. As a result, the Committee delivered a most comprehensive, practical and much needed universal legal framework for countries to affirm and protect the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It is an extraordinary tribute to the Ad Hoc Preparatory Committee and its founding Chair, Ambassador Luis Gallegos, that 147 countries, including the United States, have now signed the Convention and 99 ratified it – a historic achievement.
In December 2006, as the General Assembly was adopting the final text of the Convention, Ambassador Gallegos agreed to chair G3ict’s Board of Trustees to help us promote the very innovative ICT accessibility dispositions established by its Article 9. His inspiration, friendship and incredibly generous availability to join our advocacy, government and civil society briefing activities around the world over the past five years have been instrumental in our ability to establish G3ict as a trusted source of information, innovative solutions and good practices.
Our sincere appreciation goes to Ambassador Gallegos for his indefectible commitment to promoting accessibility and the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, for his work at the United Nations Committee against Torture and for his many contributions to Human Rights issues. Whether in the United States, in Ecuador or anywhere else in the world, Ambassador Gallegos’ wisdom and experience will continue to be a most valuable resource for all of us involved in accessibility and Human Rights matters. Our best wishes and warmest regards to him and his family in this unexpected transition.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, G3ICT
Saturday, April 9th, 2011
We’re sad to see Ecuador’s ambassador Luis Gallegos sent packing from Washington, the latest casualty in the WikiLeaks controversy.
In a previous posting, he chaired the UN’s Ad Hoc Committee on a Comprehensive and Integral International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, granting recognition to the struggles and rights of a community that numbers more than 650 million worldwide. He once said, “Society has to recognize that it should not exclude persons with disabilities. This is a very important group of people, representing ten percent of the world’s population.”
He had a big challenge in Washington, too – representing a small country, fighting alongside a tiny but effective staff, challenging the indifference or biases of policy makers, often facing an army of U.S. lobbyists, on issues ranging from trade to immigration, to the rights of diplomats to the war on drugs, to the grievous environmental damage Ecuador suffered at the hands of Chevron. He did this and more with a lowered voice, an incisive mind, and an abiding sense of humor, which he needed.
We will miss him.
Thursday, April 7th, 2011
Upon completing my diplomatic Mission in the United States, which began October 3, 2005, I do not wish to depart without reaffirming my sincere gratitude for your constant support in the defense of the highest interests of the country, in representing Ecuador, and in the work that day to day we have carried out so that, with your invaluable support, the message of our country has had a constant presence not only in the different instances of the Federal Administration and local government, but also in the distinct sectors of the civil society, forums, universities and in the society as a whole.
During my stay at the Embassy of Ecuador in the United States we have lived moments of enormous satisfaction, others more difficult, and we have gone together overcoming all the challenges that we have had to face. Ahead we have another greater challenge, which I hope we will overcome in the eagerness that exists between Ecuador and the United States a relationship of mutual respect, benefit and collaboration, as is simply logical.
I depart with the satisfaction of having honored, to the best of my abilities, the confidence entrusted in me by the President of the Republic and I reiterate my commitment to continue working with the same commitment to service to the country that I have tried to procure during the 45 years of my diplomatic career.
To you, dear compatriots, once again my gratitude for the innumerable shows of support that I have received and my recognition of your work far from Ecuador, whereby each day you elevate more the name of the Homeland.
With heartfelt sentiments of gratitude,
Thursday, April 7th, 2011
Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino explained that the Government of the United States decided to declare the Ambassador of Ecuador to the United States, Luis Gallegos, persona non grata. He is currently preparing to return to Ecuador.
The Ambassador was called to the United States Department of State to inform him about the decision. The document presented to the diplomat is similar to that which Ecuador presented to the United States Ambassador Heather Hodges, both of which are based on Article 9 of the Vienna Convention, establishing the declaration of “persona non grata”. President Rafael Correa knows about this decision.
“Our Ambassador has told us that Under Secretary Arturo Valenzuela expressed that he laments having to make this decision but that there was no alternative, but these are normal diplomatic procedures, so it is possible that we can maintain the level of cordial relations that we have had. We hope that in a few weeks we can reinitiate dialogue with the United States and move past this moment,” said the Minister.
Regarding the case of the return of Ambassador Gallegos, the Government of the United States has not established a timeline for the Ambassador to leave the country, though it prefers he do so in as little time as possible.