On opening dialogue with younger celebrities

Download document: Cely-Correa 2014.03.30

Appeared in article: “Secret emails reveal Ecuador’s high-level campaign to win U.S. hearts and minds,” February 9, 2016.

Background & context

This is an email from Ecuadoran Ambassador to Washington Nathalie Cely from her me.com account to Ecuadoran Vice President Jorge Glas; copied to President Rafael Correa Delgado, and Communications Secretary Fernando Arevalo, March 30, 2014.

The email follows discussion in which the Ecuadoran leadership complained that older celebrities were not attracting the necessary attention to the regime’s propaganda line against Chevron.

Ambassador Cely discusses an Amazon Watch video, noting that Amazon Watch is an influential environmental organization that supports the Ecuadoran communities affected by oil spills allegedly affected by Chevron, while also being critical of the Ecuadoran government’s policies for bringing Chinese oil companies into the Yasuní region.

The problem for the Ecuadoran government was that Amazon Watch was not following the regime’s propaganda line. “It is important to note that Amazon Watch has been a critic of Ecuador on the influence of China in the management of natural resources and energy in Ecuador, as well as the commercialization of petroleum with this country,” Cely cautioned. “Also, we have to take into account that these critics amount to a new focus on Chevron’s dirty campaign, directly attacking our oil industry and environmental policies,” she said, urging that the government leadership prepare a proper messaging response.

Cely pulled the names of celebrities who appeared in an Amazon Watch video for the leadership’s consideration: Oscar winner Jared Leto of Dallas Buyers Club; Michelle Rodriguez of The Fast and the Furious and Avatar; Michelle Monaghan, who appeared in True Detective and The Bourne Supremacy; Benjamin Bratt of Law and Order and Traffic; Darryl Hannah, noted as a supporter of the Donziger Lago Agrio suit; Frances Fisher, who appeared in Titanic; actor and environmental activist Ed Begley and others.

Cely recommended that the embassy set up “channels of dialogue” with the celebrities, but did not recommend trying to recruit them, as was the case with others. “Our recommendation is that the embassy [in Washington] establish channels of dialogue with the participants in the video to explain that there is grave disinformation” among certain of its themes, she said.

“Of note, it seems like this video is being promoted only in Ecuador,” Cely said. “It hasn’t received any international attention, nevertheless, we should be careful about calling too much attention to it.”

“The Embassy (through BLJ) can get to those individuals to try to promote dialogue.”