Cablegate: Media Reaction; U/S Nicholas Burns's Criticism Of
DE RUEHBU #0587/01 0852046
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 262046Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7654
INFO RHMFISS/CDR USSOCOM MACDILL AFB FL//SCJ2//
UNCLAS BUENOS AIRES 000587
STATE FOR INR/R/MR, I/GWHA, WHA, WHA/PDA, WHA/BSC,
CDR USSOCOM FOR J-2 IAD/LAMA
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPAO OPRC KMDR PREL MEDIA REACTION
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION; U/S NICHOLAS BURNS'S CRITICISM OF
ARGENTINA; ARGENTINE TIES TO VENEZUELAN HUGO CHAVEZ 03/26/07; BUENOS
1. SUMMARY STATEMENT
Weekend international stories focus on the implications of US Under
Secretary for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns' critical statements
about Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's anti-US President Bush
rally in Buenos Aires. Daily-of-record "La Nacion" carries an
editorial highlighting that "nothing could be worse for Argentina
than if the Chavez regime were to be considered its main and best
2. OPINION PIECES
- "Even though the US-Argentine spat is downplayed, the
(US-Argentine) relationship is no longer the same"
Ana Baron, Washington-based correspondent for leading "Clarin,"
penned (03/24) "US and Argentine diplomats downplayed the tension
sparked by President Hugo Chavez's rally in Argentina and the
exchange of statements it unleashed. Both sides said they will
continue focusing on the issues in which the two countries agree.
Nevertheless, some aspects of the bilateral relationship have been
"According to an unidentified US source, the White House considers
the Ferro rally one more piece of evidence of what Under Secretary
Nicholas Burns termed Argentine 'inconsistency' in its ties to the
"... The Argentine Foreign Ministry argues that Argentina does not
pose a threat such as that of Iran or North Korea. However, the
country does not have the same strategic weight for the White House.
Also, the Ferro rally is Kirchner's third public rebuff against
Bush. And this is not a minor issue. You must recall that the first
one occurred at the Monterrey Summit... Then came the Summit of the
"US U/S for Political Affairs Nicholas Burs said that his February
trip was so positive that he thought that the disagreement over the
summit had been left behind. This is why, according to him, the
Ferro rally was unfortunate.
"Sources consulted by 'Clarin' said the Ferro rally put an end to
any further attempt of 'presidential diplomacy.' If there was any
possibility that Kirchner and Bush could meet again, this door has
been totally closed."
- "The US reaffirms its posture of criticism"
Hugo Alconada Mon, Washington-based correspondent for
daily-of-record "La Nacion," comments (03/24) "According to sources
in the G.O.P. and outside of it, Nicholas Burns, number three at the
US Department of State, expressed the prevailing feeling in the Bush
administration about the Argentine Government, although he was wrong
in the way he did so -- to the degree that he generated disagreement
within the US Department of State.
"According to a Washington source, the US position, which was
expressed by Burns, is firm. 'The US and Argentina are very close
and major allies in issues... such as non proliferation or
"The prevailing view in the Bush administration is that Kirchner
'gets as close to Chavez as he can to get money out of him' due to
domestic needs. 'Kirchner has no foreign policy. Everything he does
is based on domestic interests.'
"... Behind the scenes, a high-ranking source at the Bush
administration reaffirmed Burns and Shannon's stance: 'Argentina and
Brazil's interests in South America are different from ours.
However, both should acknowledge that Venezuela's purposes are
dreadful and that, sooner or later, the Chavez administration will
collapse and Argentina and Brazil will have to get more involved.'"
- "A shot that hit the wrong target"
Hugo Alconada Mon, Washington-based correspondent for
daily-of-record "La Nacion," writes (03/24) "Nicholas Burns was
wrong. Being one of the 'nine stars' of US diplomacy, with a
thorough knowledge of Europe and the Middle East, (Burns)
demonstrated he does not understand Latin America's manners and
reactions. He wanted to convey an explicit message to Argentina and
he did so based on his own perceptions. He was in Buenos Aires when
Nestor Kirchner lashed out at the US due to its interest in
purchasing Transener (February 9). One month later, on March 9, Hugo
Chavez led his BA rally. Those two events in one month perhaps were
too much in the Anglo-Saxon's view.
"(Burns) mistreated the Argentine Ambassador in public in front of
diplomats, academics and journalists...
"He forced some reaction from Buenos Aires. As Tom Shannon knows
well, Kirchner reacts to whatever appears on the front pages of
"He troubled the US-Argentine bilateral relationship...
"He frustrated the debate that the US official silence had set off
in Buenos Aires... Burns' statements made those who rejected
Chavez's rally in Argentina appear to be pro-US. Not many in Buenos
Aires would like such a connection.
"He facilitated Chavez's work... and Kirchner's re-election or his
wife's ascension... Between 60-70 percent of Argentines reject
President Bush and a US claim would contribute votes to the
Government rather than depriving it from them.
"He strengthened the prevailing stereotypes about the US in Latin
America. Washington is seen as an imperialist, clumsy and
aggressive, elephant also in Argentina.
"He contributed one more argument to Kirchner's usual
"He weakened his own team for Latin America. The question is how
much power Shannon has. Who is the boss? Why negotiate with him when
John Negroponte, the number two at the US Department, or Burns,
implement different policies in the region?..."
- "Kirchner defies the US and Brazil at the same time"
Joaquin Morales Sola, political analyst of daily-of-record "La
Nacion," opines (03/25) "Something Argentina had never been able to
do was promoting simultaneous frictions with the US and Brazil.
Kirchner managed to do it. Washington also had its own satisfaction
- just a few times before had a government publicly expressed a
face-to-face complaint to another government through its ambassador.
Nicholas Burns, Condoleezza Rice's most entrusted diplomat, did
exactly this with Argentine Ambassador Jose Octavio Bordon. It must
have been the most uncomfortable moment of Bordon's entire life.
"Did the Argentine Government ignore that Chavez's rally in Buenos
Aires, at the same time Bush was visiting Uruguay, could bother the
US? Certainly, it is impossible that the Argentine Government could
ignore it... Kirchner allowed Chavez to stage his anti-Bush stunt in
Buenos Aires despite the opposition of most of his Cabinet. Why did
he do it? According to an official version, Kirchner understood
Bush's Latin American tour was an attempt to divide Mercosur
countries. Bush was in Uruguay when Chavez's provocation took place.
Unfortunately, Argentina and Uruguay do not need Bush to be divided.
They already are, and the reasons for this can only be found in
"... According to important USG officials, consequences are easily
predictable. No USG office will move one finger from now on to help
Argentina in the renegotiation of its defaulting debt to the Paris
"Kirchner's behavior only weakens the moderates in Washington, Tom
Shannon among them. U/S Nicholas Burns was also expressing personal
disappointment, because he had trusted in Kirchner.
"... The USG will not encourage its companies to invest in
Argentina. This is another conclusion, although corporations can
always make their own decisions."
- "Chavez, Argentina and the world"
Daily-of-record "La Nacion" editorializes (03/25) "After Venezuelan
President Hugo Chavez's latest visit to Argentina, some have tried
to downplay the implications of his rally for the country. The US
claim, which was expressed by the number three at the US Department
of State, Nicholas Burns, is against those impressions.
"Having used the city of Buenos Aires as a stage of confrontation
between Venezuela's strong man and the US President has been, at
least, crazy according to the most basic diplomatic standards.
Argentine authorities should have noticed that it was advisable to
distance themselves from the most controversial aspects of Chavez's
visit to the country.
"Chavez has repeatedly infringed on the principle of
non-interference in the domestic affairs of other nations, which is
an explicit principle in the OAS Chart...
"Chavez is also an unusual strategic ally of Iran, which is accused
of ties to the international terrorism... In the arms race on which
Chavez is embarked, he is purchasing sophisticated weapons from this
country, which implies a threat to regional peace and security.
"In this framework, Argentina continues without full access to
international loan markets... In such a fragile situation, the
national government has found in Chavez a creditor who is willing to
purchase new Argentine public debts bonds and finance some of its
projects. Nothing is for free in politics and less SO in
"... Argentina has to work hard to build relations with those
nations that share its democratic tradition and culture. Nothing
could be worse for Argentina that the Chavez regime be considered
its main and best ally."
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