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Cablegate: Bilateral Engagement Results in Improved Public Reaction To

VZCZCXRO6534
RR RUEHRG
DE RUEHBR #0607/01 0951923
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 051923Z APR 07
FM AMEMBASSY BRASILIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8593
INFO RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEHRG/AMCONSUL RECIFE 6487
RUEHSO/AMCONSUL SAO PAULO 9586
RUEHRI/AMCONSUL RIO DE JANEIRO 4172
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES 4706
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO 6842
RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 6045
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 6186

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BRASILIA 000607

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL BR
SUBJECT: BILATERAL ENGAGEMENT RESULTS IN IMPROVED PUBLIC REACTION TO
US-BRAZIL REALTIONS.


1. (U) Summary. A number of high level visits by USG officials to
Brazil, culminating in two Presidential visits have given us an
unprecedented opportunity to get our views into the media. As a
result, a more positive tone has started to emerge in the media and
public opinion, with residual skepticism being outweighed by an
upbeat depiction of USG-GOB relations. End summary.

2. (U) Stories on the US-Brazilian relationship have dominated the
international news in Brazil over the last month, especially around
President Bush's visit to Sao Paulo in early March and President
Lula's visit to Camp David. Together with other high level visits,
including Attorney General Gonzalez and Undersecretary Burns have
led to a higher and significantly improved profile for the bilateral
relationship, as well as an unprecedented opportunity to get our
views before the media. Agreements on biofuels, education, tax
information exchange, S&T cooperation, and the establishment of a
CEO Forum contributed to a more positive view of US-Brazil
relations.

3. (U) The U.S. acknowledgement of Brazil as a "regional leader and
global partner," as well as the invitation to Camp David, widely
reported as the first Bush has extended to a Latin American leader
in many years, played very well in the news media.

4. (U) While there continue to be skeptics, the message that the
bilateral relationship is moving forward on a positive agenda is
finding greater resonance. This is primarily due to successful
media outreach using senior US officials, a biofuels agreement that
many Brazilians see as positive, and official Brazilian government
statements, including Lula's, that incorporated and amplified our
themes.

5. (U) Mission Brasilia carried out a media campaign involving over
forty interviews, op-eds, press conferences, speeches and editorial
boards meetings by/for USG officials. Ambassador Sobel and senior
USG visitors gave interviews to major print and electronic media,
including all of the top circulation newspapers and the largest
television and radio networks. Ambassador also conducted a phone-in
press conference with the six major regional newspapers. The
central theme was to highlight the developing US-Brazil partnership
and our mutual commitment to "make a good relationship even better"
by moving forward on a positive agenda involving trade, biofuels and
a broad range of other topics - commercial, educational, legal,
environmental, etc. A/S Shannon and NSC's Fisk reinforced this
message in Washington-based interviews.

6. (U) President Lula's own statements reinforced and echoing our
message, particularly after his visit to Camp David. He stressed
the transformational importance of the biofuels agreement and a
"strategic relationship" that would allow the US and Brazil to
develop new models for economic development, trade policy, and for
dealing with global issues such as the environment. This is the
first time he has used the term "strategic" regarding the US-Brazil
relationship.

7. (U) The more positive spirit in US Brazilian relations is
typified by O Estado de S. Paulo economic columnist Alberto Tamer,
who wrote that despite differences over Petrobras investments in
Iran, the Camp David meeting confirmed the "new climate" in Brazil's
relations with the U.S. "This is important and represents a major
step forward," Tamer added.

8. (U) A month of very intensive engagement has ensured that such
positive views are now more widely disseminated in the Brazilian
media and has set the stage for further positive stories. Concerted
use of the Ambassador and other USG officials to spread our message
resulted in widespread press coverage that was on the mark, with GOB
officials even repeating our own positive statements about
strengthening the strategic partnership.

9. (SBU) Comment: The positive press play and favorable official
rhetoric show how far we have come in changing official and public
perceptions of the relationship. In the past we would have expected
a more skeptical reaction (such as the one that followed previous
visits) and a repetition of the usual anti-American rhetoric.
Mainstream negative views were mainly limited to warnings against
over optimism, rather than condemnations, about the new
relationship. Even the dissenters seem to accept the main features
of the new relationship, and their warnings were mainly about the
affects that production of ethanol could have on the environment and
food supplies. A few senators and the Catholic bishops' conference
voiced concerns about problems associated with sugar cane
cultivation and a possible new role for Brazil as an energy supplier

BRASILIA 00000607 002 OF 002


to the U.S. World trade negotiations, international cooperation in
Haiti and elsewhere, and other topics by and large were not
questioned, if not ignored. Mainstream commentators did not
complain of US heavy-handedness or an asymmetrical relationship.
Professor Ricardo Sennes, of the Pontifical Catholic University of
Sao Paulo, told Veja magazine that "both sides are signaling a
diplomatic course correction." Much of the media focus was on the
realization that Brazil is finally and genuinely important to the
U.S., how Brazil could best benefit from the U.S.' newfound interest
in Brazil's ethanol, and Brazil's important role in the Doha
negotiations, among other areas. The new view of the bilateral
relationship is an excellent basis for future work. End comment.

CHICOLA

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