Cablegate: Media Reaction; Venezuela and Freedom of Expression; Ties
DE RUEHBU #0837/01 1201632
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 301632Z APR 07
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7994
INFO RHMFISS/CDR USSOCOM MACDILL AFB FL//SCJ2//
UNCLAS BUENOS AIRES 000837
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; VENEZUELA AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION; TIES
BETWEEN ARGENTINA AND BRAZIL; US-ARGENTINE MILITARY EXERCISES;
CRISTINA KIRCHNER'S TRIP TO WASHINGTON; 04/30/07; BUENOS AIRES
1. SUMMARY STATEMENT
Weekend international stories cover the closure of RCTV in
Venezuela; reinvigorated ties between Argentina and Brazil; the
upcoming US-Argentine naval exercises; and Argentine First Lady
Cristina Kirchner's trip to Washington.
2. OPINION PIECES AND EDITORIALS
- "Chavez and freedom of expression"
Daily-of-record "La Nacion" (04/30) editorializes "The Chavez
administration's suppression of Venezuela's freedom of expression
and information... has been demonstrated by increasingly serious
actions, threats and incidents...
".. Chavez, who controls all branches of government, has personally
decided to close Radio Caracas Television... based on the fact that
the private channel has promoted coups d'etat and political
destabilization during recent years...
"Regarding freedom of expression in the region, Gonzalo Marroquin,
head of the IAPA Press Freedom Committee, said that 'Venezuela has
become the country that has suffered most attacks from the
government against the media and journalists... While Chavez claims
that there is freedom of information and expression in his
country..., this is not true given the high degree of intolerance
and self-censorship due to fear of retaliation.'
"... In a democratic society, the existence of sound private media,
which are independent from political and economic power, is vital.
The case of RCTV should not be construed as an isolated event, but
rather part of the framework of a Venezuela that urgently needs to
strengthen genuine democratic pluralism, for which freedom of
expression is an indispensable condition."
- "Argentina, Brazil and the region"
Ricardo Kirschbaum, general editor of leading "Clarin," writes
(04/29) "Frequent recent contacts between the presidents of
Argentina and Brazil is an expression of the good state of bilateral
"... Venezuela has inserted itself to this understanding betwen
Lula and Kirchner. Both Kirchner and Lula have good ties with
"On the energy issue, Kirchner and Lula make up a tandem that is
determined to undertake common initiatives, while Chavez, who has a
broad and generous relationship with Fidel Castro, agrees with some
of those ideas and disagrees with others.
"Argentina and Brazil have strengthened their partnership and make
up a powerful reference point in the region and beyond, including
Calderon's Mexico, which they seek to incorporate.."
- "Military exercises with the US are resumed"
Daniel Gallo, political columnist of daily-of-record "La Nacion,"
writes (04/29) "After almost six years, military exercises with the
US will resume in Argentina. While ties betweens the military of
both countries were maintained through military exercises abroad,
US-Argentine combined exercises were not conducted due to the US
request for troop immunities, which was not granted by Argentina.
"After negotiations held during recent months, Washington agreed to
perform an operation without asking for full immunities, and this is
why the UNITAS naval exercise will be carried out next week.
"The last time Argentina carried out a military exercise with the US
was in September 2001, just as the September 11 attacks were
"The world has since changed. And in 2003, when the Eagle III air
exercise was to be performed, the US asked for immunities, a demand
that was made to all of the countries involved. Argentina refused to
grant them on the basis that Washington did not recognized the
International Criminal Court.
"In spite of this refusal, US troops, airplanes and ships entered
the country for the 2005 Mar del Plata Summit of the Americas to
protect every movement of President George W. Bush.
"This antecedent and the good ties between the military of the two
countries were considered when planning a military exercise without
the full immunity requested by Washington."
- "A short visit to Washington"
Ana Baron, Washington-based correspondent for leading "Clarin,"
writes (04/29) "Cristina Kirchner's strategy with the Jewish
community is very much like that of Carlos Menem with American
Cubans in Miami. According to Marc Jones, an expert in Argentina who
frequently gives advice to the USG on Argentina, 'the Jewish
community, like the Cuban, is a good channel to open doors to
Washington and can serve Cristina well if the Democrats win the
presidential elections.' 'In my opinion, this is what explains
Cristina's trip to Washington, but there could be some surprises.'
"In fact, Cristina's trip to the US will be very different from the
ones she recently made to France, Ecuador, Venezuela and Mexico,
where she met with presidents and government officials..
"In Washington, she will only attend a single event - the Gala
Dinner at the American Jewish Committee's Annual Assembly.
"... It is not a secret for anyone in Washington that following
Chavez's anti-Bush rally in Argentina while Bush was in Uruguay,
ties between the USG and the Argentine Government were totally
frozen. According to a US source, while there have been diplomatic
efforts from both embassies to ease the tension, 'the US Department
of State's top brass, and particularly the White House, does not
want to hear about Argentina.'
"... Then, what is the purpose of Cristina's trip to Washington? If
the purpose is to use the Jewish community in order to keep doors
open with Washington, the strategy could meet up with some
"The Jewish community is very grateful for the request by
Argentina's judiciary for international warrants for the capture of
former Iranian government officials, but there is also much distrust
over ties between Kirchner and Chavez. The American Jewish Committee
is one of Washington's most ferocious anti-Chavez lobbies.
"Cristina's strategy does not take into account that US annoyance
with Chavez is bipartisan."
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