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Cablegate: Goa Interior Minister On Counternarcotics And

VZCZCXYZ0008
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBU #1246/01 1781451
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 271451Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8516
INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION PRIORITY 6277
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 6142
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ JUN 4718
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA PRIORITY 2074
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO PRIORITY 6538

C O N F I D E N T I A L BUENOS AIRES 001246

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

WHA/BSC FOR DREW BLAKENEY,
S/CT:ASIERRA
INL/LP:JHIDES

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/10/2017
TAGS: SNAR KCRM ASEC PREL PGOV AR
SUBJECT: GOA INTERIOR MINISTER ON COUNTERNARCOTICS AND
COUNTERTERRORISM COOPERATION

REF: BUENOS AIRES 1208

Classified By: Ambassador E. Anthony Wayne for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

1. (C) Summary. On June 25, Ambassador Wayne called on
Interior Minister Anibal Fernandez to discuss ongoing
counternarcotics (CN) cooperation in the Tri-Border Area
(TBA), the Department's offer to conduct a counterterrorism
(CT) assessment of Argentina, and status of TIP legislation
(reported septel). Fernandez briefed the Ambassador on the
GOA's efforts to enhance CN cooperation at the domestic and
international levels (reftel). When the Ambassador noted
that we were waiting for MOI decisions on GOA participation
in a CN initiative in the TBA and a general CT assessment,
the Minister immediately approved the CN initiative and asked
a subordinate to follow up with Argentina's intelligence
agency, SIDE, to obtain a recommendation on the CT
assessment. He told the Ambassador that he is in favor of
the CT assessment, but must wait for a recommendation from
SIDE before accepting the offer. When the Ambassador
informed Fernandez that the Transportation Security Agency
would be sending its February 2007 security assessment of
Ezeiza International Airport in the coming weeks, Fernandez
replied that he could take constructive criticism, especially
given that much investment is needed to enhance airport
security. Fernandez closed by downplaying press speculation
of a rift between him and the head of Airport Security Police
(PSA) Marcelo Sain, but he slammed Jose Granero, chief of the
Secretary of Planning for Prevention of Drug Abuse and Drug

SIPDIS
Trafficking (SEDRONAR), and his second in command Gabriel
Aboud. (Note: The Minister's comment reflects long-running
turf battles between the Minister and the Chiefs of PSA and
SEDRONAR. End Note.) End Summary.

GOA CN initiatives to improve interagency and international
cooperation
--------------------------------------------- --------------

2. (C) On June 25, Ambassador Wayne called on Interior
Minister Anibal Fernandez. He was accompanied by DEA Acting
Country Attache T.K. Solis and poloff. The Ambassador
praised the MOI's recent efforts to increase interagency
coordination and to develop mechanisms to identify and
prosecute drug trafficking networks (reftel). Minister
Fernandez noted that the GOA had recently completed an
assessment of the problem and had based its new initiatives
on that assessment. He expressed frustration with corruption
at the provincial level and pointed out that the GOA had ""not
made any important progress"" on drug and precursor chemical
seizures or in the detection of drug networks and labs. He
also noted that drugs seized have been of poor quality.
(Comment: Fernandez' negative assessment on previous
successes, particularly relating to precursor chemicals, is
likely tied to his ongoing turf battle with SEDRONAR, which
is responsible for developing and implementing the precursor
chemical control regime as well as anti-narcotics education
and use programs. In Embassy's assessment, SEDRONAR's
control regime has been well conceptualized and well run.
Fernandez does not like that there is another
counternarcotics agency not under his control and which
answers directly to the President. End Comment.)

3. (C) Fernandez also asserted that the Interior Ministry
should focus its efforts on busting large drug trafficking
networks, not the individual addict. Fernandez stated that
although he is against decriminalizing drug use, SEDRONAR and
the Ministry of Health should improve its efforts to
rehabilitate individual drug abusers. He indicated that only
2.5% of all federal cases related to drug trafficking result
in convictions. He noted that the cost of trial is AR5000
(approximately USD 1650), and that the cost of keeping a drug
addict in jail is AR5000 a month.

4. (C) The Ambassador expressed USG support for the GOA's
efforts to improve interagency and international CN
coordination. He noted that the USG enjoys cooperation with
the GOB in the area of law enforcement but not in
eradication. He then asked about Argentina's experience in
working with Bolivia. Fernandez stated that he had spoken to
Bolivian President Morales during a meeting with President
Kirchner. He noted that although Morales defends coca
production, he does not support the production of cocaine.
The Ambassador pointed out that Morales' stance is
contradictory, asking how increased coca production does not
lead to increased cocaine production? Fernandez ceded the
point, calling the GOB's eradication policies
""schizophrenic"". Nevertheless, he stated that he believes
Morales is willing to sign CN cooperation agreements and
reported that his Bolivian counterpart is currently
considering the GOA's offer to sign a CN information sharing
agreement. If the GOB approves it, Fernandez will travel to
Bolivia to sign the agreement. Fernandez stated that when it
comes to narcotrafficking issues in the region, however, he
is more concerned with Peru than with Bolivia. He indicated
that Peruvian President Garcia told him that he acknowledged
that many of Peru's ""least desirable"" citizens immigrated to
Argentina. He also added that Peruvians jailed for
drug-related crimes far outnumber Bolivians in Argentine
prisons.

Fernandez moves bureaucracy on USG CN and CT initiatives
after significant delays
--------------------------------------------- -----------

5. (C) The Ambassador then raised CN cooperation in the
TBA, noting that Prefectura had received the MOI's approval
to participate in the new Eastern Border Task Force in
Misiones. He pointed out, however, that Gendarmerie was
still waiting for MOI approval to participate in the task
force. Fernandez immediately placed a call to the National
Gendarmerie's Commanding General Hector Schenone authorizing
Gendarmerie's participation in the force.

6. (C) Similarly, when the Ambassador informed Fernandez
that the Embassy still had not received an answer from the
MOI regarding the Department's anti-terrorism assistance
(ATA) offer to conduct a CT assessment in Argentina, he
immediately called a subordinate to follow up with
Argentina's intelligence service (SIDE) to obtain their
recommendation on the proposal. He explained to the
Ambassador that he is in favor of the assessment, but must
wait for a recommendation from SIDE before accepting the
offer. (Embassy has already followed up with SIDE who
indicated approval will be forthcoming soonest.)

Fernandez: GOA can take TSA Constructive Criticism,
Particuarly When Done Privately
--------------------------------------------- ------
7. (C) Finally, the Ambassador noted that the
Transportation Security Agency had very recently completed
its official confidential letter regarding the February 2007
security assessment of Ezeiza International Airport, and that
the report would likely include a discussion of areas for
improvement. Minister Fernandez indicated that he can accept
constructive criticism, ""particularly when it's done
privately"", and that these evaluations help to promote needed
reforms. He noted that Argentina needs to make significant
investment in its airport security infrastructure and
training.

Fernandez Comments on Relationships with other Security
Agency Chiefs
--------------------------------------------- ----------

8. (C) Fernandez, unprompted, then downplayed any public
rift between him and Airport Security Police (PSA) National
Director Dr. Marcelo Fabian Sain as speculated in recent
press articles. He asserted that he and Sain share the same
vision, and that the argument is not over the GOA's
counternarcotics strategy but over investment to address the
problem. The GOA's self-critical evaluation of its efforts
to combat narcotrafficking is not directed at the PSA, which
has only been in existence for the last two years, rather it
focuses on the lack of progress in general over the last 18
years. He stated that instead of criticizing the PSA, he
applauds their efforts. He added that when a journalist
asked him why the Minister does not fire Sain, he replied
that Sain is a good official and that he would not sack Sain
over an argument. Fernandez privately indicated to the
Ambassador, that he would sack Jose Granero, head of
SEDRONAR, whose second in command, Gabriel Aboud, is ""a joke""
(porqueria). (Comment: The Minister's comments reveal his
micromanagement tendencies and reflect long-running turf
battles between the Minister and the chiefs of SEDRONAR and
PSA. Granero answers directly to President Kirchner which
irritates Fernandez and makes it difficult for him to
criticize Granero or Aboud publicly. Fernandez's comments on
Sain are interesting as we continue to hear reports that
their relationship is tense, also possibly due to Sain's
direct links to Kirchner. End Comment.)

Comment
-------

9. (C) A temperamental interlocuter, Minister Fernandez was
in a good mood and seemed unbothered by the news that PRO
candidate Mauricio Macri won this weekend's election for
Mayor of Buenos Aires city. During the meeting, he described
himself as ""pro-American as you can get"" in Argentina. He
expressed a willingness to work with us on counternarcotics,
counterterrorism, and trafficking in persons issues; and
stressed that he can take constructive criticism, whether it
comes from the TIP report or TSA, so long as it is done
privately.
WAYNE

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