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Cablegate: Thefts of Baggage at Buenos Aires International Airport

VZCZCXYZ0011
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBU #2211 3190801
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 150801Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9698
INFO RHMCSUU/FBI WASHINGTON DC
RULSDMK/DEPT OF TRANSPORTATION WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHINGTON DC
RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 6685
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO 6894
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 0903
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 6567
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ 5002

UNCLAS BUENOS AIRES 002211

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: CASC EAIR PREL KCOR KCRM CMGT CJAN ASEC AR

SUBJECT: THEFTS OF BAGGAGE AT BUENOS AIRES INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

Refs: BUENOS AIRES 2149

1. (SBU) Ambassador recently informed Argentina's Foreign Minister
Taiana and Interior Minister Fernandez that the Embassy would be
updating its Consular Information Sheet to include a warning to U.S.
travelers about thefts at Argentina's Ezeiza International Airport.

2. (SBU) On October 24, Ambassador told Interior Minister Anibal
Fernandez that given the recent arrests and declarations by airport
security authorities about organized thefts of goods from travelers'
luggage at Buenos Aires' main international airport, the USG has a
legal responsibility to warn U.S. travelers of this danger.
Ambassador noted that the Embassy had already discussed the matter
directly with the head of the airport security police (reftel).
Minister Fernandez said he fully understood the Ambassador's message
and acknowledged that thefts at the airport by employees were a
serious problem which GOA authorities were working hard to address.
The Minister said that he was determined to improve both security
and convenience at the airport and recounted that just two days
previously he had convened a meeting of all relevant authorities to
review efforts to make improvements.

3. (SBU) On October 26, Ambassador also raised the issue of thefts
from airport baggage with Foreign Minister Jorge Taiana, who was
accompanied by U/S for bilateral affairs Vicente Espeche Gil.
Ambassador again explained that given the recent highly-publicized
cases of thefts from travelers' baggage at Ezeiza airport, arrests
of employees, and public statements by airport security officials
about the problem, the USG needed to inform U.S. citizen travelers
via our Consular Information System. The Ambassador noted that we
would seek to be factual, not alarmist. The Minister and U/S said
they understood the U.S. legal need to act. They asked that we give
them a head's-up before the new information appears in order that
they could help manage any reactions. (Last time the USG issued a
new Consular Information Sheet, the Argentine President reacted
angrily and told the Minister to call the Ambassador in to receive a
protest.) They also asked that we take another look at language on
the Tri-border area, which they said they felt exaggerated the
dangers to U.S. travelers to Argentina. The Ambassador agreed to
look at the language and keep the MFA North America desk informed as
we prepare a new Information Sheet.

4. (SBU) Embassy subsequently updated the Consular Information
Sheet and will be submitting it to the Department. We believe the
MFA will work with us to avoid any untoward reaction from senior
levels of the GOA, and ask that Washington coordinate closely with
Embassy on the timing of the release so we can keep the MFA
informed.

WAYNE

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