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Cablegate: Argentina: Mendoza Governor-Elect and Ambassador Discuss

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TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9729
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INFO RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 6694
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 1594
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO 6903
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 0912
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 6580
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ 5008

UNCLAS BUENOS AIRES 002231

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TAGS: PREL GTIP SNAR TSPL SOCI ECON ENRG AR

SUBJECT: Argentina: Mendoza Governor-elect and Ambassador discuss
crime, education and other priorities

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Summary
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1. (SBU) Mendoza Province Governor-elect Celso Jaque said his main
challenge as governor will be to improve provincial security and to
upgrade education infrastructure and standards. In a cordial
November 8 meeting with Ambassador, Jaque also acknowledged poor
prison conditions in his province, which he pledged to address.
Jaque said that he wants to better exploit Mendoza's promising
energy and mining sectors. Ambassador and Jaque also discussed the
relatively high rate of child labor and school dropout rates in
Mendoza, and trafficking in persons. End summary.

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Big electoral victory
---------------------

2. (SBU) A current federal senator, Jaque expressed satisfaction
with the provincial and national October 25 election wins by both
the Victory Front and Peronist Party. Although historically a
Peronist, Jaque did not run under the Victory Front or Peronist
Party ballot for this election, but under a different coalition
embracing a number of local parties and alliances, but allied to
these two groups. He will replace Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner's
new vice President Julio Cobos. Jaque, however, defeated the
candidate supported by his predecessor and new Argentine Vice
President Cobos. Jaque won 38% of the provincial vote, far enough
ahead of his main rivals to avoid a runoff, and assumes office
December 9, a day prior to the presidential inauguration of
president-elect Cristina Kirchner Cobos, the latter who ran under
the Radical faction aligned with the Victory Front. Cristina
Kirchner won just over 60% of the provincial vote. The Victory
Front slate also won three of Mendoza's five seats in the national
lower house.

--------------------------------
But challenges ahead: security and crime, education, information
technology, healthcare, drugs, prison conditions, TIP and the
economy
---------------------------------

3. (SBU) Jaque was realistic about the challenges he faces to reform
Mendoza's security, education, healthcare, drugs, and prison
structures and to strengthen the provincial economy. He
acknowledged he will need to work hard to achieve broad consensus to
advance his reform platform, given that the opposition (Radicals and
other parties) controls both houses of the provincial Congress.

4. (U) Jaque identified growing crime as his top priority. During
his campaign, he promised a decrease in crime. He expressed
admiration to the Ambassador for former New York Mayor Rudolph
Giuliani and his crime-fighting policies, which he said emphasized
social inclusion and not merely a "zero tolerance" approach.

5. (U) Jaque lamented the "terrible" physical state of most
provincial schools, as well as low overall educational standards in
his province. Jaque said that he plans to add information
technology to the school curriculum, and increase the number of days
children must be in school. He also said that the province is in
urgent need of better and more housing. Ambassador encouraged Jaque
to consult with the Inter-American Development Bank for possible
technical assistance and project support in these areas.

6. (U) Jaque said that he would step up efforts to fight what he
said was an increase in provincial drug use and narcotics
trafficking. He said that he plans to launch prevention campaigns
and build rehabilitation centers, for which he would welcome any
Embassy assistance.

7. (U) Jaque also acknowledged the problem of provincial prison
overcrowding and brutality. Recently, the Argentine Supreme Court
has twice instructed the national and Mendoza governments to report
concrete measures taken to improve prison conditions to address
several rulings by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights on this
issue. Jaque said that he has plans to build four new prisons
during his term.

8. (SBU) Jaque acknowledged the problems of child labor and
trafficking in persons in his province. The Ambassador said that we

would be willing to work with Jaque to fight human trafficking.
According to official GOA figures, Mendoza suffers from relatively
high rates of child labor and school attrition. Although there are
no official statistics related to labor or sexual exploitation,
given the tourism boom and the acknowledged problem with
prostitution in many of Mendoza's urban centers, TIP is a possible
concern.

9. (SBU) On the economic front, Jaque said he wants to better
exploit the promising energy and mining sectors in the province.
(On the campaign trail, Jaque had proposed the creation of a
provincial energy company to explore and exploit new hydrocarbon
areas in conjunction with private companies.) Ambassador and Jaque
discussed the highly publicized controversy of Mendoza reporting
inflation figures much higher than the national average, and
allegations of subsequent GOA manipulation of these provincial
figures. Jaque said that, aside from dealing with this problem of
"methodology," the GOA needs to also deal with the root cause of
inflation.

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Jaque biography
----------------

10. (U) Governor-elect Celso Jaque was born and raised in Mendoza
province. He was previously both a national senator and congressman
from Mendoza Province, as well as mayor of his hometown of Malargue.
He is also a former vice president of the Mendoza Peronist Party.
Jaque has also been a teacher and economics researcher. He received
an accounting degree from the University of Cuyo. Jaque was born on
September 24, 1960, is married and has two daughters.

WAYNE

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