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Cablegate: Media Reaction; Venezuelan-Cuban Confederation; Brazil's

VZCZCXYZ0001
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBU #2237/01 3240749
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 200749Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9734
INFO RHMFISS/CDR USSOCOM MACDILL AFB FL//SCJ2//
RULGPUA/USCOMSOLANT

UNCLAS BUENOS AIRES 002237

SIPDIS

STATE FOR INR/R/MR, I/GWHA, WHA, WHA/PDA, WHA/BSC,
WHA/EPSC
CDR USSOCOM FOR J-2 IAD/LAMA

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPAO OPRC KMDR PREL
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION; VENEZUELAN-CUBAN CONFEDERATION; BRAZIL'S
SUPPORT FOR VENEZUELA'S ENTRY INTO MERCOSUR; US DEPUTY ASSISTANT
SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN NEGROPONTE TO PAKISTAN; LATIN AMERICAN


SIPDIS
MILITARY REARMAMENT; 11/19/07

1. SUMMARY STATEMENT

Weekend papers carry opinion pieces on an idea to create a
Venezuelan-Cuban Confederation as a result of an amendment to the
current Venezuelan constitution; Brazil's support for Venezuela's
entry into Mercosur; implications of DAS John Negroponte's trip to
Pakistan; and the military rearmament in Latin America.

2. OPINION PIECES AND EDITORIALS

- "Venezuelan-Cuban Confederation"

Daily-of-record "La Nacion" carries an op-ed piece by Emilio J.
Cardenas, former Argentine Ambassador to the UN, who opines (11/19)
"The decree submitted to the National Election Committee (which will
pass an amendment to the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of
Venezuela) included a surprising last-minute amendment to Section
153 of the current Constitution which is directly related to the
sensitive issue of sovereignty and seems to be aimed at making up a
Confederation between Venezuela and Cuba. The proposal will now be
submitted to popular referendum in early December.

"... The wording of the noted section was surreptiously adopted...
although it paves the way for huge geopolitical decisions in the
region. The Bolivarian 'bloc' is already acting in a concerted way
on foreign policy issues, as shown by the joint action between
Nicaragua and Venezuela in the Ibero-American Summit recently held
in Santiago de Chile...

"... Some observers of the Venezuelan reality believe that the
underlying idea is merge Cuba with Venezuela in a new confederation
that will be open to the participation of other States, along the
lines of the political union that Egypt and Syria attempted in the
Middle East.

"... In spite of the surprise triggered by this, the truth is that
there were some previous 'signs.' Hugo Chavez himself had used the
word 'confederation' many times referring to the 'merging of both
governments' during his October 12 trip to Cuba...

"A few days before, Cuban FM Felipe Perez Roque had asserted that
his country is willing to cede its sovereignty and its flag to
become part of a "greater motherland" that can guarantee the
survival of the Communist regime on the island when Fidel Castro
passes away. However, neither Raul Castro nor the military seem to
be too excited with the idea of having to obey Hugo Chavez's
omnipotent orders.

"All of sudden, a new political alternative seems to be appearing on
the horizon for our region. Organizing this perhaps will not be as
easy as Chavez may think. Nonetheless, what is clear enough is that
its political consequences could well spread beyond the Caribbean."

- "Brazil redoubles its support for Chavez and wants Venezuela's
entry into Mercosur"

Eleonora Gosman, Sao Paulo-based correspondent for leading "Clarin,"
writes (11/17) "The Brazilian Government supported Venezuela. FM
Celso Amorim defended Venezuela's entry into Mercosur shortly after
President Lula da Silva said that democracy reigns in Venezuela. The
Brazilian FM believes that having Hugo Chavez inside is 'a priority
for regional integration.' He stressed that if one wants South
America to be at peace 'economic integration should be reinforced.'
Itamaraty sources opined that Venezuela's entry into Mercosur will
be the guarantee to keep Venezuela 'far from Iran.'

"Amorim admitted that Brazil must pay 'a political price' for its
position. Nevertheless, he emphasized that their support for Caracas
is a small price compared to attempting to 'isolate' the Chavist
government.

"... FM Amorim acknowledged that one of the costs to Mercosur could
be more difficulty negotiating free trade deals with the US and the
EU in the future. But this remains to be seen because, among other
things, Chavez is believed to have established strong contacts with
those who could win the 2008 US elections, that is, Democratic
candidates. Regarding Europeans, there could be an increasing
malaise at the possibility that they would have to negotiate with a
five-country Mercosur that could include Venezuela."

- "The Pakistani dictator does not cede to the pressure of Bush's
envoy"

Maria Laura Avignolo, on special assignment in Islamabad for leading
"Clarin," writes (11/18) "Pakistani President General Pervez

Musharraf refused to lift the state of emergency as a response to
the US Ambassador and number two at the Department of State, John
Negroponte, 'until security is reestablished.' In a new step towards
unpredictability in the Pakistani crisis, he closed two other TV
channels and set up a 15,000-man military operation in Swat, where
he faces a Taliban rebellion, with an army that does not want to
fight and much less kill other Pakistanis.

"... Negroponte's idea of reconciliation between Benazir and
Musharraf quickly became a vain illusion...

"During an interview with the BBC, Musharraf called Benazir 'the
West's darling.' After that, he conveyed a disconcerting message to
the US - the risk that 'in a deeply disturbed climate,' Pakistani
nuclear weapons 'could fall in the wrong hands.'

"... Negroponte's mission is now sensitive and loaded with diplomacy
in view of a furious Musharraf and opponents that threaten to join
to overthrow him... Washington is beginning to reflect on elections
and its "risks" as well as a transition government they believe
could only last a few weeks."

- "Military rearmament in Southern Cone countries"

Leading "Clarin" editorializes (11/17) "Brazil has considerably
increased its military budget..., which is in addition to
Venezuela's increased armaments purchases. All this is happening in
the context of a tendency among South American countries to reassess
their defense infrastructure.

"The Lula administration's draft bill sets a military investment of
2.585 billion dollars in 2008 vis-`-vis 1.1 billion in 2007...
Obviously enough, countries need to overhaul their armed forces...
However, this should not mean a return to regional competition,
balanced threats and the armed forces' interference in governments'
political decisions.

"On the other hand, regional integration implies bigger integration
between the armed forces in a framework of mutual confidence,
balanced development of potentialities and participation in

peace-keeping missions."

To see more Buenos Aires reporting, visit our
classified website at:
http://www.state.sqov.gov/p/wha/buenosaires

WAYNE

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