Cablegate: Media Reaction; Annapolis Conference; Venezuelan
DE RUEHBU #2265/01 3330747
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 290747Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9789
INFO RHMFISS/CDR USSOCOM MACDILL AFB FL//SCJ2//
UNCLAS BUENOS AIRES 002265
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
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION; ANNAPOLIS CONFERENCE; VENEZUELAN
REFERENDUM; WAR ON DRUGS; 11/27/07
1. SUMMARY STATEMENT
Today's key international stories deal with expectations for the
Middle East Peace conference in Annapolis; the Venezuelan referendum
on the country's constitutional amendment; and a critical view on
the war on drugs.
2. OPINION PIECES AND EDITORIALS
- "Chavez falling from favor"
Paul Scheltus, on special assignment in Caracas for liberal,
English-language "Buenos Aires Herald," writes (11/27) "... If
approved, the new constitution would turn (Venezuela) into a
centralized socialist state and allow the president to be re-elected
indefinitely. That's causing considerable unease, even with those
loyal to the former paratrooper.
"The opposition - a lackluster bunch of little consequence in recent
years - seems finally to have found a message that resonates with a
large part of the electorate. The 'no' vote is gaining ground,
thanks mainly to the leading role played by students. Opinion polls
quoted by opposition media put those that reject the changes at
around 45 percent and those in favor at between 30 and 40 percent.
The government pollsters still insist that 'yes' will beat 'no' by
58 to 42 percent. Abstention here is a major threat for the
"Fair enough, but past experience should have taught those opposed
to Chavez that ignoring him is a dead-end road."
- "Skepticism over a Middle East peace summit"
Ana Baron, Washington-based correspondent for leading "Clarin,"
comments (11/27) "On the eve of the Middle East Peace conference
that will be held in Annapolis today, US President George W. Bush,
Israeli PM Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas
showed optimistic. However, last night, Palestinian negotiator Ahmad
Qorei and Israeli FM Tzipi Livni had not reached a deal on a final
communiqu and skepticism prevailed among the experts consulted by
"Phyllis Bennis, author of 'Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli
conflict,' who works for the Institute for Political Studies, a
progressive NGO, said: 'The real objective of the Annapolis
conference is not doing justice with the Palestinian claims or
preserving Israel's security. What the Bush administration wants is
the support from Arab countries to isolate Iran while improving the
US image in the region after Condoleezza Rice supported and
encouraged Israel's attack against Lebanon.'
"On the other extreme of the political spectrum, former US
ambassador to the UN, neo-conservative John Bolton agreed: 'The
conference has been organized to improve the legacy of the Bush
administration.' Everything indicates that 'it is doomed to failure,
regardless of the standards you use to analyze the outcome.'
"... Nonetheless, some experts believe that even when a deal is
reached, it will hardly be implemented. Both Bush and Olmert and
Abbas have less than 30 percent of support. However, this is not
all. Hamas was not invited because the US Department of State
considers it a terrorist group. However, Fatah's moderates, led by
Abbas, only control the West Bank.
"In spite of the difficulties, Rice is convinced that at least some
progress will be made and that this will be enough to give new
momentum to the peace process. The truth is that if the conference
fails, the effort made could have an opposed effect. Fareed
Zakarias, author of 'The future of freedom,' said: 'These countries
will hardly agreed to attend again a conference like this one.'"
- "The summit will start today with some doubts"
Hugo Alconada Mon, Washington-based correspondent for
daily-of-record "La Nacion," comments (11/27) "Merged in a sea of
doubts about its outcome, the Middle East international summit will
start today in the port city of Annapolis... It has a very
complicated objective - come to terms on a permanent peace deal or
at least on an agenda that will lead to a permanent truce.
"The USG, and particularly US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice,
pleaded for months in favor of the summit although she stressed her
'moderate optimism' about what may happen in the next 48 hours in
order to keep reasonable expectations.
"... The arrival of a delegation from Syria, one of the most
visceral enemies of Israel, reinforced the serious nature of the
"However, the challenge is so huge that the communiqu containing a
tentative agenda was delayed due to the parties' confronting ideas.
"The chore of the dispute is how to make concrete the 'solution of
the two States' premise to honor the 'road map' that Israelis and
Palestinians agreed upon in 2003.
"However, this dispute has multiple fronts. Some of them include
where to delineate the borders of the Palestinian State, how to
solve the refugees problem, what the future of Jerusalem will be,
how to solve the remaining Israeli settlements and Israel's return
(or not) of the Golan Heights to Syria..."
- "Who wins the war on drugs"
Daily-of-record "La Nacion" carries an op-ed story by Juan Gabriel
Tokatlian, professor of International Relations at Universidad de
San Andres, who opines (11/27) "... If one reviews the drug
phenomenon from an organizational angle, the conclusion is alarming.
The strategies implemented to dismantle mafia conglomerates have
created more sophisticated, influential and virulent criminal
organizations. Transnational criminality is no longer an emerging
class but has become a dominant class in many cases. Some years ago,
the narco-trafficking issue was a criminological fact. Today, it is
a sociological issue...
"If one analyzes the militarization of the struggle against drugs
(the participation of Armed Forces in basically police tasks), the
result has been a failure. The effect of the military participation
in anti-drug actions impacted negatively on the relations between
civilians and the military, human rights and the degree of
corruption. The direct and active role played by the armed forces in
eradication, interdiction and chase did not imply a promising
advance towards eradicating or at least reducing the drug
"However, in this process, armed forces, as a corporation, have
become inclined to the 'war on drugs,' because they receive domestic
and foreign financial resources, gain domestic influence and US
"... World information reveals that banning drugs has been a
failure, although nothing seems to put a brake on the banning
"In Argentina there are many sectors that are eager to join the 'war
on drugs.'... What the country needs is to tackle and solve the
structural problems that allow the drug business to prosper and
expand. The role of the State in this regard is essential.
Meanwhile, the society should get more and better information on the
issue and attempt to create domestic and international coalitions
that will help to rethink the costly and unproductive ongoing
To see more Buenos Aires reporting, visit our
classified website at: