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Cablegate: Codel Nelson Visit to Brasilia and Belem

VZCZCXRO7684
RR RUEHRG
DE RUEHBR #0113/01 0221150
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 221150Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY BRASILIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0898
INFO RUEHSO/AMCONSUL SAO PAULO 1498
RUEHRI/AMCONSUL RIO DE JANEIRO 5711
RUEHRG/AMCONSUL RECIFE 7623

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BRASILIA 000113

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR WHA/BSC, H

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OVIP SENV KGHG EAGR TRGY BR
SUBJECT: CODEL NELSON VISIT TO BRASILIA AND BELEM

REF: 07 Brasilia 2132

1. (U) THIS CABLE IS SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED AND NOT FOR
INTERNET DISTRIBUTION.

2. (SBU) SUMMARY. Senator Bill Nelson visited Brazil November
27-30, 2007, focusing primarily on environmental issues, biofuels,
and national security matters. He met with key Brazilians in the
national government and the State of Para, from environmental
non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and think-tanks, as well as
leaders in the Brazilian Senate and the Minister of Defense and
armed services. These meetings were uniformly informative and
cordial. END SUMMARY.

3. (SBU) Senator Bill Nelson came to Brazil November 27-30 with a
focus on the environment (climate change and deforestation),
biofuels and national security. Senator Nelson was accompanied by
his staff, the Embassy Environment, Science and Technology
Counselor, and - in Belem - the U.S. Consular Agent. His November
27 meetings with Ministry of Exterior Relations Under Secretary
Everton Vargas, Minister of Defense Nelson Jobim and senior military
leaders regarding national security and foreign relations are
reported in septels. During his visit to Brasilia, the Senator met
with Florida residents at the Embassy.

BRASILIA MEETINGS - NOVEMBER 27

4. (SBU) Senator Nelson met with Minister of Science and Technology
Sergio Rezende to discuss science and technology concerning
biofuels. Rezende said that Brazil is actively conducting research
on biofuels. He pointed to the state-controlled energy company
Petrobras, which plays an important role in the biofuels area and
has now built a pilot plant in Rio de Janeiro to test methods for
producing ethanol using the dried fibers from sugar cane residue.
He explained that Brazil has a network of seven universities working
on biofuels from sugar cane. Nonetheless, Rezende opined, Brazil
was not ahead of the United States in biofuels research and
development and had only about 150 scientists compared to the many
more scientists working at U.S. laboratories. Rezende commented
that the United States and Brazil are still at the very beginning of
their biofuels cooperative relationship. In response to the
Senator's inquiry, the Minister said he would be interested in
cooperating with Florida and Florida universities on biofuels
research.

5. (SBU) Rezende continued that Brazil uses satellites to detect
deforestation. He said he didn't foresee the expected increase in
sugar cane production to push cattle into the Amazon, given that
only 6-7 million hectares are used for sugar cane now and by 2015
would only go up to 15-20 million. He commented that Brazil had 100
million hectares available. In addition, he said that EMBRAPA, the
national agriculture research agency, is developing a new, more
productive type of sugar cane called "energy sugar cane" for
producing ethanol using genetic engineering. Over time, Rezende
said, the cost of producing ethanol from cane has decreased by 10
times.

6. (SBU) Senator Joao Evangelista Tenorio (Brazilian Social
Democracy Party, opposition; of Alagoas), Chairman of the Senate
Biofuels Subcommittee, extolled the use of bagasse, which is the
residue left from the sugar cane after processing, to generate
electricity. Tenorio displayed disappointment at the slow pace of
development of cellulosic ethanol. He expressed concern that there
might not be enough bagasse both to generate energy and to provide
sufficient feedstock for cellulosic biofuels. Tenorio told the
Senator that Brazil is looking at the possibility of constructing an
ethanol pipeline that could withstand the corrosive effects of
ethanol to bring biofuels to the cities. Turning to the recently
announced discovery of oil and gas off-shore in the Tupi field,
Tenorio commented that Brazil doesn't yet have the technology to
extract it.

7. (SBU) Senator Heraclito Fortes (Democrats Party, opposition; of
Piaui), the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
and National Defense, expressed concern to the Senator about the
impact of corruption and illegal money in the region. He said that
Iran and Russia were supporting Venezuela in efforts to keep the
United States out of Latin America (Note: Reftel reported Fortes's
views in greater detail expressed in other meetings.). He saw
Venezuela, Bolivia, and Nicaragua as challenges facing the United
States and Brazil. Fortes said he thought the Brazilian armed
forces were underfunded.

8. (SBU) UNICA (Sao Paulo sugar cane industry association) Vice
President Alfred Szwarc briefed the Senator on the high productivity
and low cost of sugar cane as a feedstock for ethanol. Further,
Brazil uses the sugar cane bagasse to fuel the ethanol plants and

BRASILIA 00000113 002 OF 002


provide electricity to the public grid. Sugar cane is grown
principally in the Center-South region, outside of the Amazon
rainforest. Szwarc said that Brazil has extensive know-how in
producing and distributing ethanol.

9. (SBU) Representatives of The Nature Conservancy-TNC (Ana
Christina Barros), the Amazon Conservation Team-ACT (Vasco van
Roosmalen), and the Jaguar Conservation Fund (Leandro Silveira and
Anah Jacomo) informed the Senator about their programs and
activities. TNC Brazil Director Barros described the Responsible
Soy program whereby soy farmers working in the Amazon region would
be certified for complying with environmental laws, which in turn
would increase market access for them. She was positive overall
about the Brazilian government's efforts to increase compliance with
environmental laws and to reduce the rate of Amazon deforestation.
ACT Brazil Director Van Roosmalen explained that they were assisting
indigenous communities to protect and manage forest resources. With
about 20 percent of the Amazon in their hands, the indigenous
communities are critical to protecting the forest. Van Roosmalen
was skeptical of the help the government was providing to the
indigenous communities and of its efforts to slow the illegal
destruction of the forest. The Jaguar Conservation Fund
representatives described a successful program to persuade ranchers
to not kill jaguars in return for social programs for their ranches
and compensation in cases where a jaguar kills a rancher's steer.

BELEM MEETINGS - NOVEMBER 28 AND 29

10. (SBU) After flying to Belem, which is the capital of the State
of Para, Senator Nelson met with the Para State Vice Governor Odair
Correa. The Vice Governor said that Para, which holds a large
portion of the Amazon forest and water resources, wants to work in
partnerships to preserve biodiversity and reduce deforestation. He
pointed to the collaborative work with ALCOA, which was constructing
a bauxite plant in the state. Correa added, "We don't want to
internationalize the Amazon forest, jut want partnerships to help us
manage it." Correa replied to the Senator's inquiry about changing
farmers' attitudes that the government has to raise awareness among
farmers about the value of an intact forest to prevent them from
clearing it.

11. (SBU) The Senator met with experts on deforestation and forest
management from the Goeldi Museum (Director Ima Vieira), a
government museum and research institution, Imazon (Director Carlos
Souza), an NGO that monitors deforestation, the Institute for Amazon
Research-IPAM (Senior Scientist Tobey McGrath), State of Para
Secretary of Environment Valmir Ortega, and the Tropical Forest

SIPDIS
Institute-TFI (Director Johan Zweede). The Senator saw and learned
of the vast plant and animal biodiversity in the Amazon at the
Goeldi Museum and at Combu Island. Highlights of their
presentations included:

- the Brazilian government is launching a new system of forest
concessions to improve management and use of these lands, however it
lacks sufficient numbers of trained foresters to oversee the
sustainable use of these concessions;
- the Brazilian government has stopped subsidizing pasture land,
which had promoted clearing of land for ranching;
- most of the deforestation has occurred around the roads
constructed through the Amazon during the 1970's;
- registering land titles is critical to slowing deforestation and
the government has a long way to go; and
- small farmers/ranchers/loggers driven by economic factors are
primarily responsible for the deforestation.

(Note: Just prior to the Senator's visit to Belem, United Nations
Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon had visited Belem - including the

SIPDIS
Goeldi Museum and Combu Island - and met with many of the same
experts that the Senator did. End Note.)

12. (SBU) Agropalma is the largest producer of biodiesel from palm
oil in Brazil. The Senator visited its facility outside of Belem.
The Amazon region, which straddles the equator, is the best region
for growing African palms, which are ten times as productive as soy.
Agropalma's started producing biodiesel in 2005 and demand is
taking off, especially with the requirement in 2008 to include two
percent biodiesel in diesel. Agropalma has 34,000 hectares of palm
oil plantations and plans to double that in the near future. The
facility uses residues to generate electricity.

SOBEL

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