Cablegate: Brazil: (Kind of) Making the World Safe For

DE RUEHBR #0057/01 0091724
R 091724Z JAN 08





E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/07/2018

REF: STATE 169367


1. (C) Summary: For the world's fourth largest democracy,
the promotion of democracy abroad remains an important, if
secondary goal of Brazil's foreign policy, but its focus and
execution has been only loosely defined under the Lula
government, limiting potential efforts to forge bilateral
initiatives with Brazil to non-controversial projects
targeted at countries not deemed strategic by either Brasilia
or Washington. While Lula and his senior officials liberally
pepper their speeches with references to the importance of
promoting democratic norms and institutions, practice reveals
a mixed picture--one where the current set of senior
policymaker's leftist ideological leanings and skepticism of
U.S. intentions, together with Brazil's history and
self-image as a non-interventionist country, exercise a
strong influence and impede explicit democracy-promotion
initiatives. Although the GoB's rhetoric and some of its
initiatives do leave the door open to spur further engagement
on Brazil's part, the possibilities for robust policies under
the Lula government will remain low as long as
"non-interventionist, but non-indifferent" defines the GoB's
views on promoting democracy abroad. End summary.

Brazil's View of Democracy is Malleable...

2. (C) Conversations with foreign policy analysts, members of
the Brazilian Congress, and working level contacts at
Ministry of Foreign Relations (Itamaraty) Human Rights
Division, which handles democracy promotion, reveal an often
repeated theme that, before the return of democratic rule in
Brazil almost 20 years ago, the GOB had no articulated policy
of international democracy promotion. Even after the return
of democracy, Brazilian governments have placed a heavier
emphasis, at the international level, on human rights,
development, and trade issues. The situation changed with
the advent of democracy in both Argentina and Brazil in the
1980s and with the creation of Mercosul. Together, these
developments became the most important factors in reducing
the historic rivalry between the two neighbors.

3. (C) Professor Maria Helena de Castro Santos, who studies
democratic consolidation in the Americas at the International
Relations Department of the University of Brasilia, told
poloff that the importance of democracy in changing the
dynamic between Brazil and Argentina was not translated
within Itamaraty into a specific theoretical framework on
democracy promotion. Instead, as seen through numerous
statements made by President Lula and Foreign Minister Celso
Amorim, almost any foreign policy initiative can be placed
into the democracy promotion box. For example, Lula and
Amorim have claimed infrastructure projects in Latin America,
development initiatives in Africa, promotion of human rights
at the United Nations, production and export of biofuels,
strengthening the multilateral system and reforming of the
United Nations Security Council, creation of the Mercosul
parliament, opening agricultural markets in developed
countries, support for global efforts to fight hunger and
disease, and its role in international peacekeeping missions
are all bulwarks of its democracy promotion policy. These
can all be classified as such because, in their own words,
democracy can only be achieved through an educated, healthy,
hunger-free populace that enjoys peace.

4. (C) On the other hand, a mantra heard often in meetings
with Itamaraty officials, and repeated in public speeches by
senior Brazilian officials is the view that democracy is a
means to other ends: namely, social justice, peace, and
development. That formulation allows Brazil to defend what
Foreign Relations and National Defense Committee member
Federal Deputy Raul Jungmann (PPS, Socialist People's Party,
opposition; of Pernambuco) described to poloff as
"democraduras," such as Venezuela--countries that Brazilian
officials believe are achieving those things even if through

BRASILIA 00000057 002 OF 004

illiberal means.

--------------------------------------------- ------
...But Cautious and Multilateralist Above All Else
--------------------------------------------- ------

5. (C) Officials at Itamaraty often offer grudging support
for democracy-promotion initiatives not-funneled through
well-established international institutions. For example,
Carlos Eduardo da Cunha Oliveira of Itamaraty's Human Rights
Division repeated an often-heard Itamaraty line when he told
poloff that Brazil prefers to work through existing
international institutions and pour its energies into
strengthening organizations that already exist, rather than
engage in new ones such as Community of Democracies or the
Partnership for Democratic Governance. Although Brazil
decided to participate in both of these organizations, some
at Itamaraty, including Oliveira, remain skeptical about
their legitimacy and chances for long-term success, as they
are seen as exclusionary organizations that are not founded
on the premise of universalism. As an example, despite
Brazil's involvement in the East Timor peacekeeping mission
and the assistance it has given through Itamaraty's
development arm, the Brazilian Cooperation Agency (ABC),
Brazil was reluctant to engage in the East Timorese request
for democracy capacity building as channeled through the
Community of Democracies. In a conversation with poloff,
Christiane Almeida, a foreign policy advisor in the Brazilian
Chamber of Deputies, characterized Brazil's role in East
Timor as "typically timid" and coming "just late enough to
avoid facing hard choices." During the November, 2007
Community of Democracies ministerial meeting in Bamako, Mali,
contacts at the Human Rights Division told poloffs proudly
that the Brazilian delegation worked to soften any language
that was critical of democratic norms in particular
countries. One of the few exceptions to Brazil's
multilateralist, hands-off approach has been the trilateral
parliamentary capacity building initiative Brazil agreed to
participate in with the United States in Guinea-Bissau signed
through a Memorandum of Understanding in March 2007.
Discreet, uncontroversial, requested by the government, and
in a Lusophone country, it offered Brazil a project with
little potential downside that also put it, at least in
theory, on an equal footing with the US as a donor.

--------------------------------------------- --------
From Views to Policy: Speak Softly and Carry a Carrot
--------------------------------------------- ---------

7. (C) One of the most salient aspects of Brazil's democracy
promotion activities under the Lula government is their focus
on initiatives that can be funneled through diverse
organizations that highlight what Professor Alcides Costa
Vaz, Deputy Director of the International Relations
Department of the University of Brasilia described to poloff
as Brazil's distinct and independent global reach. President
Lula, Foreign Minister Celso Amorim, and presidential foreign
affairs advisor Marco Aurelio Garcia have all characterized
Brazil's approach to such activities as falling somewhere
between "non-intervention" and "non-indifference". Many of
these initiatives are performed outside of region-specific
frameworks, and are performed in conjunction with a diverse
set of partners such as the Community of Portuguese Speaking
Countries (CPLP) or through the IBSA (India-Brazil-South
Africa) fund.

8. (U) Most of the initiatives, proudly cited by Lula as
helping to build democratic institutions across the globe,
include the distribution of generic medicines, anti-HIV/AIDS
projects, training of health care workers, literacy programs,
establishment of vocational training centers, in almost every
Lusophone African country; debt forgiveness in Mozambique;
election monitoring through the CPLP in Sao Tome and Principe
and Guinea-Bissau; and providing logistics and human
resources for peacekeeping missions in Angola, East Timor,
and Haiti.

Venezuela: A Long Way from Ushuaia

BRASILIA 00000057 003 OF 004


9. (C) A concern for many Brazilian analysts and legislators
is whether the Lula administration would be willing to employ
sticks instead of limiting itself to carrots if faced with
the prospect of a Mercosul partner--namely,
Venezuela--suffering from a crisis to its democratic system.
In a meeting with poloff, Elir Cananea Silva, Legislative
Consultant on International Law for the Brazilian Chamber of
Deputies, noted one instance in which Brazil has in the past
effectively used the tools of statecraft to promote democracy
abroad, during the 1996 attempted coup in Paraguay against
President Juan Carlos Wasmosy. At the time, Brazil acted in
concert with Mercosul partners Argentina and Uruguay and
jointly issued statements condemning actions against the
democratic order in Paraguay. Subsequently, the Mercosul
countries agreed on the Ushuaia Protocol of 1998, which
institutionalized Mercosul's previously vague democracy
clause and laid out specific actions the members would
undertake in the case that that one suffered from a similar
situation to Paraguay's. Among other things, the Protocol
allows the member states to suspend the rights of another
member or associate state (currently Chile and Bolivia) if
its democratic institutions are under threat.

10. (C) The analysts and officials with whom poloff talked
all agreed it was difficult to imagine a repeat of the
Paraguayan case with regard to Venezuela, at least under the
Lula administration. The decision to back entry of Venezuela
into Mercosul is a political one taken in the interest of
regional stability, in the hope that bringing President
Chavez's government into a Brazil-dominated forum will help
control Venezuela's destabilizing effect in the region.
Therefore, despite the rising discontent evident in the
Brazilian media and congress with some of Chavez'
anti-democratic measures and over his frequent derogatory
comments about the Brazilian Congress, Itamaraty and Lula
continue to throw their full weight behind guaranteeing
Venezuela's entry into Mercosul and are showing little
concern, either in public or in private discussions, with the
continuing erosion of democracy within that country.
Publicly, President Lula and other senior officials deny such
erosion is even occurring and occasionally go out of their
way to burnish Chavez's democratic credentials to Brazilian
media outlets. Prior to the December 2 referendum on
amending the Venezuelan constitution, Lula vigorously
defended Chavez, stating that he could be criticized for a
lot of things, but not for a lack of democracy.


11. (C) Brazil's engagement in various democracy-promotion
initiatives is not a strategic objective of Brazil's foreign
policy. GOB participation in the various international
democracy building organizations, its work through CPLP and
IBSA, and its own development agenda is primarily driven by
its strategic goal of projecting Brazil internationally as an
independent global player, with support for democracy a
secondary goal. Likewise the GoB bills many of its foreign
policy priorities, such as in its defense of developing
country's prerogatives on Doha or its desire to become a
permanent member of the UNSC, as democracy-building
initiatives, even when they are primarily driven by Brazil's
larger objective of increasing its economic and political
influence on the global stage When democracy-promotion
features more explicitly as a goal behind Brazil,s
international initiatives these tend towards the softer end
of the policy spectrum, focusing on non-controversial
development, education, and health projects. These projects
constitute the underpinnings of their pro-democracy rhetoric
and highlight Brazil's growing role as donor country in these
primarily development-oriented areas. In addition to
supporting Brazil's projection of its soft-power, they also
serve to reduce pressure on the GoB to deal with the
thorniest issues related to democracy promotion, such as
pronouncing judgment with regard to particular countries on
the level of press and religious freedom or dealing with

BRASILIA 00000057 004 OF 004

corruption--which also risk highlighting Brazil's poor
internal record in this last area.

12. (C) Comment, cont: As a result, the potential for us to
engage with Brazil on concrete democracy-promotion
initiatives (as opposed to development, health or education
projects that have a positive, but indirect, effect on
democratic institutions in a given country) will remain
limited by the priority the GoB place on other goals. For
example, being perceived as the junior partner to the US on a
trilateral project could upset its goal of projecting its
equal footing as a global power; defending democracy in
Venezuela would hinder its strategic goals of maintaining
regional stability and expanding and consolidating regional
integration. It is therefore unlikely that Brazil will step
up to the plate to promote democracy when and where its
efforts could matter the most. Nonetheless, even if the GoB
clearly has not formulated a coherent and consistent
democracy promotion policy, both Lula and Amorim talk a good
game by including democracy promotion among Brazil's most
important foreign policy goals. This can serve as a basis
for encouraging Brazilian officials to remain consistent with
their own avowed goal by assisting burgeoning and threatened
democracies in tangible ways, and by speaking out in favor of
democracy where it does not yet exist.


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