Cablegate: Ambassador Sobel Meets with Former Foreign Minister Lampreia
DE RUEHRI #0014/01 0161535
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 161535Z JAN 08
FM AMCONSUL RIO DE JANEIRO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4335
INFO RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 0698
RUEHSO/AMCONSUL SAO PAULO 5122
RUEHRG/AMCONSUL RECIFE 3400
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 RIO DE JANEIRO 000014
STATE FOR WHA/BSC
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/14/2018
TAGS: PREL PGOV ECON BR
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR SOBEL MEETS WITH FORMER FOREIGN MINISTER LAMPREIA
1. Classified by: PAO Erik Holm-Olsen for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).
2. (C) Summary: During a recent meeting at his Rio de Janeiro
residence, former Brazilian Minister of Foreign Affairs Luiz Felipe
Palmeira Lampreia spoke with Ambassador Sobel in a candid,
free-wheeling look at the current Brazilian government, prospects for
the next Brazilian president, and bilateral and regional issues. The
meeting came on the heels of an article published by Ambassador
Lampreia in the magazine American Interest, in which he analyzes the
US-Brazil relationship, and which provided the context for the meeting.
3.(C) Ambassador Luiz Felipe Palmeira Lampreia, Brazilian Minister of
Foreign Affairs from 1995-2001, welcomed Ambassador Sobel at his Rio de
Janeiro home on January 8. Lampreia, who was traveling to Portugal
that evening, is the former Brazilian Ambassador to that country.
Noting that Spain is Qtaking overQ Portugal economically, Lampreia
responded to a query about the role of Spanish firms in BrazilQs recent
auction of toll road concessions (and some American firmsQ allegations
of an un-level playing field), saying that while he does not know if
the Spanish government subsidized their bids, he was certain that they
must have received some kind of official assistance.
AMARAL NEXT FOREIGN MINISTER?
4.(C) After discussing the many boards on which Lampreia serves and
other business contacts, Lampreia admitted that he no longer holds any
interest in political office, noting that six years as Foreign Minister
were enough. He offered that Sergio Amaral would be the next
Foreign Minister, hopefully, should Jose Serra be elected president.
He remarked that at the moment, Serra is practically running alone.
5. (C) Turning to the current government, Lampreia deemed
Lula a conservative pragmatist, suggesting that his foreign policy
countervails the orthodoxy of his economic policies. This, Lampreia
felt, makes it possible for Lula to be friends both with President
Bush and Hugo Chavez.
PLAY IT COOL WITH CHAVEZ
6.(C) Lampreia opined that the United States Government has been
correct to Qplay it cool with Chavez, noting that he has neither the
means nor the political qualifications to serve as a major
destabilizing force in the region. Lampreia sees Chavez as an Andean
kind of player, a populist dictator with oil money, and not the kind
of person that holds popular sway in a place like Brazil.
7.(C) Regarding foreign policy, Lampreia confirmed that presidential
advisor Marco Aurelio Garcia is a close personal Lula friend, noting
that Qthis must be humiliatingQ for Foreign Minister Celso Amorim to
not be involved in FARC hostage release situation. Asked if a Doha
agreement might have been reached if Amorim had not been wearing both
political and trade hats simultaneously, Lampreia simply said that
QAmorim is a man of the left, implying that Amorim may not be
interested in such an agreement on ideological grounds.
LULA'S BALANCING ACT
8.(C) Lampreia suggested that BrazilQs South-South strategy for
increased global leadership is an effort by Lula to play to the
QmilitantsQ in the ruling PT. Lampreia reminded that most Brazilian
diplomats, Amorim included, are raised at the United Nations, where
U.S. bashing is common. This, according to Lampreia, provides the
context in which to understand AmorimQs positions. Lampreia mentioned
that during his time in government, he himself pursued the possibility
of a UNSC seat for Brazil but then gave up, saying that it was not
crucial to Brazil's national interest. Amorim, on the other hand, is
obsessed with the issue.
9.(C) Lampreia then told the Ambassador that Amorim QhatesQ Americans,
not necessarily in a personal way, but for ideological reasons. He
suggested that the Foreign Ministry is interested in pursuing a nuclear
program, but that it has nothing to do with the recent US-India deal.
Lampreia felt that this would be Qa crime against the Brazilian peopleQ
given the costs of such a program and other pressing needs such as
health, education and housing. He stated that there was clearly no
need for a deterrent against other countries in the region, and that
such a program could only be interpreted as a potential defense against
the United States.
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10.(C) Asked how the United States can help improve US-Brazil ties,
LampreiaQs response tracked somewhat with his recent article on this
subject in the American Interest magazine. He suggested that the
United States help raise BrazilQs profile in the world, but discreetly,
so as not to raise allegations that the United States is setting Brazil
up as some kind of surrogate on the continent. Lampreia mentioned the
importance of OECD membership, increased trade and investment, and a
negotiated tax treaty. He advised that U.S. training programs, be they
in law enforcement or other sensitive areas, also be carried out
quietly. Asked about potential U.S. support for a road to the Pacific
with Bolivia, Lampreia thought that a firm like Bechtel might find such
a project attractive. When then asked about the lack of American
construction firms in Brazil, Lampreia said that, like anywhere else,
construction in Brazil is a very protectionist field that is often
governed by nationalist feelings.
11.(C) Lampreia concluded by noting that while Brazilians very much
admire Americans, they do not necessarily want to be just like them.
What they do want, however, is to enjoy the same improvements in living
standards, and possibilities for social and economic mobility, that
12.(C) Comment: Lampreia is a keen observer of Brazilian politics,
and while he may no longer harbor political aspirations of his own, he
remains an excellent source of insight and analysis and is very well
respected. No friend of the current government (he referred to the
QwarQ that the PT waged during his time in government as a reason for
not wanting to re-enter the fray), he was also quick to give Lula
credit where it was due, and agreed that Presidents Bush and Lula enjoy
a sincere and close relationship, something that can only strengthen
the bilateral relationship despite any Foreign Ministry misgivings. End