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Cablegate: Argentina: Mendoza Governor Seeks Closer U.S. Ties

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RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBU #0152/01 0391752
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 081752Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0212
INFO RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 1026
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 6698
RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 6802
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ FEB LIMA 2236
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RHMCSUU/FBI WASHINGTON DC
RUEABND/DEA HQS WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL

UNCLAS BUENOS AIRES 000152

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KJUS SNAR PHUM ASEC KPAO MASS AR
SUBJECT: ARGENTINA: MENDOZA GOVERNOR SEEKS CLOSER U.S. TIES

1. (U) Summary: Mendoza Governor Celso Jaque called on the
Ambassador February 6, seeking increased contact and opportunities
for cooperation with the Embassy and U.S. agencies on such issues as
public security, counternarcotics, and public administration.
Public security is a top concern for Mendocinos, and Jaque says he
is committed to training and equipping provincial security agencies
to meet the challenge. Ambassador assured Jaque of the Embassy's
interest in supporting Jaque's efforts where possible and suggested
possible opportunities for law enforcement training through LegAtt,
the RSO, and DEA. Jaque said he wanted to improve public
administration in Mendoza, establishing a new school of public
administration, and has asked former Mendoza Governors to
participate in the school and to form an Advisory Council on public
policy. Ambassador said the Embassy would be glad to work with the
Governor and his staff to explore ways in which the Embassy can
help. End Summary.

2. (U) Mendoza Governor Celso Jaque and his Security Minister Carlos
Aguinaga called on Ambassador February 6, to discuss increasing
contact and cooperation with the Embassy in a number of areas.
Jaque, a Peronist (PJ) politician, was recently elected Governor
(October 2007) with the Kirchners' political support. Prior to
that, he was a national Senator for Mendoza, elected in 2003.

Public Security a Priority
--------------------------

3. (U) Jaque stated that public security remains a serious concern
in Mendoza. He pointed to a combination of drug abuse, social
exclusion (poverty), and availability of illegal arms as the primary
cause. He explained that he had created a new position, a
Subsecretary for Security and appointed a retired provincial police
chief, to be responsible for the daily administration of the
provincial police. Jaque explained that there had been too much
"political" management of the police and not enough professional
management. He noted for instance that the provincial police's
communication equipment was not compatible with that of federal law
enforcement agencies. A contract to implement a GPS program,
designed to track and coordinate mobile unit activities, was a
disaster.

4. (U) Mendoza's vineyards and adventure tourism draw tourists from
around the world, and Jaque said he wanted to make sure Mendoza
remained a safe and attractive destination for this valuable trade,
and that he was working with the major vineyards and local security
forces on this issue. (Ambassador had pointed out a brazen robbery
on a Mendoza winery hotel in which U.S. citizens were harmed.)

Looking for Professional Training
---------------------------------

5. (U) The Governor explained that he would like to reform the
training for provincial security forces. New officers receive
general training but no specialized training in investigative
techniques and other specific areas. LegAtt described a number of
possible options for providing training to provincial police and
prosecutors. He explained that the FBI conducts regular management
courses to which foreign law enforcement students are invited, and
that his office had coordinated training for prosecutors and judges
in other provinces. Ambassador said that there were also training
options available through Lima ILEA, and noted that the RSO was
currently identifying Argentine law enforcement officials to
participate in a one-week street security course in Peru.

Counternarcotics Cooperation
----------------------------

6. (U) In response to a question, Jaque stated that cocaine and
marijuana use was not a major problem in Mendoza, nor did they see
evidence of major trafficking rings, but that he was concerned about
juvenile abuse of inhalants. Nevertheless, he said that he was
concerned about the province's inability to monitor/inspect the
significant semi-trailer traffic transiting the province to and from
its international border crossings with Chile. He noted previous
cooperation with the Embassy's DEA Country Office and said he would
like to strengthen that cooperation. Jaque said he would welcome
DEA's presence in Mendoza.
Ambassador noted that the Embassy's DEA Country Office had had a
staffing gap for some time but was expecting the imminent arrival of
a new Special Agent, who would have specific responsibility for
Mendoza. Ambassador said that he would ask DEA to make sure the new
Agent established communications with Mendoza authorities as soon as
possible.

7. (SBU) Note: The new Governor minimized drug trafficking activity
in Mendoza, perhaps out of ignorance. Historically (dating back to
at least CY-2000), in joint investigations with DEA Buenos Aires
Country Office, the Mendoza Provincial police have regularly
arrested significant Colombian and Argentine traffickers residing in
that area. Those organizations dealt with both multi-kilogram
quantities of cocaine as well as heroin, sending their narcotics to
Europe and/or the U.S. With the arrival of another DEA Special
Agent next week, we can re-engage with provincial authorities and
take the Governor up on his offer of increased cooperation on the
counternarcotics front. End Note.

Demand Reduction, Treatment, and Detention Facilities
--------------------------------------------- --------

8. (U) Jaque explained that Mendoza's demand reduction
programs/efforts had been under-funded and under-emphasized,
something he hoped to reverse. He noted that there were no
provincial drug treatment centers, only a couple of federally-run
facilities that he described as "collapsed." The Governor said he
wanted to open four provincial drug and alcohol rehabilitation
facilities.

9. (U) In 2006 and February 2007, the Argentine Supreme Court
instructed the national and Mendoza provincial governments to report
concrete measures taken to improve prison conditions that would
address several rulings by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights
on the issue. Jaque said that one of the provincial prisons is
temporarily under management by federal authorities. Jaque related
that he had just met with the federal Minister of Justice and
Security Anibal Fernandez and had requested that Fernandez continue
the federal intervention for an additional eight months, to which he
said Fernandez agreed. Jaque explained that the extension was
required to ensure that reforms called for by the Supreme Court are
implemented. He also said that the federal government was also
going to build two new federal detention centers in Mendoza, but
that the province would manage them. He said it was also a priority
of his to build four new provincial jails - designed for a maximum
of 50 detainees - with the focus being on social reinsertion, i.e.,
providing young detainees, in particular, with necessary job and
life skills.

Civil Defense Needs
-------------------

10. (U) The Governor explained that Mendoza has passed a public
security emergency law that allows the Governor to reallocate budget
funds for expenditures related to public security, cutting some of
the bureaucratic hurdles (but not decreasing transparency, he
stressed). The "emergency" declaration is for one year. Governor
Jaque explained that he would like to purchase -- or obtain gratis
-- used civil defense items such as fire trucks and helicopters for
the provincial security and civil defense forces. Ambassador said
the Embassy would be glad to look into possible avenues that Mendoza
could pursue. He also noted that contacts through sister city
arrangements or through such organizations as the Rotary Club often
can identify such used and excess equipment. (Note: Embassy's
Military Group is investigating the possibility of obtaining
equipment under the Humanitarian Assistance Program. End Note.)

Focus on Public Administration
------------------------------

11. (U) Finally, Jaque stressed the need for, and his focus on,
improved public administration. He has asked former Mendoza
governors -- Rodolfo Gabrielli, Arturo Lafalla, Argentine former
Ambassador to the U.S. Jose Octavio Bordon, Roberto Iglesias, and
Vice President of Argentina Julio Cobos -- to participate in an
Advisory Council that will advise the Governor on strategic
provincial issues and public policies. He has also created a School
of Public Administration and has asked the former Governors to
participate in this endeavor. Jaque said they would like to bring
experts from the United States to give lectures and would like to
promote visits and interchanges. Ambassador replied that the
Embassy was very interested in this type of cooperation and outreach
and would work with the Governor's office to explore ways in which
to support his efforts.
WAYNE

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