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Cablegate: Parana Governor Requiao Takes On the Feds

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DE RUEHSO #0061/01 0441145
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R 131145Z FEB 08 ZDK
FM AMCONSUL SAO PAULO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7899
INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 3305
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 9051
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES 3057
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 0671
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ 3715
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO 2611
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 2308
RUEHRI/AMCONSUL RIO DE JANEIRO 8577
RUEHRG/AMCONSUL RECIFE 3995
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RUEHRC/USDA FAS WASHDC 0718
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC 3026
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 SAO PAULO 000061

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/BSC, INR/IAA, INR/B
STATE PASS USTR FOR KATE DUCKWORTH
NSC FOR TOMASULO
TREASURY FOR JHOEK
SOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD
USAID FOR LAC/AA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PINR KDEM BR
SUBJECT: PARANA GOVERNOR REQUIAO TAKES ON THE FEDS

REF: 07 SAO PAULO 879

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED - PLEASE PROTECT ACCORDINGLY

1. (SBU) Summary: A dispute between Parana State Governor Roberto
Requiao and federal prosecutors and judges has attracted widespread
media attention. Prosecutors accused the Governor of using the
state's public educational television channel as a vehicle to
promote his own political agenda and to disparage his opponents.
After a federal appeals judge ordered him to desist, Requiao
responded by having technicians mute the sound whenever he spoke and
flash CENSORED across his face in large red letters. When the judge
then fined him 50,000 Reals (about USD 28,500), Requiao declared
himself a "gagged Governor" and accused the courts of violating his
freedom of expression. In the course of the controversy, the
Governor temporarily pulled the offending program off the air and
publicly upbraided the state's Prosecutor General so vociferously
that she submitted her resignation. This latest imbroglio is but
one in a series of high-profile controversies involving the
mercurial and unpredictable Requiao. End Summary.

2. (U) Roberto Requiao of the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party
(PMDB) was elected Governor of Parana in 2002, a state of 10.3
million immediately south of Sao Paulo. He was re-elected in 2006
by the razor-thin margin of two tenths of one percent, or about
10,000 votes. During his time in office, he has undertaken a series
of populist measures - anti-globalization, anti-privatization,
anti-GMO - that have earned him both plaudits and harsh criticism.

3. (U) The latest case revolves around a weekly program called
"School of Government," which is carried by Educational Radio and
Television of Parana (RTVE), the government-funded public
broadcasting service. The program is designed as a forum for state
employees to share experiences and views on the challenges of public
administration and issues facing the government. Requiao has
appeared on the show frequently since taking office. Recently,
however, he has come to dominate the agenda with his increasingly
strident and personal tone. Live and unscripted, he freely
expresses his often unconstrained opinion of other politicians, the
media, and various government entities, including the judiciary.

4. (U) Federal prosecutors charged Requiao in December 2007 with
misuse of public resources for personal ends. A district court
found for the Governor, but Appeals Judge Edgar Lippmann of the
Regional Federal Tribunal found merit in the complaint. The judge
declined to pull the program from the airwaves as prosecutors had
requested, but he ordered Requiao to stop promoting his personal
agenda on the public airwaves. Never one to take criticism sitting
down, the Governor appeared on the show the following week but had
his voice muted and the word "CENSORED" flashed in large letters
across the screen, together with the judge's name, whenever he
spoke. Judge Lippmann, not amused, fined the Governor 50,000 Reals,
and on January 22, the Association of Federal Judges of Brazil
(Ajufe) ordered RTVE to broadcast, every fifteen minutes over a
24-hour period, its note of redress supporting the judge and
criticizing the Governor for making a mockery of judicial orders.
Requiao, outraged, ordered the station to close down rather than
comply. This was when he had his loud confrontation with state
Prosecutor-General Jozelia Nogueira Broliani, who was seeking a
compromise solution. Shortly after the scene, Broliani submitted
her resignation and gave press interviews explaining why.

5. (U) Requiao allowed the station back on the air the following
day, broadcasting both Ajufe's note and his own response to it. He
has cast the controversy in freedom of speech terms. Requiao claims
the media dislike him because he cut the state's advertising budget,
and that prosecutors and judges have it in for him because he has
criticized their high salaries. Some journalism associations have
supported the Governor, arguing that the appeals judge and Ajufe
went too far in trying to control the program's content. Even the

SAO PAULO 00000061 002 OF 003


Parana chapter of the Bar Association, while deploring Requiao's
treatment of the Prosecutor General, opined that Ajufe's insistence
on the repeated broadcast of its note in support of the judge was
disproportionate.

6. (U) Eduardo Guimaraes, a municipal official in the state
capital, Curitiba, and a long-time Requiao watcher, told Poloff that
everyone was in suspense to see what would happen on the next
episode of "School of Government," scheduled for Tuesday, January
29. It proved to be an anti-climax. Governor Requiao was on
official travel - ironically, to Cuba - and Lieutenant Governor
Orlando Pesutti took his place and delivered a non-controversial
presentation on public works. The Carnaval holiday offers the
Governor some time to decide whether he wants to escalate the
conflict or let it die.

7. (SBU) Consul General (CG) called on Governor Requiao in Curitiba
on January 14, in the midst of the controversy. The mercurial
Requiao, in good form, quipped that he might get even more political
benefit from judicial "censorship" than he is accused of getting
from misusing public television.

8. (SBU) Governor Requiao is no stranger to controversy and indeed
at times appears to welcome it. In 2003, for example, he banned the
cultivation and transportation of genetically modified organisms
(GMOs) within Parana state borders, essentially diverting large
quantities of soy and other agricultural products away from the Port
of Paranagua. (Note: The ban was a severe, if temporary, blow to
port commercial activity. The Governor's brother, Eduardo Requiao,
is the Superintendent of the Administration of the Ports of
Paranagua and Antonina. End Note.) The GMO ban was challenged in
court and was eventually overturned by the Superior Federal Tribunal
(STF). However, the effort made Requico a hero to anti-GMO
activists and garnered a great deal of attention, while earning him
the enmity of state agricultural and business interests. Per
reftel, Requiao has expressed a desire to drive Switzerland-based
GMO producer Syngenta Seeds out of the state, and recently blamed
the company for a violent confrontation between Landless Movement
(MST) militants and private security guards in the company's employ
that left two people dead.

9. (U) In August 2006, ConGen Sao Paulo was briefly involved in a
contretemps with Requiao when portions of then-CG's remarks at the
signing of an agreement between U.S. Department of Commerce and
Paranagua Port were incorporated out of context in the Governor's
televised campaign advertisements. Post was obliged to issue a
clarification and insist that the Governor remove the remarks from
the campaign ads.

10. (SBU) In anotehr episode, the Governor refused to allow
concessionaires to raise the tolls on state highways, even though
the increases were provided for under the companies' contracts with
the state. The previous administration had privatized a number of
state roads, but Requiao, who opposes privatization on principle,
said the tolls were too high. Again, the concessionaires had to
take the state government to court to ensure compliance with the
terms of the contract. Since that time, militants from the Landless
Movement (MST), besides invading and occupying rural property,
periodically attack toll booths, drive the collectors out, let
traffic pass for free, and set up stands along the highway to sell
their wares, while state police stand by and watch. Many accuse
Governor Requiao, an acknowledged MST supporter (reftel), of
encouraging these attacks. At the very least, his views encourage
MST and anti-GMO activists to count on tepid state law enforcement
action to protect property.

11. (U) In the aftermath of his confrontation with the federal
judiciary, the Governor is facing renewed criticism - and another
potential battle with prosecutors - over alleged nepotism. In
addition to his brother Eduardo as Ports Superintendent, another

SAO PAULO 00000061 003 OF 003


brother, Mauricio Requiao, serves as Secretary of Education. Two of
his nephews also serve in state government, and First Lady Maristela
Quarenghi de Melo e Silva is president of the Oscar Niemeyer Museum
in Curitiba, a state entity that also receives federal and private
funds.

12. (SBU) Comment: Requiao is a polarizing figure who has been
characterized by one long-time political rival as a "PinoChavez,"
i.e., an authoritarian populist. That said, he is not without his
supporters. He has established good relations with the Lula
administration and is given credit for obtaining federal funding for
the state. Even many of his detractors admit that he works hard and
has delivered good government to his state. While some critics
claim he is mentally deranged, there appears to be considerable
political calculation in his theatrics; in this respect, he
sometimes resembles Hugo Chavez, a friend and ally whom he hosted in
Curitiba in April 2006. Sao Paulo Federal Police Superintendent Dr.
Jaber Makul Hanna Saad, who worked closely for many years with
Governor Requiao in Curitiba, told CG in late January that Requiao
is considerably better than his rhetoric, although he will "do what
is needed" to advance his political fortunes. Governor Requiao
briefly sought his party's presidential nomination in 2006 and may
be thinking of trying again in 2010.

13. (SBU) Comment continued: In this particular instance, the real
issue is Requiao's partisan use of what is intended as a neutral
public service broadcasting vehicle. Unfortunately, the line
between providing information on government activities and purveying
political propaganda is not always clear, especially to Brazilian
politicians, and Requiao is uniquely susceptible to losing sight of
acceptable boundaries. End Comment.

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