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Cablegate: Media Reaction; Latin American Crisis; 03/04/08

VZCZCXYZ2233
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBU #0282 0650735
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 050735Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0395
INFO RHMFISS/CDR USSOCOM MACDILL AFB FL//SCJ2//
RULGPUA/USCOMSOLANT

UNCLAS BUENOS AIRES 000282

SIPDIS

STATE FOR INR/R/MR, I/GWHA, WHA, WHA/PDA, WHA/BSC,
WHA/EPSC
CDR USSOCOM FOR J-2 IAD/LAMA

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPAO OPRC KMDR PREL
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION; LATIN AMERICAN CRISIS; 03/04/08

1. SUMMARY STATEMENT

Major local papers extensively report on and carry opinion pieces
and editorials related to the three-nation crisis that threatens
Latin America's stability after Venezuela and Ecuador cut diplomatic
ties with Colombia and ordered troops to their borders.

2. OPINION PIECES AND EDITORIALS

- "A tropical tango for three"

Daily-of-record "La Nacion" (03/04) carries an opinion piece by Abel
Posse, a former diplomat and writer, who opines "... We (Argentines)
need to be extremely careful (regarding the crisis among Colombia,
Ecuador and Venezuela)... The Argentine Government's erratic
diplomacy has no room for error. In her role as temporary Mercosur
head, the President has an obvious diplomatic excuse for postponing
her visit to Caracas and heading for Brasilia and Montevideo instead
in order to urgently call on the organization. Brazil and Argentina
should be united in a call for an end to any military attack and
propose that Mercosur and the OAS press for a peace pact based on
Colombia's apologies for its incursion in Ecuador without due
authorization. Colombia will have to accept Ecuador's formal
protest.

"Chavez, facing a strong economic crisis that adds to his discredit
gained by his insulting authoritarianism, could ignite an
'unpredictable fire.' He still suffers from the dangerous 'heroes'
dream.'

"In brief, we have a big opportunity to consolidate the hemispheric
strategy for peace, modernization and development, which we planned
with Brazil and which we cannot afford to risk. It is an
extraordinary opportunity for our President to define herself in the
diplomatic field."

- "A wrong message"

Marcelo Cantelmi, international editor of leading "Clarin," comments
(03/04)"The main point of this conflict is that Colombia trespassed
a national border in entering Ecuador, to attack a guerrilla camp.
Bogota attempted to justify its action through a wave of
denunciation, but it only worsened the scenario. By claiming that
the Quito and Caracas governments are FARC accomplices..., it sent
the highly erroneous message that it has the right to ignore
international legality when it comes to imposing its domestic
military strategy. This is a huge similarity to George W. Bush's
pre-emptive war doctrine, with its immense negative impact on
international security. It is not strange that this operation has
triggered huge concern in the region, which is now working around
the clock to defuse this serious precedent. The current escalation
was inevitable. Ecuador's rupture of ties to Colombia and
Venezuela's expulsion of the Colombian Ambassador are all facts
aimed at complicating Colombia's stance. The region wants Alvaro
Uribe to apologize, which he could perhaps do, although the point is
whether his gesture will do any good."

- "It would be a big mistake for the Argentine Government to side
with one of the parties to the conflict."

Business-financial "El Cronista" carries an opinion piece by Claudio
Fantini, expert in international politics, who writes (03/04)
"Alvaro Uribe's temerity in waging his war against the FARC and Hugo
Chavez's flamboyant and incontinent rhetoric are pushing the region
to the verge of an abyss. This is why it is crucial for the
governments of the region to act in a balanced way and urge both
parties to hold talks and defuse the crisis...

"... The incident unveiled both Uribe's dangerous temerity and
Ecuador's intromission in its neighboring country's domestic
conflict. As to Hugo Chavez, it was his own reaction which unveiled
a total affinity between his administration and the FARC...

"Under these circumstances, it would be a big mistake for the
Argentine government to side with one of the two parties to the
conflict instead of urging them to obtain a balanced dtente."

To see more Buenos Aires reporting, visit our
classified website at:
http://www.state.sqov.gov/p/wha/buenosaires

WAYNE

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