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Cablegate: Media Reaction; Latin American Tension; 03/05/08

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DE RUEHBU #0283/01 0651234
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FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0396
INFO RHMFISS/CDR USSOCOM MACDILL AFB FL//SCJ2//
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UNCLAS BUENOS AIRES 000283

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

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TAGS: KPAO OPRC KMDR PREL
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION; LATIN AMERICAN TENSION; 03/05/08


1. SUMMARY STATEMENT

All local papers today carry opinion pieces and editorials that
delve into the implications of the conflict between Colombia and
Ecuador/Venezuela and its impact on the region. Daily-of-record "La
Nacion" highlights that "the Kirchner administration seeks to
coordinate a common posture with Brazil and the other countries from
the OAS to make a joint call for peace."

2. OPINION PIECES AND EDITORIALS

- "Neither Bush nor Galtieri"

Leading "Clarin's" editor-in-chief Ricardo Kirschbaum writes (03/05)
"The prevailing discussion is whether Colombia's military actions
overseas are legitimate. It is not an academic debate - when one
admits that a punitive incursion has violated the sovereignty of a
territory, this implies an acknowledgment that some principles
override international law...

"Ecuador and Venezuela have a porous border with the FARC. Obviously
enough, the governments of both countries and Colombian insurgents
are politically aligned... Most important of all is that Venezuelans
seem willing to grant the FARC the 'belligerent' status, which could
equate them with the Uribe administration...

"Uribe is supported by the White House. His pre-emptive blow on
Ecuador is along the lines of Bush's military policy on Afghanistan
and Iraq...

"For his part, Chavez is dangerously overacting..., which adds more
tension to a problem that is becoming a serious regional conflict.

"The precedent set by the war between Ecuador and Peru in the '90s,
with Argentina's shameful participation through a clandestine sale
of weapons, is a sample of what lies ahead if no regional deal is
reached to ratify respect for territorial sovereignty and no
solutions are found for a dangerous state of war..., and no
commitment is reached to prevent bordering countries from harboring
insurgents.

"Argentina should actively participate in the process by promoting
respect for territorial sovereignty, energetically asking for the
FARC hostage release and preventing war. The expansion of the
confrontation could be a new regional catastrophe."

- "Characters in the tropics"

Mario Wainfeld, left-of-center "Pagina 12'" international columnist,
writes (03/05) "Obtaining support for a repudiation motion of
Colombia at the OAS is an impossible mission. The main US ally in
the region is supported by many countries, particularly Central
American countries, which are influenced in their economy, politics
and even their language by the main world power.

"Ecuador's fair claim suffered a predictable retreat. No one could
imagine another ending. Chilean Jose Miguel Insulza's impulsive
calling had a more accessible goal - a FM summit could be set today.
Of course, this will not be a definitive solution. There is no
panacea and neither can one expect to deactivate the whole thing
overnight. Alvaro Uribe, under the shadow of the most important
world power, is harassing peace in the region. Hillary Clinton and
Barack Obama, Democratic pre-candidates, are supporting him 100
percent. Transversal action has been the reaction to a flagrant
violation of a country's sovereignty."

- "Cristina makes a call 'to fight for peace'"

Mariano Obarrio, political columnist of daily-of-record "La Nacion,"
comments (03/05) "For the first time, President Cristina Kirchner
made a public reference to the conflict between Colombia and
Venezuela/Ecuador, which was sparked by the death of Raul Reyes and
she called for a 'fight for peace' and commitment to 'the release of
Ingrid Betancourt and Colombian hostages.'

"In this way, the Argentine President made a subtle turn in the
posture expressed by the Foreign Ministry (which had condemned 'any
form of violation of sovereignty.')

"According to official sources, the change in her discourse, which
is now more moderate, was due to the fact that the Kirchner
administration seeks to coordinate a common posture with Brazil and
the other countries from the OAS to make a joint call for peace.

"The President seeks to become a mediator in the conflict among the
three countries. The Argentine Government also wants Cristina
Kirchner to mediate in the release of hostages (particularly Ingrid
Betancourt) in not too distant a future.

"... Something that concerns the Argentine Government is Kirchner's
trip to Venezuela to meet with Chavez, the most controversial party
to the conflict.

"Yesterday, the Argentine Government feared that the Bolivarian
leader could use the event to put Argentina near his own position,
which is confrontational with Colombia and Washington. Nonetheless,
the President is preparing gestures and words aimed at adopting a
moderate posture that will not raise her political costs overseas."

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

WAYNE

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