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Cablegate: Brazil "Monitors" Zimbabwe Elections

VZCZCXRO5603
RR RUEHRG
DE RUEHBR #0540/01 1141203
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 231203Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY BRASILIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1483
INFO RUEHSB/AMEMBASSY HARARE 0039
RUEHRG/AMCONSUL RECIFE 7942
RUEHRI/AMCONSUL RIO DE JANEIRO 6052
RUEHSO/AMCONSUL SAO PAULO 1923

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BRASILIA 000540

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/23/2018
TAGS: BR PHUM PREL AF
SUBJECT: BRAZIL "MONITORS" ZIMBABWE ELECTIONS

REF: A. BRASILIA 00064
B. BRASILIA 00057

Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission Phillip Chicola for reasons
1.4 b and d

Summary
-------
1. (SBU) Summary: Brazil's surprising decision to
participate in monitoring Zimbabwe's elections was not what
it initially appeared. Although Brazil was among those
countries invited to serve as an observer, it was the
participation of a federal deputy as an observer on behalf of
an NGO that forced Brazil's Ministry of External Relations
(MRE) into an observer role. Although the Brazilian deputy
was critical of the process, the Brazilian Ambassador
uncharacteristically made several comments in the media. He
criticized Zimbabwe's opposition for declaring an early
victory and described Zimbabwe's elections as "exemplary."
In the end, MRE says that it never had an official delegation
engaged in election monitoring. But the incident showed that
Brazil's increasing global engagement will make it more
difficult to maintain a low-profile on controversial issues.
For now, MRE appears determined to follow its usual course on
such controversial matters by making as few waves as possible
and maintaining a friendly relationship with the Zimbabwean
Government. End Summary.

Drawn Into the Fray
-------------------
2. (SBU) Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's administration
offered countries that have never voted against it in
international fora or otherwise criticized it to participate
in "election monitoring." Among those invited were
Venezuela, China, Iran, and Russia. MRE, which generally
avoids placing itself in situations that might require taking
a controversial stance against another country, had its hand
forced in this case by Brazilian Federal Deputy Antonio
Carlos Pannunzio (PSDB -- Brazilian Social Democracy Party,
Sao Paulo State), who agreed to monitor the elections on
behalf of an NGO. This forced Brazilian Ambassador to Harare
Raul de Taunay to observe along with the deputy. Pannunzio
left the elections early, criticizing the process, leaving
Taunay alone to assess the situation, but Taunay
uncharacteristically made several public comments, reported
in the media, in which he criticized Zimbabwe's opposition
for declaring an early victory and described Zimbabwe's
elections process as "exemplary." Taunay heads one of
Brazil's growing number of single officer posts in Africa,
part of MRE's South-South diplomatic efforts to gain African
support for its international ambitions.

A Difference of Opinion
-----------------------
3. (SBU) Poloff met with Deputy Pannunzio in his office on
April 2 to discuss his thoughts on the election. Pannunzio
explained that he was not asked to observe the elections at
the behest of the GOB, but received an urgent invitation from
the NGO Lawyers for Human Rights. He said that, from his
perspective on the ground, the elections were well monitored
by a variety of international observers and the election
stations were in order; however, he stressed that he was not
naive enough to think that his brief stint in Harare
constituted real "election observation." His assessment from
his brief time there is that there is an incredible desire
for change, especially with the infrastructure in chaos and
no respect for human rights. He also noted that the delay
(at the time only a few days) was unacceptable and "worrying"
for him. He said that the results were known by officials
soon after voting closed. Ambassador Taunay provided him all
of his logistical support during his visit, he said, but did
not work with Taunay in the role of observer.

4. (C) In discussions with Poloff, MRE was on the defensive
with regard to the Ambassador Taunay's comments. Taunay said
that he did not see any problems in the early delay of
releasing the results, saying that "according to the
electoral calendar, the announcement of results was foreseen
as occurring between March 30 and April 1. Therefore, it is
within the parameters. Delays are normal. Here it's not
like a Swiss timepiece." He also said that the opposition
was premature in celebrating its victory as it did during the
last election; he said that only a fraction of the results
had been evaluated when they made their announcement.
Regarding press reports implying that MRE was willing to
cover up election irregularities to gain support for Brazil's
goal of obtaining a UN Security Council seat with African
Union support, MRE Africa II Division's Camila Silva Leao
d'Araujo Olsen stressed that not all countries are in as
advanced stages of democracy as others, by and handed Poloff

BRASILIA 00000540 002 OF 002


an op-ed from an MRE official rejecting the accusation.
There were other observers, including Uruguay and South
Africa (a careful choice of the more credible), and the EU
and US Ambassadors were also accredited to observe at the
time the elections. When Poloff mentioned that the USG was
not invited to send an official observer delegation to the
election process overall, she revealed that the GOB actually
had never taken up the Zimbabwean offer to send a delegation
to monitor elections. She said that MRE passed the
invitation around within the government, but that no one was
willing to act as an observer.

Comment
-------
5. (SBU) Comment: Although it appeared Brazil might at last
be taking a more assertive position with regard to democracy
than it traditionally has (ref B), that truth is that the GOB
responded to the offer to act as an observer to Zimbabwe's
election in a much more typical way. Brazil's presence in
Zimbabwe is itself part of a broader development. The GOB is
pushing its South-South strategy with a strong focus on
Africa (ref A), largely with an eye to Brazil's effort to
gain support for high-level positions in international fora,
in particular the UNSC seat. By the end of this year, Brazil
will have doubled its presence in Africa to 34 embassies
since the beginning of President Lula's first term in 2003.
However, Harare is one of Brazil's Ambassador-only posts, and
Taunay's statements, made after serving over a year there,
may be an indication that coordination between such posts and
Brasilia is proving difficult. Moreover, in Brasilia, the
entire African continent is currently covered by just ten
officers, some of whom are in the midst of preparations to go
overseas themselves. As Brazil becomes more recognized as a
global player, it will undoubtedly become more difficult to
keep a low profile and avoid taking a position on challenging
issues. For now, MRE appears determined to follow its usual
course on such controversial matters by making as few waves
as possible and maintaining a friendly relationship with the
Zimbabwean Government. End Comment.
SOBEL

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