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Cablegate: Argentina: Senate Vp Juan Carlos Romero

VZCZCXYZ0000
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBU #0478/01 1052039
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 142039Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0778
INFO RUCNMER/MERCOSUR COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS BUENOS AIRES 000478

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAGR ECON ETRD PGOV AR
SUBJECT: ARGENTINA: SENATE VP JUAN CARLOS ROMERO
ENCOURAGES BILATERAL COOPERATION

1. (SBU) Summary: Ambassador met with Senate Vice President Juan
Carlos Romero of the Kirchners' National Victory Front (FPV) on
April 4 in his office to discuss greater bilateral legislative
cooperation. Romero has occasionally been critical of GOA policy in
the past and publicly disagreed with the executive branch's recent
increase of agricultural export taxes. Romero proposed initiating
long-term relations between the Argentine and U.S. Senates to foster
better understanding between both countries. Ambassador welcomed
the initiative and agreed that dialogue helps prevent
misunderstandings. End summary.

Building Legislative Cooperation
------------------------

2. (SBU) Romero shared with the Ambassador the March 31 Senate
decree that established a U.S.-Argentina Friendship Committee in the
Senate. The committee members include Senators Romero, Maria
Eugenia Estensoro (Civic Coalition), and Liliana Negre de Alonso
(Dissident Peronist Party). Romero said that he had his differences
with the government but believed there was much the United States
and Argentina could do to work together. Romero also shared with
the Ambassador a letter to the U.S. Senate signed by members of the
Friendship Committee plus Senators Ernesto Ricardo Sanz, Guillermo
Raul Jenefes, Carlos Alberto Reutemann, Juan Carlos Marino,
concerning the export of fresh meat from Argentina urging a dialogue
to discuss their livestock industry.

3. (SBU) The Ambassador welcomed Romero's initiative and cited
Senator Shelby's recent visit as an example of U.S. legislative
interest in Argentina. Ambassador suggested that a visit to
Congress in Washington could be supplemented with other
opportunities, including local think tanks that might be of
interest.

Ag Strikes and the PJ
---------------------

4. (SBU) Romero shared with Ambassador Wayne his views of the
recent agriculture strike. He said that he was always against the
export taxes because the federal government is not required to share
those revenues with the provinces. Romero opined the export taxes
were based on a mistaken view of taking from the farmers to
subsidize industry, an approach that he said hurts investment.
Romero expressed hope that the government would follow through on
its promise to engage the agricultural sector in dialogue. He also
told Ambassador that he was working in the Senate with Senator
Reutemann to see if they could develop something that might prevent
the situation from re-occurring.

5. (SBU) Ambassador asked Romero for his thoughts on the
reorganization of the Partido Justialista (PJ). Romero said by the
end of the month they should have a slate of candidates finalized
and then decide if they're going to go with a single list or open
elections. He predicted that in 30 days the party would be up and
running.

Comment
-------

6. (SBU) Romero was friendly and relaxed during the meeting, and
took the initiative to suggest areas where U.S. and Argentine
interests may overlap. His outreach is a positive step towards
developing closer relationships with Congress, which is currently
emaciated but has the potential to become more vocal and effective.
End Comment.

Bio Note
--------

7. (SBU) Romero is a life-long politician who served as a
three-time Governor of Salta (1995-2007) and was elected as a
National Senator in 2007. He concurrently holds the Vice Presidency
of the Senate, the third-highest ranking position in that Chamber.
Romero has never been perceived as a close ally of the Kirchners,
but he has slowly demonstrated a willingness to work towards the
reorganization of the PJ. In March, he was elected to the temporary
PJ board of directors.

8. (SBU) Romero's first political post was as a National Senator in
1986. An attorney by training, he graduated from the National
University of Buenos Aires in 1974. His political formulation was
probably influenced by his father, who was a Peronist "caudillo" in
Salta. (His father was Governor from 1986 to 1992 and held control
of the local media and the Peronist political patronage system).

9. (U) Romero was born in Salta on November 16, 1950 and is married
to Carmen Lucia Marcuzzi; the couple has four children. Two
children live in Buenos Aires, one is studying at the University of
San Andres, and the eldest is married and lives in Salta. Although
Romero spoke Spanish in this meeting, he claims to know English.

WAYNE

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