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Cablegate: Ambassador Delivers Response On Poisoned Wine Case

VZCZCXYZ0000
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMN #0314 1491905
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 281905Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8238
INFO RUCNMER/MERCOSUR COLLECTIVE
RUEHSM/AMEMBASSY STOCKHOLM 0128
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
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C O N F I D E N T I A L MONTEVIDEO 000314

SIPDIS

DEPT ALSO FOR WHA/BSC (KBEAMER)
NSC FOR GTOMASULO

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/27/2018
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM PTER PINR UY
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR DELIVERS RESPONSE ON POISONED WINE CASE

REF: MONTEVIDEO 00197

Classified By: Ambassador Frank E. Baxter
for reasons 1.4 (B) and (D)

1. (C) On May 14, the Ambassador delivered a letter on behalf
of President Bush to the Foreign Minister which responds to
President Vazquez' earlier request (reftel) for USG
cooperation in the release of pertinent documents related to
the death of Mrs. Cecilia Fontana de Heber in Uruguay in
1978. Fourteen declassified documents were also attached. The
letter indicates that the USG possesses no additional
information that would be helpful in identifying those
responsible for Mrs. Heber's death. ForMin Fernandez thanked
the Ambassador for the USG's help in resolving this long
standing murder case which continues to have political
repercussions. He promised to immediately forward the letter
and documents to President Vazquez.

2. (C) During the meeting, the Ambassador also took the
opportunity to raise the unsolved murder case of OPS/AID law
enforcement officer Daniel A. Mitrione who died at the hands
of the Tupamaro guerrillas in August 1970. He recalled that
the USG has not forgotten about this crime against a U.S.
citizen and that the perpetrators remain at large. The
Ambassador noted that one of the unrepentant, self-admitted
participants in the Mitrione killing is Dr. Henry Willy
ENGLER Golovchenko, who currently resides in Uppsala, Sweden.
He observed that Dr. Engler appears to be on the verge of
"rehabilitation" in Uruguay, and has even been mentioned as a
possible candidate for the Nobel Prize for his work on
Alzheimer's disease. He said that it would be "unfortunate"
should Engler ever be placed in a position within the GOU,
because it would inevitably complicate U.S./Uruguayan
bilateral relations. He urged Fernandez to release any files
that the GOU might possess on the Mitrione case. The ForMin
revealed his understanding in the matter.

3. (C) On May 21, President Vazquez telephoned the Ambassador
to thank him for his assistance in the poisoned wine case. On
May 22, an Associated Press article appeared under the
(roughly translated) title of "U.S. Without Further Evidence
in the Poisoned Wine Case". Subsequent to the AP article,
some National (Blanco) party members publicly complained that
they still believed the U.S. was withholding classified
information, but the story seems to have lost its momentum
since then.

4. (C) Comment: We are keeping our fingers crossed that the
poisoned wine case has definitively been laid to rest. The
excellent work at the NSC and the Department of State
persuaded our interlocutors that we take President Vazquez'
requests and his relationship with President Bush seriously,
even though we know that Vazquez was prompted to do so for
domestic political reasons. Finally, the Ambassador raised
the Mitrione case as a pushback on the poisoned wine case.
End Comment.
Baxter

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