Cablegate: Argentina: Ambassador Meets with Senate Defense Chair Maria


DE RUEHBU #0645/01 1361506
R 151506Z MAY 08



E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (U) Summary: The Ambassador met May 14 with National Victory
Front Senator and President of the Senate Defense Commission Maria
Cristina Perceval. Ambassador Wayne and Perceval discussed her
recent trip to the United States to attend a conference on the role
of civilians in the security sector. Perceval stressed her
commitment to international security and the importance of
strengthening multilateral organizations. She also emphasized her
commitment to gender issues and her work on the fight against
trafficking in persons. End summary.

2. (U) Ambassador Wayne said he hoped that Senator Perceval's
experience at the April 9-11 conference in Washington sponsored by
the Department of Defense and the Center for Hemispheric Defense
Studies, "The Development of Careers and Functions for Civilians in
the Defense and Security Sectors," had been positive. Perceval
replied that the seminar was excellent, and reiterated the need to
cultivate civilians who are familiar with national security issues.
She said the conference provided valuable opportunities to discuss
with other representatives from Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru, and Brazil
the resolution of conflicts in South America.

Multilateralism and Peacekeeping

3. (U) Perceval mentioned that she was a board member of the
non-governmental organization "Parliamentarians for Global Action,"
and that she and other members had met recently in New York. As
part of that effort they talked with staff of the U.S. House Foreign
Affairs Committee. Perceval said the NGO was now working the 2010
revision of the Rome Statute. Ambassador reiterated that it was
excellent that Perceval had participated in the seminar and that
such exchanges and conversations were necessary to foster better
mutual understanding. She said she wanted to look for ways to make
more regular exchanges between U.S. and Argentine parliamentarians.

4. (U) Perceval also noted she had recently participated in a
meeting convened in Peru to discuss and debate MINUSTAH's progress.
This included representatives from all of the Latin American
countries participating and allowed for excellent exchanges on
lessons learned and challenges. The Ambassador said this was a very
good idea and that he had told Minister of Defense Nilda Garre the
same thing. Ambassador Wayne applauded the Senator's and group's
efforts to connect politics and practice. Perceval mentioned that
she would be traveling to Ecuador to participate in a conference on
civilian leadership of the military at the University of Quito.

5. (U) Ambassador Wayne said that we all can learn from
peacekeeping and other humanitarian tasks. He cited as an example
his own experiences, noting how difficult it was to coordinate
relief efforts between so many countries, NGOs, and defense forces
at first in response to the East Asian tsunami and the 2005 Pakistan
earthquake, but, after a number of weeks, the process normalized and
everyone benefited. Perceval agreed and mentioned that she was
finishing up online coursework through the University of the United
Nations regarding peacekeeping. Perceval mentioned that it was a
personal decision to prioritize work on an international security
agenda and said it was important to strengthen multilateral

Women in Politics

6. (SBU) Perceval mentioned that she did not come from a
traditional political background, and that as a Professor she was
more familiar with ideas and had more exposure to think tanks. She
said that being a senator, nevertheless, was a serious
responsibility. Perceval mentioned she was friends with President
Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, but caveated the relationship as
more professional than personal, dating from their work together in
the Argentine Senate. The Ambassador noted that Perceval also had
worked on women's issues, to which Perceval quickly replied these
issues were her passion. She cited the recently formed Women's Bloc
(caucus) in Congress as an example. The Ambassador noted
Argentina's commitment to promoting women in politics and the fact
that the electoral law (2005 amendment) mandates political parties
must nominate a minimum percentage of 30 percent women candidates in
legislative elections. Perceval agreed, but added that it wasn't
enough to have women represented at the table. She said the picture
was broader and had to take into account their background, views,
and how they got to their current position.

7. (U) Ambassador noted women's activism in areas where they are
building broad networks, like in anti-trafficking- in-persons (TIP)
efforts. Perceval highlighted her work in contributing to the first
federal TIP law recently passed in Congress. Perceval stressed the
importance of gradual change in strong democracies so that citizens
have time to internalize the law and then learn to abide by it. She
mentioned working with then-Uruguayan deputy (now Minister of the
Interior) Daisy Tourne against child sex trafficking. Perceval also
mentioned how she had worked with Microsoft to push for a child-safe
Internet environment. The Ambassador congratulated Perceval on her

efforts and noted the USG had offered the Justice Minister
assistance and to share best practices on implementation of the
recently passed federal anti-TIP law.


8. (SBU) Senator Perceval was warm and engaging in this meeting
with the Ambassador. She understands the important role of civilian
political leadership in international security affairs and has shown
initiative and interest in learning more. She is an activist
legislator and close to President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and
other advisors, like Ambassador to the United States Hector
Timerman, whom she referred to as "her friend" during the meeting.
End comment.

Bio Note

9. (U) Mara Cristina Perceval is currently serving her second term
as Senator, representing the Peronist Party of the Province of
Mendoza. She is President of the Committee on National Defense and
Member of the Committees on Foreign Relations, Population and Human
Development, Education, Constitutional Rights and Privileges, and
the Joint Argentine-Chilean Parliamentary Commission. She is also a
member of the Bicameral Commission in charge of supervising
Presidential decrees. Perceval is an active member of several local
and international NGOs active in women's issues, and she has various
publications to her credit. In recent years, she has gained
expertise in defense issues as well.

10. (U) Senator Perceval maintains a low profile but is
nevertheless an important political figure both in her province and
at the national level. During her years in Congress, she became
close to President Cristina Kirchner, as they were both part of the
officialist bloc in the Senate. In 2005, Perceval co-founded the
political group "Movimiento Evita", which was one of the first to
promote Cristina Kirchner's presidential candidacy. She is also
close to the Chief of Cabinet Alberto Fernandez. She was mentioned
as a candidate for the Minister of Defense in 2005, which was
ultimately taken by Nilda Garre, and to run for Mendoza's Governor's
Office in 2007, but Celso Jaque received the Kirchners' approval

11. (U) Perceval received her undergraduate degree in Philosophy at
the National University of Cuyo in 1980 and has a strong background
in women's issues. Before taking office as a Senator in 2001, she
occupied a variety of political positions, both in Mendoza and in
the National Government. She was Coordinator for Equal
Opportunities in Education for the Province of Buenos Aires in 2000,
advisor to the Lower House of Congress on social policy and women's
issues (1993-1995), President of the Women's Institute of Mendoza
(1993-1995), Coordinator for Equal Opportunities for Women within
the Mendoza provincial government (1991-1993). At the same time,
she served as a professor of social sciences and philosophy at the
National University of Cuyo.

12. (U) Maria Cristina Perceval was born on September 10, 1956, in
Mendoza. She is from a family of prominent musicians in her
province: her father Julio Perceval was the founder of the Music
School in Cuyo National University, and her mother Alejandrina
Suarez was a famous organ player. She is married to Pablo Martn,
and has three children: Sebastin (25), Arturo (15) and Julieta
(14). She speaks English, French, and German.


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