Cablegate: Southern Cone Com Conference Share Best Practices


DE RUEHSG #0454/01 1371545
R 161545Z MAY 08



E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (U) Southern Cone COM's met in Santiago April 25-26, where
they shared information on environmental ("green building"),
public diplomacy, and consular best practices in the region.
They also heard from OES on its priorities, including on
climate change and biofuels. A DVC with Customs and Border
Protection offered useful insights on how to facilitate
travel and entry to the U.S. This is the second of two
cables. Discussion of regional security issues, economic
policy matters, and embassies' cooperation with SOUTHCOM
reported septel. End summary.

2. (U) Ambassador Paul Simons and Embassy Santiago hosted
April 25-26 the fourth iteration of the Southern Cone Chiefs
of Mission conference, an initiative begun in 2006 to
encourage exchange of views and best practices on issues of
common interest to missions in this region. Ambassadors
Simons, Tony Wayne (Argentina), Cliff Sobel (Brazil), Jim
Cason (Paraguay), and Frank Baxter (Uruguay) were joined by
Rear Admiral Harry B. Harris, Jr., J-3 Director of
Operations, SOUTHCOM; Ambassador Reno Harnish, OES PDAS; and,
Chris McMullen, WHA DAS for South America. DCM Urban and
E/Pol Counselor were also present for all working sessions.

Going Green

3. (U) OBO Acting Director Adam Namm and OBO staff April 25
briefed via DVC on how OBO is integrating "green building"
techniques into new embassies. OBO's 2010 budget will
include a three-fold increase in conservation measures, a
working capital energy efficiency fund for new building, and
requirements for energy saving performance contracts (ESPCs).
It is developing a "Green Guide" for posts worldwide.
Ambassador Simons suggested OBO consider public/private
partnerships for solar (photovotaic); OBO noted it had not
yet done so globally but agreed to explore the idea.
Representatives from Embassy Santiago's Green Committee
outlined their initiatives and provided copies to COMs of its
Action Plan. The Embassy's Green Initiative Action Plan' s
components include (1) Solar, (2) Conservation (energy and
water) and (3) recycling. The Plan consists of
easy-to-implement and low cost efficiency measures, as well
as longer-term deliverables. The Plan was launched in March
and had generated sigificant employee enthusiasm. Specific
short term measures included:

-- adjusted Embassy temp by 2 degrees
-- turned off one elevator after hrs
-- encourage "stair policy" for employees
-- created awards/incentive program for employees ($50 to top
three reducers of electricity consumption/month)
-- Facilities offered to help weatherstip/caulk govt-owned
residences (and to advise LES on this)

Longer term initiatives included:

-- installation of solar heating thermal panels at the CMR
-- re-landscaping portion of CMR and/or Chancery to less
water-intensive, native plants (in partnership w/ Chilean
-- looking into installation of drip irrigation at CMR and/or

OBO expressed appreciation for Santiago's green initiatives
and said it would consider employing some of the ideas
presented, particularly energy savings proposals at USG-owned

4. (SBU) Ambasador Harnish provided an overview of
administration policies on climate change, the Energy
Independence and Security Act, the just concluded WIREC
renewables conference, and environmental chapters/cooperation
in FTAs, as well as U.S. and Brazilian interest in debunking
media reports that production of biofuels is contributing to
food scarcity.

ACTION FOR OES: The Ambassadors expressed interest in
learning more about OPIC's USD 1.5 billion energy investment
fund and more specifically about the new Latin America Energy

Initiative. The Ambassadors also requested more public
diplomacy materials on biofuels, specifically the timeframe
for moving to second generation technologies. In the context
of U.S.-Chile judicial training for environmental law
enforcement (under auspices of U.S.-Chile FTA) all
Ambassadors expressed interest in increased law
enforcement/prosecution capacity building and suggested the
Department consider designing a new IV program on regional
environmental law enforcement, which would both educate and
help build regional relationships.

Best Practices: Public Diplomacy

5. (U) Santiago PAO reviewed best practices in Public
Diplomacy. Ambassadors contributed information on strategies
that have worked well at their posts, and offered suggestions
for networking. Among the points covered were:

-- American Corners (ACs) effectiveness in establishing and
maintaining a PD presence for the U.S. outside of the capital
city. One of Chile,s five ACs has a special orientation to
science, technology, environmental, and energy issuesand
frequently hosts USG visitors who are coming to Chile for
other sci/tech-related purposes. Santiago employs a
full-time LES as AC coordinator, a key factor in making the
program work. Ambassador Sobel suggested a DVC to share best
practices on ACs and other items involving PAOs.

-- Strategies for outreach. Ambassador Wayne noted his PA
Section has all Embassy employees fill out a "skills bank"
form, noting areas of interest and expertise, so they can be
programmed at appropriate speaking venues. Ambassador Cason
said a standard "stump speech" has been developed about
U.S.-Paraguay relations and the work of the Embassy for all
officers to use at outreach talks. Ambassador Sobel shared
information about USA Fairs, traveling exhibits with
comprehensive information about the U.S., drawing on multiple
offices and agencies. Ambassador Wayne described the recent
NGO Fair held in Buenos Aires and recommended reading Buenos
Aires 533, which details the excellent outreach achived. An
English course for working journalists in Santiago involoves
15 journalists who have intermediate levels of English
fluency; other embassies had also found this a useful program.

-- Websites, and the duties of webmasters. All agreed that
film and video streaming, press conferences, messages from
the Ambassador, and other uses of technology on the website
are effective in reaching audiences, especially the young.
Ambassador Wayne suggested a DVC among webmasters in the
region to share their best practices and innovations.
Ambassador Cason noted his staff also scours popular websites
and blogs for evidence of disinformation about the U.S.,
which the Embassy can then quickly counter.

6. (U) The COMs discussed various strategies for supporting
academic exchanges and English language training. In
Paraguay, the business sector offers microscholarships, and
the BNC provides significant discounts. Ambassador Sobel
pointed to the value of the BSC Youth Ambassadors (YA)
program, which receives more than 3,000 applications for its
35 annual slots. The Ambassador sought and gained approval
from L to send letters to the presidents of U.S. universities
in support of YAs, which has paid off with scholarships. He
suggested a region-wide DVC on the YA program and others.
Ambassador Wayne cited the success of the Texas International
Education Consortium (TIEC) program, which hosts English
teachers in San Antonio. Ambassador Cason described his foray
into performaing with well-known Paraguayan artists on a CD
to raise money for English language instruction at the BNC in

Best Practices: Consular

7. (U) Santigao's Consul General opened a discussion on
consular work, briefing on current issues facing Consular
Affairs. He noted worldwide statistics for visas, passports
and adoptions and CA efforts to meet rising demand for
services. He also touched on several overarching issues
including consular leadership, victim's assistance and
children's issues. The Embassy's Deputy CG then presented

two of Santiago's current initiatives. The first is a
systematic approach to matching resources with visa
application demand called "wait times and tripwires" and the
second is a developmental program called "Locally Engaged
Staff of the Month". This innovative practice increases
efficiency and encourages cross training. Lively discussion
followed on a variety of topics including eligible family
members regaining authority to adjudicate visas and the
public diplomacy challenges of long visa wait times.
Ambassador Wayne commended work done with customer
satisfaction surveys by Embassy BA's consular teams, which
led to new efficiencies and boosted customer satisfaction
ratings to 95 percent positive.

Digital Video Conference: CBP Miami

8. (U) The conference concluded with a DVC with Customs
Border Protection's (CBP) Miami office. Participants from
Miami were Harold Woodward, Director of Operations, Miami
Region and Diane Loftus, Assistant Port Director, Miami
Airport Passenger Processing. CBP reviewed referral
procedure by which posts may request courtesies of the port
be extended to very high-level travelers and noted the
importance of at least 24 hours advance notification. In
response to a question about silent paroles, CBP stated such
arrangements should be made through the DHS/ Immigration and
Customs Enforcement (ICE) or Legal Attaches at post. CBP
described the system of hard and soft secondary referrals and
how that workload is managed. CBP invited DVC participants
to visit the facility if they are passing through.

9. (U) COMs suggested creating opportunities for South
American media to visit and do stories about the facility and
suggested having Mr. Woodward or the port director record a
video that could provide information about the admission
process, to be shown in consular waiting rooms. CBP
explained that there was a way to enter a " primary outlook
override" when a traveler is identified as not being the
subject of a match in the database but people with common
names may still face additional scrutiny and referral to
secondary. In closing, Mr. Woodward emphasized the
importance of transparency and advance notification with
special cases.


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