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Cablegate: Argentina: Visiting G/Tip Ambassador Presents

VZCZCXYZ0016
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBU #0920/01 1841734
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 021734Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1478

UNCLAS BUENOS AIRES 000920

SIPDIS

G/TIP FOR BARBARA FLECK, JANE SIGMON, AND MARK FORSTROM

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ASEC ELAB KCRM PHUM PREL SMIG KWMN PGOV AR
SUBJECT: ARGENTINA: VISITING G/TIP AMBASSADOR PRESENTS
ANTI-TIP ACTION PLAN AND HAS "PRODUCTIVE CONVERSATION" WITH
FM TAIANA

REF: SECSTATE 64746

1. (SBU) Summary. On June 19, Ambassador Wayne and
visiting Ambassador-at-Large and Director of the Office to
Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons Mark P. Lagon
called on Foreign Minister Jorge Taiana to discuss
Argentina's efforts to combat trafficking in persons (TIP).
Drawing from the TIP action plan in ref A, Lagon presented
recommendations on how to strengthen Argentina's anti-TIP
efforts, urging implementation and enforcement of
Argentina,s new federal anti-trafficking law, increased
prosecutions of human traffickers and complicit officials,
and increased assistance for trafficking victims. Lagon also
offered USG cooperation in the fight against TIP. Taiana
acknowledged that TIP is a problem in Argentina, but stated
that the new federal law will be a valuable tool in
investigating and prosecuting human trafficking rings.
Taiana reiterated GOA "dissatisfaction with the TIP report,
adding that it was hard to believe that the report was not
'political' when Argentina, Suriname, and Venezuela are all
on the Department's Tier 2 Watch List. Lagon acknowledged
that he knew the TIP Report can be seen as an irritant, but
indicated that "clearly Argentina has taken a step forward."
Lagon indicated that the USG values Argentina's partnership
in the fight against TIP, and stated that "the United States
is willing to share best practices on these matters." Taiana
thanked him for the "productive conversation" and told Lagon
that he "came at the right time to tackle the matter." End
summary.

------------
Participants
------------

2. (SBU) On June 19, Ambassador Wayne and visiting
Ambassador-at-Large and Director of the Office to Monitor
and Combat Trafficking in Persons Mark P. Lagon called on
Argentine Foreign Minister Jorge Taiana to discuss
Argentina's efforts to combat trafficking in persons (TIP).
The Foreign Minister was accompanied by Director General for
Bilateral Affairs Vicente Espeche Gil, Special Envoy for
Women's Affairs Magdalena Faillace, Office Director for North
American Affairs Antonio Trombetta, and U.S. desk officer
Counselor Claudio Rojos. Ambassadors Wayne and Lagon were
accompanied by G/TIP Reports Officer Barbara Fleck and poloff
(notetaker).

--------------------------------------
FM: TIP Increasingly Relevant in Argentina
--------------------------------------

3. (SBU) "Trafficking in persons is unfortunately
increasingly relevant in Argentina", Minister Taiana began.
He explained that, according to a report by the International
Organization for Migration, it appears that Argentina's main
TIP problem is internal trafficking of Argentine women for
the purposes of sexual exploitation. Victims of labor
exploitation seem to be mostly Bolivians and Paraguayans, and
Peruvians to a lesser extent. Taiana explained that before
the passage of anti-TIP legislation in April, provincial
authorities were responsible for investigating TIP and the
federal government could not intervene. Lack of
investigations and convictions at the provincial level gave
the impression that there is a high tolerance for the
problem. Now that Argentina has passed a federal law
criminalizing TIP, it will be a valuable tool in
investigating and prosecuting human trafficking rings.
Still, Argentina will need to modify its penal code and
develop implementing regulations, he explained.

--------------------------------
Lagon: Raises Action Plan Points
--------------------------------

4. (SBU) After noting the valuable measures Argentina is
taking to fight human trafficking, such as putting in place a
new federal law, pursuing more law enforcement actions
against traffickers on the provincial level, and taking steps
to raise public awareness, Lagon addressed with the FM
several elements in Argentina,s Tier 2 Watch List action
plan. (See Reftel, para 9.) Lagon noted that Argentina,s
recent enactment of federal anti-trafficking legislation
posed the hard challenge of implementing and enforcing the
new law, particularly in terms of prosecuting those
responsible for exploiting victims, in addition to the
sensitive issue of prosecuting complicit officials on the
local or provincial level who may be involved with
trafficking crimes. Lagon noted that official complicity
with human trafficking is a problem found across the globe,
and pledged USG assistance where possible to tackle this


difficult concern, which is often a catalyst for human
trafficking. Lagon also noted the importance of providing
greater victim protection through shelters and social
services, and increasing efforts to find and rescue victims
in brothels and sweatshops.

------------------------------------
Lagon: Important to Dig Deeper to Find Victims and to
Maintain Data
------------------------------------

5. (SBU) On the labor front, Taiana stated that the GOA's
2006 "Gran Patria" plan, whereby undocumented immigrants can
regularize their immigration status in Argentina, has helped
to improve the situation as undocumented workers are more
vulnerable to trafficking for labor exploitation purposes.
Ambassador Lagon noted that it is important to identify ways
in which migrants can be vulnerable to TIP. He stated that
U.S. policy is to provide immigration relief to TIP victims
so that they do not fear coming forward to denounce the
traffickers. He added that it is important for law
enforcement authorities to dig deeper when interviewing
potential victims, particularly adults. Victims may appear
to have consented at first, but may have lost control over
their lives along the way. "Law enforcement officers should
see if consent has disappeared over time," he stated. Lagon
also noted that tracking information and data about
trafficking cases and victims provides a valuable tool to
governments, and does not just represent a request from the
USG to prepare the TIP Report. The FM agreed that data
collection is a key element of accounting, and that the GOA
regularly gathers such information for the U.S. Human Rights
Report and UNESCO. The FM further agreed that maintaining
accurate data is helpful for a government,s own purposes, to
determine future policies and actions.

-----------------------------------
Lagon: Inter-agency coordination is key
-----------------------------------

6. (SBU) Special Envoy for Woman's Issues Ambassador
Magdalena Faillace reported that she recently attended an
informal interagency meeting to discuss how the new law would
be implemented. In addition, MERCOSUR has taken up the
issue, as human trafficking is a regional problem. At the
MOJ-sponsored MERCOSUR Congress on TIP and Child Pornography
in early June, participants noted that there is a need for
dedicated TIP victim shelters that are different from
shelters for domestic violence victims. "We are working on
the issue", she stated. Lagon underscored the importance of
inter-agency coordination in the fight against TIP, adding
that he chairs an inter-agency working group to coordinate
domestic and international efforts to combat TIP, and
emphasized that the USG struggles with its own human
trafficking problems. He explained that the U.S. evaluates
its own efforts to fight TIP and issues annual
recommendations on how best the USG can improve.

----------------------------------
FM: Rankings appear to be "Political"
----------------------------------

7. (SBU) Taiana stated that the GOA was "very dissatisfied"
with the U.S. assessment, adding that it was hard to believe
that the report was not "political" when only Argentina,
Suriname, and Venezuela are the only countries in the Western
Hemisphere (WHA) that are on the Department's Tier 2 Watch
List. (Note: He was mistaken. There are seven WHA
countries, including Argentina, on the Tier 2 Watch List in
the 2008 TIP Report; Suriname is ranked on Tier 2. End
Note.) He wondered out loud if practice and problems
regarding TIP were really better in places like the Dominican
Republic or Mexico compared to Argentina. He said he found
this hard to believe. He stated emphatically that Argentina
is a country that respects human rights and that is very open
about its problems. He noted that Argentine public awareness
of the problem has reached new levels as a result of "Vidas
Robadas", a popular television series loosely based on TIP
activist Susana Trimarco's efforts to find her daughter who
is believed to be a trafficking victim. "Even my wife
watches the show," he said.

-------------------------------
Lagon: Report can be irritant, but notes progress too
-------------------------------

8. (SBU) Lagon suggested that the TIP Report aims to be
objective and explained that the U.S. Congress has mandated
that the State Department produce its annual report
evaluating the efforts of foreign governments to fight human


trafficking. He also acknowledged that the Report can be
seen as an irritant because it grades countries, but that the
Report also recognizes progress. "Clearly Argentina has
taken a step forward," he said.

------------------------
Lagon: USG values Argentina's partnership
------------------------

9. (SBU) Lagon noted that the USG values Argentina's
partnership in the fight against TIP. He added that the new
TIP law would be valuable in that effort, but emphasized that
the hard part is enforcing the law. At the end of the
meeting, he presented a copy of the text of the TIP action
plan specified in reftel, para 9, to Minister Taiana, saying
that, in an effort to be transparent about what was relevant
to future rankings, "these are the things we think would be
the most helpful." Lagon also noted that "the United States
is willing to share best practices on these matters." In
closing the meeting, Taiana thanked him for the "productive
conversation" and told Lagon that he "came at the right time
to tackle the matter."

10. (U) Ambassador Lagon cleared on this cable.
WAYNE

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