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Cablegate: Argentina: Ambassador Promotes Chevron Corporate Social

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBU #1280/01 2562148
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 122148Z SEP 08
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2023
INFO RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RUCNMER/MERCOSUR COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS BUENOS AIRES 001280

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SOCI SENV KGLB EINV ENRG KPAO BEXP PREL AR
SUBJECT: Argentina: Ambassador Promotes Chevron Corporate Social
Responsibility in Neuquen Province

Ref: Buenos Aires 751

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Summary
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1. (SBU) Ambassador attended the inauguration of a newly-rebuilt
high school on September 9 in Junin de los Andes, in the
southwestern province of Neuquen, whose reconstruction was sponsored
by Chevron Argentina. The rural school, which had been damaged in
an August 2007 fire, serves many impoverished outlying communities
and is an important community asset. Neuquen Governor Jorge Sapag
thanked Chevron for its important work, and argued that the federal
government should allow oil and gas produced in Neuquen to be sold
at higher prices as this would provide the province with more funds
for education and other spending. Ambassador's attendance served to
highlight the strong corporate social responsibility efforts of
U.S.-based businesses in Argentina, and the event received positive
media coverage. END SUMMARY.

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Chevron sponsors school rebuilding efforts
------------------------------------------

2. (U) Ambassador attended the inauguration of the newly-rebuilt
"San Ignacio" high school building in Junin de los Andes, Neuquen
Province, which had been damaged in an August 2007 fire. Chevron
Argentina and local NGO "Patagonia Crusade Foundation" (Fundacion
Cruzada Patagonica) teamed up to lead this reconstruction effort.
Also present at the event was Neuquen Governor Jorge Sapag, Wes
Lohec, Chevron's Managing Director for Latin America Exploration and
Production (based in Caracas), local authorities, NGO
representatives, students, teachers, and Junin residents.

3. (U) The rural school, with about 210 students, also serves many
impoverished outlying communities, and is equipped with several
dormitory rooms for these students. San Igacio also teaches
farming, animal husbandry and other vocational skills, and its
surrounding farm and animal pens are used for training in these
areas, and its products are used to supplement the diets of the
students. The school also runs a basic education program for
adults, which is presently serving about 70 members of the
community. About 1300 students have attended the school in its
25-year existence. The school also serves an unofficial community
center for the region, and the school building's restoration has
been of crucial importance for the community's social cohesion. The
new and larger school building has many new safety and construction
standards, including smoke detectors and automated sprinklers in
every room. All the construction work on the new school was
performed by regional companies.

4. (U) San Ignacio also has two strong ties with the United States.
They have a vibrant exchange program with the Foundation for
Community Vitality in Billings, Montana. San Ignacio also
participates in the U.S.-initiated GLOBE environment program, and
has twice won international awards for its GLOBE work.

----------------------------
Neuquen Governor Jorge Sapag
----------------------------

5. (SBU) In his remarks at the inauguration ceremony, Governor Sapag
expressed his thanks and strong support for Chevron's corporate
social responsibility efforts, both at the school and in the rest of
the province. He called on the Federal Government to allow higher
prices for oil and gas (currently constrained by high export tariffs
at prices far below world market levels) to encourage greater
investment in the province and to expand the province's hydrocarbon
royalty revenue base for spending for education, infrastructure and
other public services. Neuquen Province is one of Argentina's
oldest and most important oil and gas producers; its reserves
represent two-thirds and one-quarter, respectively, of Argentina's
total. Neuquen Province is also Argentina's main hydroelectric
producer, with five major dams. Sapag thanked the Ambassador for
his visit to the school (Ambassador's second visit to the province,
reftel), and for the continuing positive contributions of U.S.-based
companies in his province.

6. (SBU) In response to an earlier request from Governor Sapag to
Ambassador seeking equipment donations for a new provincial
Evacuation and Emergency Center, Ambassador handed the Governor a
letter notifying the Governor that this request was forwarded by
Embassy's Milgroup to U.S. Southern Command, and that such donations
will be forthcoming in the near future. The governor was very
thankful.

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Media discussions

-----------------

7. (U) The Ambassador engaged in several informal media interviews
with Neuquen City-based media outlets, including television station
RTN TV, and newspapers Rio Negro (Patagonia's oldest and
largest-selling daily), and La Manana. Ambassador highlighted
Chevron's important corporate social responsibility efforts, as well
as those of the many U.S.-based companies in the province. He also
hailed mature and multi-faceted bilateral engagement with Argentina.
These news organizations later filed positive accounts of the
school inauguration event and Ambassador's attendance.

WAYNE

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