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Cablegate: Argentina: La Rioja Governor Welcomes U.S.

VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBU #1434/01 2941202
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 201202Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2268
INFO RUCNMER/MERCOSUR COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

UNCLAS BUENOS AIRES 001434

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV ECON AR
SUBJECT: ARGENTINA: LA RIOJA GOVERNOR WELCOMES U.S.
INVESTMENT

REF: BUENOS AIRES 1401 AND 1380

1. (SBU) Summary: La Rioja Governor and Peronist party
member Luis Beder Herrera described his rural province's
economy and expressed hope for U.S. investment in the mining
area. The Governor asked about U.S. relations with
Argentina, and the Ambassador highlighted strong cooperation
in a wide range of initiatives, but noted relations have been
somewhat strained by the ongoing "Valijagate" trial in Miami
(reftels). The Ambassador also highlighted the availability
of U.S. training programs and seminars in which legal and law
enforcement professionals from La Rioja could participate,
particularly as part of the fight against trafficking in
persons. The governor's interest in U.S. investment in his
province is a potential avenue for greater commercial
cooperation. End Summary.

2. (SBU) Ambassador Wayne met with La Rioja Governor and
Peronist party member Luis Beder Herrera on October 8. The
Governor was accompanied by La Rioja Province Liaison
Coordinator Mariana Buratti. Poloff (notetaker) also
attended.

-------------------------
U.S. Business in La Rioja
-------------------------

3. (SBU) The Ambassador asked Governor Beder Herrera about
investment in his province. The Governor replied that
although the current turmoil in international financial
markets made it difficult to promote investment opportunities
in his province, he noted that La Rioja, with a population of
400,000, is rich in exportable products, including minerals,
wine, olives, grapes, fish, and nuts. The U.S. is a
destination for much of these exports, he said. He stated
that La Rioja exports 95 percent of its olive production and
described the province's olive valley in Chilecito as one of
the best, even surpassing Spain. When asked about U.S.
commercial presence in La Rioja, the Governor mistakenly
referred to the UK-Dutch company Unilever as U.S.-based and
noted its positive contribution. He added that the company,
which has a large plant in La Rioja, provides its employees
with good benefits and maintains environmentally-friendly
work practices. The Governor expressed interest in
attracting U.S. investment in La Rioja's rich mineral sector.
The Ambassador said that the Embassy's Commercial Secton
could assist with this request.

-----------------------------
U.S. Relations with Argentina
-----------------------------

4. (SBU) When asked about U.S.-Argentine relations, the
Ambassador cited our strong cooperation in
anti-narcotrafficking and counter-terrorism and our recent
joint agreements on educational exchanges, nanotechnology,
and national parks. He noted that Argentina has a strong
middle class, high levels of education, and the potential to
serve as an example for democratic values in the continent.
He acknowledged, however, that the relationship is somewhat
strained at present by the ongoing "Valijagate" trial in
Miami of alleged Venezuelan agent Franklin Duran (reftels).

-----------------------------
TIP and USG Training Programs
-----------------------------

5. (SBU) The Ambassador noted his recent discussion with
Argentine anti-trafficking activist Susana Trimarco during
the Vital Voices reception on October 7. (Note: Trimarco, in
her search for her daughter, who was kidnapped by traffickers
in 2002 in Tucuman province, has rescued 100 women from
bondage and raised public and government awareness of the
crime. Trimarco's leads suggest her daughter was trafficked
to La Rioja and press reports suggest her remains may be in
the province. To date, these speculations have not been
confirmed.) The Governor said he appreciated the USG's
recognition of Trimarco, one of ten women to receive the
first International Women of Courage Award in March 2007.
The Ambassador added that human trafficking is a crime which
knows no borders and as such requires strong international
cooperation. In closing, the Ambassador highlighted the
availability of U.S. training programs and seminars for La
Rioja's legal and law enforcement professionals. The
Ambassador noted that Argentine judges and district attorneys
from Buenos Aires City, Buenos Aires province, and Cordoba
province have received such training. The Governor noted
that some La Rioja police personnel have attended law
enforcement seminars in the United States and would welcome
additional training opportunities. He said he has worked
hard to improve anti-trafficking efforts by provincial law
enforcement and judicial authorities.

--------
BIO Note
--------

6. (SBU) Of Lebanese descent, Beder Herrera was born on May
26, 1951 in Campanas, La Rioja. A lawyer by training,
Herrera was elected governor in August 2007 with 42.44
percent of the vote under the electoral coalition Front for
the People, beating the Victory Front's (FpV) candidate
Ricardo Quintela by 15 percent of the votes. In early 2007,
then vice-governor Beder Herrera encouraged impeachment
proceedings on allegations of improper performance of public
office against then-Governor Angel Maza, who was later
impeached. Beder Herrera then replaced Maza as interim
governor and called for elections. The Governor is married
and has two children.

7. (SBU) Comment: The meeting provided a useful opportunity
to hear the perspective of a Peronist party meber outside of
the capital city. The governor's interest in heightened U.S.
investment in his province and his specific request to locate
U.S. firms interested in mineral exploitation is a potential
avenue for greater commercial cooperation.

WAYNE

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