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Cablegate: Rio de Janeiro Mayor-Elect's Plans for the City

VZCZCXRO6899
RR RUEHRG
DE RUEHRI #0300/01 3021621
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 281621Z OCT 08
FM AMCONSUL RIO DE JANEIRO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4682
INFO RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 1013
RUEHSO/AMCONSUL SAO PAULO 5203
RUEHRG/AMCONSUL RECIFE 3472

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 RIO DE JANEIRO 000300

SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/BSC

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV BR
SUBJECT: RIO DE JANEIRO MAYOR-ELECT'S PLANS FOR THE CITY

REF: BRASILIA 1414

1. As reported in reftel, former Rio de Janeiro State Secretary for
Sports and Tourism Eduardo Paes (PMDB Party) won the October 26
run-off election for Mayor of Rio de Janeiro, edging out Fernando
Gabeira (Green Party - PV) by less than one percentage point.
Endorsements by Rio de Janeiro Governor Sergio Cabral and President
Lula helped him get elected but have also set up expectations that
Paes will be able to unite city, state and federal resources to
revitalize the city of Rio de Janeiro. Highlights from his platform
follow below. It remains to be seen how Mayor-elect Paes will
prioritize these issues in his administration.

PUBLIC SECURITY AND CRIME

2. Combating Rio's declining public security situation is a state
responsibility, rather than a municipal one. Paes will likely defer
to his close friend and ally Governor Cabral on operational
security, choosing to focus more on the optics as it relates to the
city's reputation and public image. He will control a small unarmed
patrol force of Municipal Guard officers, who are most visible in
tourist areas, and for whom he has advocated for additional
equipment and training resources. He promises additional remote
cameras in highly trafficked areas, especially around Copacabana
Beach, and has pledged resources to protect the elderly and gay
communities in particular.

SOCIAL PROJECTS AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT

3. Mayor-elect Paes wants to expand the federal government's PAC
(Program to Accelerate Growth) program to the poorer areas in Rio's
north. In addition, he has pledged to partner with private industry
as well as the state and federal governments on an ambitious housing
and urban development plan. Paes proposes to spend USD 25 million
per year on construction of public housing to relocate people from
Rio's shantytown favelas, allocate additional funds to existing
social projects in favelas, re-zone abandoned industrial areas for
residential use, and build additional homeless shelters. He has
identified the neighborhoods around the Maracana sports arena and
the port complex as priorities for urban revitalization.

HEALTH

4. The new mayor plans to expand the city's pilot program of
community health care centers. He proposes to build 40 additional
centers, especially in the city's poorer north area. He plans to
allocate resources to renovate existing municipal hospitals, upgrade
equipment, and hire additional health care professionals. Also, he
proposes 5 new rehabilitation centers for the physically
handicapped, 20 new centers for elderly people, and 3 new centers to
treat obesity. Recognizing that another dengue fever epidemic
threatens Rio de Janeiro this year, he is calling for a Dengue Fever
Task Force to improve the city's emergency response plan.

EDUCATION

5. A popular Paes campaign proposal was the elimination of the
city's current policy in public schools to automatically promote
students to the next grade regardless of performance. Paes promises
to increase resources for teacher salaries and training, and to fund
more technical/vocational training and sports programs as
after-school alternatives for children. He also proposes to
provide free public transportation for students, increase the number
of city-run day care centers, and create a Municipal Fun to support
to support educational research.


TRANSPORTATION

6. Public transportation reform was one of Paes' main issues on the
campaign trail. He is proposing significant changes to improve the
city's congested transportation system and expand service to the
outer suburbs. His plan includes a proposal to regulate pirated
taxi/van services which are believed to play a role in funding
organized criminal activity. In particular, Paes appears focused on
linking the poorer west and north areas of the city (his political
base) to the downtown and affluent southern neighborhoods where many
of those community members work. To accomplish this, he is
proposing to reorganize and re-license the city's 400-plus bus
routes, augmenting them with regulated van service. Most
significantly, Paes proposes to institute a single fare system which
would include all transfers within a certain time period. He
supports the state government's plan to extend one of the metro
lines, and wants to invest USD 500 million in additional lines to
expand service to the city's outer suburbs in the west. He has
promised a renovated fleet of handicap accessible and fuel efficient
trains and buses.

TOURISM, CULTURE AND SPORTS EVENTS

RIO DE JAN 00000300 002 OF 002

7. From his recent position as State Secretary for Sports and
Tourism, Paes has a solid understanding of the city's reliance on
tourism revenue. He will offer incentives for companies to build
and operate hotels, especially in the growing area of Barra da
Tijuca in the city's west. He plans to privatize administration of
Rio's new performing arts center, currently under construction at a
cost of USD 400 million, and schedule up to twelve major cultural
events in Rio per month. He has pledged to continue the current
model for managing the city's Carnival festivities. Mayor-elect
Paes also sees himself at the forefront of Rio's public relations
initiative, serving as the city's primary lobbying to major event
and sporting competition organizers. This role will be important in
alleviating concerns about declining public security, given the
city's preparations to host the 2014 World Cup Finals and its bid to
host the 2016 Olympics.

COMMENT

8. This election was the closest in Rio de Janeiro's history, with
Eduardo Paes winning by just 55,225 votes. It highlights the
political and economic divide between the different areas of the
city. For example, Gabeira won the city's affluent south zone by a
decisive margin, as well as the areas in the city's north and
center. Paes won the city's highly populated poorer west zone. He
also received support from the protestant churches and some of the
catholic community, with the help of Senator Francisco Dornelles.

9. In total, around 1 million people (20 percent of registered
voters) didn't go to the polls, and Paes likely benefited from the
low voter turnout. Allegations have surfaced that Governor Cabral
purposefully declared the Monday following election Sunday as a
public holiday rather than the actual day (two days later) to
encourage some potential Gabeira voters to take advantage of the
long weekend to travel, and thus not vote. Paes' victory was slim,
but Rio residents appear willing to give him a chance to prove that
he can transform his endorsements from Governor Cabral and President
Lula into more state and federal resources for the city.

MARTINEZ

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