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Cablegate: Brazil: Obama's Victory Unleashes Outpouring Of

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RR RUEHRG
DE RUEHBR #1479/01 3181743
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 131743Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY BRASILIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2887
INFO RUEHRG/AMCONSUL RECIFE 8679
RUEHSO/AMCONSUL SAO PAULO 3037
RUEHRI/AMCONSUL RIO DE JANEIRO 6852
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES 5917
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RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 7196
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 0701
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 4287
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA 4024
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ 6681
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 2644
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 4785
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 BRASILIA 001479

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL ECON BR
SUBJECT: Brazil: Obama's Victory Unleashes Outpouring of
Enthusiasm and Hope

1. (SBU) Summary. Official statements and media reactions to the
election of Barack Obama have been overwhelmingly positive, and
political and opinion leaders have expressed hopes that the already
good bilateral relationship will improve. Brazilians elites have
high expectations that Obama will show more understanding in his
regional policies, that U.S. policy on Cuba will change, and that
Obama will deal effectively with the global financial crisis. Some,
however, seem to realize that their expectations are not likely to
be met fully. President Bush's name is generally absent from the
discussion, but many statements criticize current USG policies.
Brazilians, whose admiration for American democracy and culture is
enduring and strong, seem anxious to rekindle their love affair with
the U.S. and are in a mood to give Obama a long honeymoon. End
summary.

President Lula's Congratulations
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

2. (U) on November 5 President Lula issued this statement:

In the name of the Brazilian people and myself, I congratulate you
on your election as president of the United State of America. Your
victory represents an historic moment of achievement for the U.S.,
which has proved once again the transformative capacity of its
democracy and society. You knew how to transmit a vision of the
future, leadership capability and the certainty that hope is
stronger than fear.

Your choice by the American people comes at a particularly favorable
moment in Brazilian-U.S. relations. It happens, also at the
crossroads of complex challenges for the international order
intensified by the seriousness of the financial crisis that directly
affects millions of persons throughout the world.

I am certain that under your leadership the U.S. will respond to
those challenges inspired by the 'intense urgency of the present'
that Martin Luther King demanded.

I am sure, too, that the U.S. and Brazil will continue to improve
our excellent relationship, which is guided by mutual respect,
historical ties, and common values and goals.

Lula: Obama's Election Is Possible Only in a Real Democracy
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

3. (U) At a November 5 joint congressional session commemorating
the 20th anniversary of the Brazilian constitution, Lula declared
that "the election of Barack Obama to the presidency of the United
States can only be possible in a country that has democracy...It is
a reason to be happy, and few times in U.S. history has a president
aroused so much interest in his being elected...I hope there will be
an improvement in relations between Brazil and the U.S, and a [U.S.]
policy more aimed toward the development of our beloved Latin
America. I hope a way out will be found for the conflict in the
Middle East...just as I hope the blockade against Cuba will be ended
because there is no political explanation for still having a
blockade against Cuba. So we, as Brazilians, are happy with the
election, and we will be much happier still if relations between the
U.S. and our continent are improved."

Congressional Reactions
- - - - - - - - - - - - -

4. (U) Senate President Garibaldi Alves Filho (PMDB - Brazilian
Democratic Movement Party, a non-ideological party in the government
coalition; of Rio Grande do Norte), said on November 5 that Obama's
election demonstrated that the Republican policies were "wrong and
interventionist," and the new president would seek better relations
not only with Latin America but the whole world. He said that the
world is witnessing not the realization of a dream, but an
extraordinary change, and added that he hoped Obama will defeat the
financial crisis. Obama's victory, said Alves, will represent a
change not only in the U.S., but in the whole world: "No one will
remain indifferent to what the victory of a black man [elected] to
the U.S. presidency represented."

BRASILIA 00001479 002 OF 004

5. (U) Speaking in the Senate plenary chamber on November 5, Senator
Paulo Paim (PT-Workers' Party; lead party in the government
coalition; of Rio Grande do Sul), the only self-identified black
senator, called Obama's election "an almost revolutionary change,"
said it would be welcomed on all continents and by peoples of all
ethnicities and religious creeds, and the U.S. was "daring and
courageous." He described watching Obama's election on TV: "I saw
it was a magic moment. I saw in Barack Obama a universal
transformation in humanitarian policies. I see in Barack Obama the
hope and dreams that another world is possible, where man, where the
human being, is in first place." Several senators co-sponsored a
congratulatory resolution that declared that Obama arose as a
"bulwark of the political, economic, and social reforms needed in
the U.S." On November 10, Paim again spoke of Obama in the plenary,
saying, among other things, that Obama's election is a message to
black children in the U.S. that it is possible to make it to the
top.

6. (U) Other senators also made plenary speeches noting the positive
significance of Obama's election, including Arthur Virgilio (PSDB,
Amazonas), bench leader of the Social Democrats, who called Obama's
election a "breath of good democratic oxygen...a great advance," and
said Lula should make Obama aware that better relations require
breaking down protectionist practices in the trade relationship.
Senator Renato Casagrande (PSB - Brazilian Socialist Party,
government; of Espirito Santo), his party's Senate bench leader,
said Obama's election holds important symbolism for "those who still
have reactionary positions." Another positive sign, he said, is
the change in U.S. economic policy in "a country where the president
developed a very conservative economic policy, without dialogue,
without democracy, without internal debate, and now has turned
toward a policy where society will be heard." He also said he
expects less interference in the sovereignty of other states.
Senator Magno Malta (PR - Party of the Republic, government; of
Espirito Santo) characterized Obama's acceptance speech as "a pearl"
that showed a man who was emotionally moved but well-balanced.
Malta said the "euphoria of the poor" that he saw on TV reminded him
of President Lula's election, when he also felt a great hope for
better economic conditions for the disadvantaged. Senator Eduardo
Suplicy (PT; of Sao Paulo) said on November 11 that Obama would soon
"put an end to the wall that separates the U.S. from Mexico and the
rest of Latin America."

Selected Media Reaction
- - - - - - - - - - - -

7. (U) Brazilian media gave Obama's election extensive and positive
coverage; he was on the cover of major news magazines and major
dailies published entire supplements about him in. Columnists and
commentators wrote enthusiastic praise for Obama and the many
meanings of his election. The comment by Zuenir Ventura, columnist
for O Globo, on November 8 was typical. Obama's victory was "the
beginning of the 21st century of our dreams, not of the Twin
Towers...No one had broken so many taboos, brought down so many
barriers and walls, and undone so many stereotypes...In times of
anti-terror paranoia, he made people forget the polemics over his
supposed Muslim family ties and he popularized a strange name that,
evoking the sound of two enemies of the fatherland -- Osama bin
Laden and Saddam Hussein - sounded suspect, almost a provocation.
Weren't Americans famous for being lazy about voting? Well, he made
everybody get out of the house and break voting records. Weren't
young people apathetic and depoliticized? Well, he pulled them away
from in front of the computer to help get him elected. We know that
this is but little before the challenges he will have before him.
It is not going to be easy to re-found an empire tired from war, in
decline, and to reinstitute respect for a democracy that stained its
image installing torture centers in Abu Ghraib and
Guantanamo...After he revolutionized the way to come to power,
people expect Barack Obama to make a revolution in how he governs.
And changing the U.S., he will change the world. 'Yes, we can,' was
his promise."

8. (U) Merval Pereira, political columnist for Rio de Janeiro's O
Globo, was among the few to strike a measured tone: he said on
November 8 that President Lula is mistaken in thinking that Obama's

BRASILIA 00001479 003 OF 004


election is part of a larger movement that originated in South
America with the election of Hugo Chavez, Evo Morales and so on, and
no one believes the region is going to become a priority for the
U.S. as long as there is so much to attend to in the global economy
and foreign affairs. Pereira recounts points from a post-election
conversation with Antonio Patriota, Brazil's ambassador to the U.S.
Patriota expects the bilateral relationship, already very vigorous,
will become even stronger, and does not believe a Democratic
congress will block an improvement in trade relations since it
already approved the biofuels memorandum of understanding. Patriota
also cited the CEO Forum and the Joint Action Plan Against Racial
Discrimination as proof of ongoing programs of common bilateral
interest, and said Brazil is not uncomfortable with the relationship
with the U.S., pointing to Brazil's prestigious position with the
U.S. as one of only a handful of strategic partners. Pereira also
says analysts believe a turnabout in U.S. farm policy to be almost
impossible because Obama promised to maintain farm subsidies.

9. (U) Folha de S. Paulo financial editor Sergio Malbergier wrote in
his online column on November 5, "Obama is a global phenomenon; his
victory reflects not only the choice of the majority of Americans,
but the majority of human beings... One of the damning legacies of
Bushism, perhaps the worst one, is an acute and stupid
anti-Americanism... Americans could not have given a better answer
to the world (and to Bushism) than to usher Michelle and Barack
Obama into the White House. That does not mean that his outstanding
electoral victory...will guarantee a happy ending to the sad record
of George W. Bush in Washington... But the global satisfaction with
the inspiring accomplishment by Obama gives some hope to a world
that is slowing down, almost stagnant. Let's cheer Obama and what
his impressive victory represents. Today, we are all Americans."

10. (U) Obama "carried the weight of the world" during his victory
celebration, but responded with a "sober speech, in which he
promised to unite the country and underscored the difficulties that
lie ahead." Valor Economico, November 7.

11. (U) "Realistic hope" (editorial)
"With each passing day, the expectation of those who voted for him
rises, along with his responsibility in the face of the economic
crisis... The Senator needs to start acting quickly... Arrogance and
unilateralism are no longer pillars for decision making. They will
by necessity be substituted by quick and pragmatic action. [The]
upcoming international conference to discuss ways out of the
crisis... is Obama's first great opportunity. ...this moment of
festive commotion surrounding his victory needs to be over quickly
so that it can be remembered as an instant of happiness, and not the
beginning of a collective delusion." Jornal do Brasil, November 7.

12. (U) Former Brazilian Ambassador to the U.S. Rubens Barbosa,
like Merval Pereira, was among the realists trying to rein in
expectations when wrote in an op-ed in Estado de S. Paulo on
November 11 that "relations with Latin America and Brazil should not
undergo any change. Latin America will continue to be off the radar
screen of Washington decision-makers. Not representing a national
security threat and not being an attractive area for investment, the
area will remain a low priority in foreign policy...Brazil will
continue to occupy a differentiated position as a privileged
interlocutor of the U.S..." Barbosa saw in Obama's victory the end
of the Reagan era and a voter response to new challenges such as the
environment, human rights, and the mortgage crisis, strengthened by
the mass participation of young and minority voters.

Comment: Great Expectations, Rekindled Admiration
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

13. (SBU) The enthusiasm from political leaders and media is an
outpouring of genuine joy over the election of a mixed-race man in a
country that, paraphrasing Secretary Rice, is more like Brazil than
any other, a new world country of immigrant traditions and ethnic
and racial diversity. Obama's victory gives Brazilians hope that
their country, too, can also break down the last barriers to
minority achievement. But we also see expressions of hope that U.S.
policies will change and that the U.S. itself will become more
pacific, more modest, and more conciliatory. Even many Brazilians
realize that their great expectations are unrealistic: IstoE

BRASILIA 00001479 004 OF 004


magazine asked on its latest cover "Can this man save America and
the world?" and the headline on inside pages was "A redeemer in the
White House?" Some commentators already see likely trouble spots -
trade, Cuba, farm policy, as well as a failure make Brazil and Latin
America a top priority - but Brazilians, whose admiration for
American democracy and culture is enduring and strong, seem anxious
to rekindle their love affair with the U.S. and are in a mood to
give Obama a long honeymoon.

SOBEL

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