Cablegate: Thousands of Argentines Learn About U.S. Electoral

DE RUEHBU #1547/01 3171401
P 121401Z NOV 08



E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Thousands of Argentines Learn about U.S. Electoral
Process through Embassy Election Events

Ref: BUENOS AIR 00001544


1. Intense Argentine interest in the U.S. election provided
post with an opportunity to enhance relations with important
contacts, numerous schools, and the media. Post reached over 10
million Argentines through media coverage of our election events
-- the widest and most positive media coverage generated by the
Mission in recent memory. The Mission also carried out 43
presentations on the elections throughout Argentina, reaching
thousands of (mostly young) Argentines, as well as generating
additional favorable press coverage. END SUMMARY.

2,000-+ Argentines Participated in Election Presentations
--------------------------------------------- -----

2. Over two thousand Argentines throughout the country
participated in Mission-provided presentations on the U.S
elections. Twenty-three FSO and specialist volunteers provided
43 presentations on U.S. elections at 14 universities, 21 high
schools, three NGOs, and four bi-national centers, as well as a
presentation to 22 Argentine congressional representatives who
were to observe the elections in the States. Because the effort
was exceptionally successful, post plans to continue public
outreach through discussions of the transition process, as well
as other topics of interest relating to our society.

3. Post also sponsored a mock debate at the University of
Belgrano in Buenos Aires. Two students, who were chosen by their
classmates as candidates, played the roles of Obama and McCain.
The entire class was involved, either as officials of the
respective parties or as active town hall participants. The
students enjoyed the debate, and the young man who played McCain
(gestures and all) said that although he had previously been
pro-Obama, he was now more sympathetic to McCain's views. Minds
opened, and the class learned a great deal about the U.S.
electoral process.

Four Hundred Argentines Enjoy Speaker Program

4. Post hosted five highly-engaging speaker programs involving
visiting U.S. experts. Professor Carol Darr of George
Washington University spoke in person on "The Impact of the
Internet on the US Elections." Post also hosted four DVCs: on
"Impact of Presidential Elections in the US Foreign Policy,"
"Influence of the Hispanic Vote in the US Presidential
Elections," "Presidential Candidates' Platforms," and "An Update
on the US Elections."

Legislators Observing Elections Hosted by Ambassador Wayne
--------------------------------------------- ----------

5. Ambassador Wayne hosted 23 Argentine officials, including
several members of Congress, who were traveling to the U.S. to
observe the U.S. elections on October 30. During the morning
event hosted at his residence, Mission's IO provided an overview
(with the aid of the IIP PowerPoint) on the presidential
campaign and electoral process. Mission's POLCOUNS also
provided an election presentation to members of this group
before their departure.

Embassy Election Project Targets Largest Mass Audience
--------------------------------------------- --------

6. Post sponsored a TV Co-op on Elections with Argentina's top
television station. From October 27 through November 5, Channel
13/Todo Noticias (TN) anchor and international columnist Andres
Repetto aired numerous interviews, stand-ups, live feeds, and
news flashes as part of his TV Co-op program on the U.S.
elections from Washington, D.C., Florida (Orlando and Miami),
and Illinois (Chicago). Countless broadcasts went out on open-
air Channel 13's prime-time national news program, Telenoche (#1
in Argentina, with an audience of over 2 million) and on the 24-
hour cable news network Todo Noticias (TN). In-depth and
thorough coverage of the Obama and McCain final rallies, minute-
by-minute developments on election night, and commentary live
from Senator Obama's victory speech aired November 5.

7. Mr. Repetto maintained an excellent daily journal in his
personal blog, which carried his experiences on the last days of
the campaign trail, his impressions and references to the TV
Coop program. Not only did thousands of people visit the blog,
but cable network TN also advertised it on the air.

Election Night Event Reaches 10 Million Argentines
--------------------------------------------- -----

8. U.S. Embassy's election night party (ref BUENOS AIR 00001544)

BUENOS AIR 00001547 002 OF 002

attracted the widest and most positive media coverage
of any Embassy event held in Argentina in recent memory. Hosted
by the Embassy at the American Club of Buenos Aires on the
evening of November 4 and morning of November 5, the celebration
of democracy at its best included a mock vote by Argentine
citizens, remarks by the CDA, a mock debate by (well-informed
Argentine graduate students posing as) Obama and McCain, and a
contest to guess the outcome of elections in battleground states
and the total number of electoral votes garnered by the winning
candidate. The impact in Argentine television, radio, Internet,
and press media was considerable, allowing us to transmit a
message of optimism about American democracy and the future of
the bilateral relationship to an estimated 10 million
Argentines. One radio station broadcast an interview with the
CDA that reached 600 stations throughout the hemisphere. TV
interviews with the CDA and other Mission personnel continued to
air all over the country for days afterward, including a thirty-
minute program on the Embassy event that aired on an open-air TV
channel last weekend.

9. In addition, an op-ed piece by Ambassador Wayne was placed
in Clarin, the largest circulation Spanish-language paper in the
hemisphere, on November 5, and the CDA gave four consecutive
radio interviews the same morning.

IRC Weekly Election Alert

10. Starting in August, the IRC produced a weekly alert on the
elections with links to news, polls, analysis, and documents
from a variety of sources, including IIP, think tanks, polling
organizations, and political experts. The alerts included
materials on the electoral process, party platforms and
conventions, the candidates and their positions on different
issues, transcripts of debates, and the campaign and the media,
among other topics. The alerts were distributed to 1,745
Embassy contacts.


11. The U.S. elections provided Embassy Buenos Aires with many
valuable opportunities to reach numerous audiences with
information about one of the pillars of our democracy: our
electoral process. The linkages made with schools, NGOs, and
the Argentine public will be important as we continue public
outreach on other topics of interest, including the transition
period. We have begun a dialog with many new organizations and
contacts that post can build on in the future, as we mobilize
our entire Mission staff to contribute to our top Mission goal -
- increasing understanding of and sympathy for the United States
in Argentina. The enormous and positive media coverage on our
nation's compelling presidential election has helped contribute
to an enhanced U.S. image here in Argentina. We intend to
maintain the pace of our effort to keep this positive public
diplomacy momentum going.


© Scoop Media

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