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Cablegate: Argentine Former President Kirchner's Bid to Head Unasur

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RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBU #1595 3291337
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 241337Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2524
INFO RUCNMER/MERCOSUR COLLECTIVE
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 1827
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 1901
RUEHGE/AMEMBASSY GEORGETOWN 0033
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA 2351
RUEHPO/AMEMBASSY PARAMARIBO 0019
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 1121
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS BUENOS AIRES 001595

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV AR
SUBJECT: Argentine Former President Kirchner's Bid to Head Unasur
Blocked by Uruguay

REF: Buenos Aires 1149

1. (U) Leading daily "La Nacion" reported November 20 that the GOA
would abandon its effort to win regional backing for former
President Nestor Kirchner as head of the South American Union of
Nations (Unasur). Argentine sources indicated that Uruguayan
President Tabare Vasquez's rejection of Kirchner was to blame,
noting that the position requires unanimous support from the twelve
countries of South America. Nonetheless, unidentified Kirchner
associates told daily financial paper "El Cronista," published
November 21, that in fact Kirchner was not giving up (and presumably
had the support of President Fernandez de Kirchner in this
decision).

2. (SBU) On November 20 a private Argentine close to the Casa Rosada
told Ambassador and DCM that Kirchner wanted to continue his
campaign to lead Unasur. He said the Argentines would try to get
Uruguay President Vasquez to lift his "veto." But he asked if
Colombia and Peru would still block Kirchner if Uruguay changed its
position, citing rumors of their opposition to his candidacy.
Ambassador said he had no idea what positions these two governments
might ake on the question.

3. (U) In October, Argentine Foreign Ministry sources had labeled
Uruguay's rejection of Kirchner as an "insult" to Argentina and to
those countries that had supported Kirchner's candidacy. Of note,
there has been no evident follow-up by Argentina on suggestions
reportedly made by President Fernandez de Kirchner in September that
the GOA would seek to re-open the binational bridge that has been
closed for the last two years by Argentine activists protesting the
alleged environmental damage caused by the Botnia paper mill in
Uruguay. The bridge spans the Uruguay river between Argentina
(Gualeguaychu) and Uruguay (Fray Bento) and is (or was) the border
crossing closest to Buenos Aires.

4. (U) Although the "La Nacion" and "Cronista" pieces both noted
that the Governments of Peru and Colombia were also thought to be
concerned over the prospect of Nestor Kirchner leading Unasur, those
governments had not made public statements to that effect. Uruguay
therefore is the current focus of GOA ill-will. A November 10 "La
Nacion" piece went so far as to suggest that Argentine support
within the G-20 for measures against financial safehavens was based
on a desire to get back at Uruguay by limiting Argentine capital
movements across the Rio de la Plata.

5. (U) "La Nacion" reported November 21 that Uruguayan FM Gonzalo
Fernandez claimed there were several South American countries
opposed to Kirchner's candidacy, but they had privately agreed to
let Uruguay "pay the price" for blocking him. According to "La
Nacion," Fernandez said the GOU expected GOA reprisals.

6. (SBU) Comment: Former President Kirchner, by many accounts the
principal shadow economic policy-maker in his wife's government, has
of late reemerged publicly and taken on an increasingly high profile
in political events. His responsibilities as Peronist party leader
will also begin to increase as the country approaches 2009 mid-term
elections. Whether or not the GOA abandons his candidacy to head
Unasur, we doubt that it would receive the greater part of his
attention in any case, particularly given Kirchner's well-known
distaste for protocol and international travel.

WAYNE

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