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Cablegate: Argentina: Kirchner Ally Admits Receiving Cuban

VZCZCXYZ0016
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBU #1715 3531940
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 181940Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2719
INFO RUCNMER/MERCOSUR COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHMCSUU/FBI WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

UNCLAS BUENOS AIRES 001715

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL VZ CU AR
SUBJECT: ARGENTINA: KIRCHNER ALLY ADMITS RECEIVING CUBAN
FUNDS TO FINANCE 2005 COUNTER-SUMMIT OF THE AMERICAS

REF: A. BUENOS AIRES 1672
B. BUENOS AIRES 1550 AND PREVIOUS

1. (SBU) Argentine journalist Gerardo Young alleges in his
new book that street activist ("piquetero," literally meaning
"picketer") Luis D'Elia successfully evaded security at
Argentina's Ezeiza international airport in late October 2005
to bring in USD 1 million from Cuba to finance the
"counter-summit" to the November 2005 Summit of the Americas
in Mar del Plata attended by President Bush. At the time,
D'Elia did not have a formal government position, but he was
a government ally who, a few months later, was named Under
Secretary of Land and Housing, a portfolio created for him by
former President Nestor Kirchner, according to local press.
Although D'Elia no longer holds a government post, he has an
office in the GOA's new National Commission of Land and
Housing (former Undersecretariat for Land and Housing), where
he conducts daily meetings and acts as de facto chief
managing a government budget of 14,500,000 pesos
(approximately USD 4.2 million), according to a March 2008
article from leading daily La Nacion.

2. (SBU) The December 6 and 13 editions of the Argentine
weekly magazine, "Noticias," provide details on Young's new
book about D'Elia called "Black against White." (Comment:
This title is a play on words, as in the past D'Elia,
identifying himself as black, has made strident remarks
against the opulent, urban, "white" class.) According to
Young, D'Elia and Kirchnerista deputy Miguel Bonasso traveled
to Cuba in October 2005 to get funding to mobilize 80,000 of
Argentina's poor to participate in the "counter-summit." (He
actually succeeded in transporting 30,000 to 40,000 to Mar
del Plata, according to "Noticias" December 6 article). On
October 23, 2005, D'Elia, accompanied by Bonasso and various
Cuban military officials, returned to Buenos Aires on a
12-passenger Air Jet rented by Venezuela, Young asserts.

3. (SBU) In a December 13 interview in "Noticias," D'Elia
admits that he received USD 1 million from Cuba but denies
that he brought the money into the country and when pressed
on who transported the cash speculates that it could have
been a diplomat. He also asserts that he did not keep any of
the money for himself, using all of it to pay for 2,000 buses
to transport the demonstrators and to distribut to militants
of his piquetero group, Federation of Land and Housing, and
to other participating social organizations. Young charges
that D'Elia gave USD 50,000 to 100,000 to leaders of various
social organizations in exchange for their promise to assist
in mobilizing thousands of Argentines to Mar del Plata.

4. (SBU) Comment: Although the allegations of foreign
influence and money laundering are similar to those levied in
the 2007 Antonini Wilson "valijagate" case (reftels), to
date, Young's findings have not generated the same media
frenzy. But if the allegations are true, the case
underscores the willingness of some in the GOA to accept or
to turn a blind eye to third country support for foreign cash
to bankroll government allies. This includes paying
piqueteros to participate in government-sponsored rallies and
protests, such as the counter-summit in 2005 and the
pro-government rally against the rural sector in July. As
the Kirchners' popularity wanes, their need to rely on
professional picketers to demonstrate support for their
political agenda, and hence their need for easy cash at their
disposal, will likely continue.

WAYNE

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