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Cablegate: Argentina's Hopes to Overcome Uruguay's Objections

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBU #1717/01 3540935
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 190935Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2721
INFO RUCNMER/MERCOSUR COLLECTIVE
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 1834
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 1913
RUEHGE/AMEMBASSY GEORGETOWN 0034
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA 2371
RUEHPO/AMEMBASSY PARAMARIBO 0020
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 1127
RUEHUB/USINT HAVANA 0090

UNCLAS BUENOS AIRES 001717

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL SENV ECON PHUM CU AR
SUBJECT: ARGENTINA'S HOPES TO OVERCOME URUGUAY'S OBJECTIONS
TO NESTOR KIRCHNER QUASHED AT BRAZIL UNASUR MEETING; CFK
PLANS VISIT TO CUBA

REF: BUENOS AIRES 1595 AND PREVIOUS

1. (SBU) The Argentine press on December 17 focused on the
failure by President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner to
achieve what had previously been described by Administration
sources to the press (and to the Embassy) as her top priority
for the December 16-17 regional summit meetings in Brazil:
the selection of her husband and former President Nestor
Kirchner (NK) as Secretary General for the South American
Union of Nations (Unasur). Instead, Uruguayan President
Tabare Vazquez remained unbending in his objection, and
several nations (including Chile and Paraguay) reportedly
rejected the proposal supported by Venezuela and Ecuador to
abandon the requirement for consensus among Unasur members in
the selection of a Secretary General. The question was put
off until April, 2009, with Chilean Foreign Minister Foxley
saying that if consensus was not achieved then it would be
time to consider another candidate (a sentiment also
implicitly expressed by Paraguayan President Lugo, according
to the press).

2. (U) One local columnist, Mariano Obarrio of La Nacion,
reported that the GOA also believed that Colombia and Peru
were opposed to NK's candidacy and were supported in this by
the United States. Another columnist, Eduardo van der Kooy
of "Clarin," opined that the Kirchners' diminished political
standing in Argentina had made Vazquez's rejection easier to
sustain.

3. (SBU) GOA sources and press reports over the weekend of
December 13-14 described continuing GOA efforts to secure
NK's selection, including a direct dialogue with Uruguay to
assuage President Vazquez's objections based on Argentina's
continuing failure to end the two-year old roadblock by
Argentine protesters of the Gualeguaychu to Fray Bentos
bridge across the Uruguay river (reftel). Argentine media
reported that Uruguayan Foreign Minister Gonzalo Fernandez
said Uruguay would quit Unasur if the grouping ignored GOU
objections and decided to select Kirchner by some means other
than consensus.

4. (U) In a related development, Entre Rios Governor Sergio
Urribarri, a member of the Kirchners' political coalition, on
December 14 was reported in the press to have stated that
there was no evidence that the controversial Botnia pulp mill
on the Uruguayan side of the river Uruguay river was
polluting the river and that the protesters who had shut down
the international bridge at Gualeyguaychu therefore had no
justification for continuing to block traffic. Gualeguaychu
mayor Juan Jose Bahillo sharply disputed this statement the
following day, citing a study sponsored by the municipality
based on Botnia's public disclosures. Urribarri responded
again on the 16th, reiterating that the blockades needed to
be lifted.

To Cuba
-------

5. (U) Following a meeting with Hugo Chavez and Raul Castro
on the 16th, President Fernandez de Kirchner (CFK) announced
in Brazil that she will travel to Cuba in early 2009,
reportedly in the January 12-15 timeframe. CFK said that "we
are going to reaffirm our historic ties of friendship with
Cuba."

6. (U) The following day, December 17, CFK called publicly
for an end to the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba by the incoming
Obama administration. "We are hopeful that the new
Administration of Obama will take a different view of Latin
America and will take measures that diminish tension and will
end the blockade (sic), which is a disgraceful policy."
According to newspaper La Nacion, CFK brushed aside reporter
Mariano Obarrio's question over how the GOA would deal with
the case of dissident Cuban doctor Hilda Molina, whose
request for a passport from her government to visit family in
Argentina has been a bilateral issue for several years.
Obarrio quoted GOA sources drawing the U.S. embargo into the
Molina case, suggesting that Raul Castro needed a signal from
the U.S. on the trade embargo before he would have the
political strength to address brother Fidel's harder line on
Molina.

7. (U) La Nacion contacted Dr. Molina in Cuba and printed a
short interview with the dissident in which she asked that
CFK, "with her history of defending human rights, not forget
my case." Asked whether she thought the GOC refusal was
related to a fear that she would speak out against the regime
while abroad, Molina said that "the political, critical Hilda
Molina, who will continue criticizing the Government of Cuba,
lives in Cuba. I wish to go to Argentina as a mother and
grandmother."
WAYNE

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