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Cablegate: Special Envoy Reich's Meeting with Jose Dirceu

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/23/2014



Classified By: CG PATRICK DUDDY for reasons 1.5(B) and (D).

1. (C) SUMMARY. White House Special Envoy for the Western Hemisphere Otto Reich met with President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva's Chief of Staff Jose Dirceu on Sunday, March 21 at a private residence in Sao Paulo. During the course of the relaxed and open 90-minute conversation, the two touched on current events in Venezuela, Colombia, Bolivia, Cuba, Haiti and Argentina, and expressed their intent to maintain an open channel of communication. Dirceu said that the Brazilian government is deeply concerned about the situation in Venezuela and in Cuba, and that the GOB would abstain (as it has in the past) on the UNHRC motion on Cuba. Dirceu indicated that he hoped to visit the United States in the near future, perhaps as soon as Easter week, or shortly thereafter. Reich was accompanied by Special Advisor to the Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs William Perry and Consul General Patrick Duddy. Dirceu was accompanied by Andre Araujo. End Summary.

2. (C) Following the exchange of opening pleasantries, Amb. Reich raised Venezuela, noting that the United States is deeply concerned with the deteriorating situation there. Dirceu stated that Brazil is also concerned with the situation in Venezuela. He noted that Presidential Foreign Policy Advisor Marco Aurelio Garcia was recently in Venezuela, and had prepared a report for President Lula on his visit. Dirceu said he had seen it, but had not yet had the opportunity to read the report in detail. He said he expected Lula and other senior advisors would discuss Venezuela early in the week of March 22. When asked what he thought the U.S. and Brazil could do together on Venezuela, Dirceu was non-comittal, reiterating that the GOB would discuss the Venezuelan situation in the coming week. However, Dirceu's comments about Chavez's behavior during the G-15 meeting in Caracas were quite critical, and he said Lula left the meeting early because he "was uncomfortable." He added that Lula had not returned any of Chavez's calls since then, but that he would probably do so soon in order to keep the communication open, as unpleasannt as it may be.

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3. (C) On Bolivia, Reich stressed that the U.S. and Brazil have shared interests in that country, and a common interest in assisting Bolivia to maintain political stability. Reich noted his concern about the March 18 statement by a Foreign Ministry spokesman that Brazil had not attended the most recent meeting of the Bolivia Support Group in Washington because the GOB considered the meeting a "waste of time." Dirceu appeared to be surprised at hearing about the spokesman's statement, and took notes on Reich's points. He said he would talk to FM Amorim about it.

4. (SBU) Reich thanked the GOB for its willingness to help in Haiti, and to contribute peacekeeping forces. He asked Dirceu for clarification that the GOB would only participate in a UN Chapter 6 (peacekeeping), rather than a Chapter 7 (peace enforcement), mission in Haiti. Dirceu confirmed that that was correct. In response to Reich's question on whether the Brazilian deployment in Haiti could be moved forward, Dirceu was non-committal, noting only that the GOB had had financial concerns about the deployment which were being resolved. Dirceu noted that he also expected to speak to the President about Haiti during the coming week, and suggested that he might get back in touch on the issue.

5. (C) Reich raised the USG's continuing concern with the Cuban government's harsh repression of dissidents. Dirceu said that the GOB is also concerned about the situation in Cuba. He said, however, that the GOB would not "change its vote" on the Cuba motion in the upcoming UNHRC session; he said the GOB would abstain on the motion, as it has in past years. Dirceu noted that Cuba is a difficult issue for the Lula government, and a very difficult issue for him personally. (NOTE: Dirceu spent much of six years (1969-75) in exile in Cuba, after being expelled from Brazil by the military dictatorship. End Note.) Dirceu acknowledged that the Cuban government has not been receptive to private GOB overtures on treatment of detainees. He said the newly arrived Cuban Ambassador in Brasilia had refused to entertain any discussion of the issue, even in relation to a Brazilian citizen who had been arrested in Cuba for complicity in alien smuggling. Dirceu added that Lula had received the mother of the Brazilian detained in Cuba. Asked whether the Lula government would consider having Lula receive the mothers of detained Cuban dissidents as a gesture of concern, Dirceu said he would discuss the idea with others in the GOB, including the President. (COMMENT: No modalities were discussed. End Comment.)

6. (SBU) On Colombia, Dirceu noted that the GOB has a good relationship with Colombia. He said that Brazil was committed to stepped up military and police presence along Brazil's northern border, and mentioned the SIVAM Amazon surveillance system. Reich pointed out several indicators of progress in the GOC's efforts to ensure security in the country, including regaining control of all the towns previously controlled by rebel groups, significant numbers of surrenders by paramilitary members, and resumed economic growth of 4 percent in the last year. Dirceu indicated that he was aware of the improvements in the security situation in Colombia.

7. (C) Turning to Argentina, Dirceu commented that part of the problem is that it is not clear that the Kirchner government has a clear or comprehensive plan for extricating the country from its economic woes. Consequently, the government is in the position of having to "slay a lion" every week to stay out in front of impending crises. 8. (SBU) Dirceu said that he was planning to make a trip to the United States in the near future, possibly as soon as the week after Easter. He indicated interest in identifying an appropriate venue for making a speech or other public statement while there, as well as in meetings with USG officials. 9. (C) Comment. The cordial but frank exchange of views between Reich and Dirceu advanced the USG effort to maintain a robust and cooperative relationship with the GOB. While no immediate action items resulted from the meeting, Minister Dirceu said he would consult and get back in touch with Ambassador Reich on issues of mutual concern, including Venezuela, Cuba and possibly Haiti. Dirceu's comments on Haiti and Brazil's vote on the Cuba motion at the UNHRC track closely with Foreign Ministry UnderSecretary Vera Pedrosa's comments to Ambassador Hrinak on March 19, reported reftel. End Comment. 10.

(U) This message was coordinated with Embassy Brasilia and cleared by Ambassador Reich.


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