Cablegate: Regional President Yehude Simon: Moving Ahead On

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

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 LIMA 002185


E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/11/2015

Classified By: Ambassador Curtis Struble for Reason 1.4 (B, D)

1. (C) SUMMARY. Lambayeque Regional President Yehude Simon
briefed the Ambassador 5/4 on the extensive consultations he
has carried out to smooth the way for the SOUTHCOM New
Horizons Exercise anticipated for next year. Simon expressed
confidence he would win a referendum on creating a northern
macro-region together with Piura and Tumbes; he said this
would speed the pace of foreign investment, with the U.S.
being welcome to participate. Simon voiced support for the
Andean Free Trade Agreement, although he has concerns with
agriculture and IPR. He said it was very unlikely he would
run for President of Peru in 2006. END SUMMARY.

2. (U) The Ambassador met with Lambayeque Regional President
Yehude Simon in Chiclayo on May 4. Simon began by expressing
satisfaction with the nine-day MEDRETE (Medical Readiness
Training Exercise) being carried out in Chiclayo and environs
by the 96th Medical Group from Maxwell Air Force Base. Simon
explained that he had not visited the exercise himself
because he didn't want to politicize the event by giving the
impression he was taking credit for it. Nonetheless, he had
seen to it that the MEDRETE was well-publicized, and had
publicly voiced his support for the initiative.

3. (C) Simon also commented on his efforts to prepare the way
for the SOUTHCOM New Horizons Exercise (NH-06) which may take
place the second half of next year. He said he had consulted
with Defense Minister Chiabra and with the local military
commander, and felt he had a good rapport with each. He has
also reached out to NGOs, in particular Peru Solidarity Forum
(which has done important work in Lambayeque with European
and Japanese donors), and the Legal Defense Institute (IDL).
He said IDL head Ernesto de la Jara supported carrying out
NH-06 in Lambayeque, as did Social Democratic Party leader
Susana Villaran.

4. (C) Simon said the congressional delegation from
Lambayeque was also on board, and even leftist Congessman
Javier Diez Canseco, although opposed to NH-06, would not
undermine it. (NOTE: Diez Canseco was primarily responsible
for torpedoing a proposed New Horizons Exercise in 2003,
denouncing it as an attempt to establish a U.S. military base
in Peru's coca zone. END NOTE.) In discussions with local
mayors and school directors, Simon said he had received an
85-90 percent positive response. Once a public announcement
of NH-06 became imminent, he also intended to brief a
sympathetic group of media executives. The Ambassador
confirmed that planning for NH-06 was still on track, and
that once all of the funding commitments were secured
(hopefully in the near future), we would be prepared to join
in a public roll-out.

5. (SBU) The Ambassador asked about prospects for creating a
macro-region in the north, which would lend a measure of
unity to the regional governments' dealings with the national
government. He said that in a visit to neighboring
Cajamarca, he had noted differences between the attitudes of
regional officials, who opposed a macro-region, and local
businessmen, who saw the need for integration. Simon said
that the referendum on a macro-region was set to take place
in October, and that this would include participation by
Cajamarca, since a sufficient number of voters had signed on
to petitions.

6. (C) Simon said he had always had two strategies for the
formation of a macro-region, one looking east toward
Cajamarca and Amazonas, and the other looking north to Piura
and Tumbes. No matter what happened with Cajamarca, he
expected the fusion with Piura and Tumbes to take place,
despite initial opposition at the national level from the
APRA party, which controls both regional presidencies. APRA
sees Simon's Humanist Movement as a serious political
competitor in the north. APRA leader Alan Garcia had, Simon
asserted, thought he could block the macro-region but was
estranged from fellow party member Cesar Trelles, Regional
President of Piura. Trelles decided to buck orders from
above. Garcia now understood his poor position and had just
asked to meet with Simon. (The latter had agreed, but the
meeting hadn't taken place at the time of the Ambassador's
meeting with Simon.) Simon felt a macro-regional
administration would speed even further the growing pace of
foreign investment in northern Peru, and said he welcomes
greater U.S. presence as part of this process.

7. (C) The Ambassador gave an overview of the status of
negotiations on the Andean Free Trade Agreement (FTA). Simon
said he had some concerns about how the FTA would affect
agriculture and intellectual property rights, but overall he
was a supporter. He said he had told Prime Minister Ferrero
that the GOP needs to do a better job of coordinating its
message on the FTA, and he emphasized the need to focus on
the implementation phase, in particular to ensure that fears
about small companies being eaten up by larger ones are not

8. (C) The Ambassador asked about the 2006 presidential race,
and whether an electoral coalition might develop under the
leadership of ex-President Valentin Paniagua (Popular Action
Party - AP). Simon said he had spoken to Paniagua three days
earlier. Simon's analysis was that Paniagua was an honest
man and was seen as a conciliator, but his party was weak,
and brought very little to the table in terms of being able
to lead a coalition. The conventional wisdom in Peru,
however, was that parties win elections, not coalitions.
Paniagua had told Simon that despite his personal interest in
a coalition, his backers in AP, particularly party President
Victor Andres Garcia Belaunde, wanted to go it alone,
calculating it would enhance their Congressional

9. (C) Simon said he was aware of the interest in his own
plans for 2006 and whether he would take a "leap into the
void" of a presidential campaign, but commented that this was
very unlikely. His priority was to fortify what he had begun
with the regional government, gain more experience in guiding
a sucessful administration in Lambayeque, and work to build
the Humanist Party's strength in local elections. Susana
Villaran and Drago Kisic (President of the National
Independent Party) had urged him to head up a national
ticket; he intended to remain allied with them, but said
there was little chance he would run for President.

10. (C) COMMENT: As chief executive of the Lambayeque
Region, Yehude Simon gets rave reviews from all save his most
entrenched political opponents. He is a committed and
compassionate leftist, but a practical manager as well, who
seeks out private investment as a means to improve the lot of
the region's populace. His political standing makes him an
ideal choice for hosting the New Horizons Exercise. Simon's
inclination toward sitting out the 2006 presidential election
is probably sound, as he needs more seasoning and national
exposure to be ready for prime time. END COMMENT.

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