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Cablegate: Argentina: Top Political Leaders From Key Province

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PP RUEHCD RUEHGA RUEHGD RUEHHA RUEHHO RUEHMC RUEHQU RUEHTM RUEHVC
DE RUEHBU #2122/01 2612043
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 182043Z SEP 06
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5939
INFO RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CJCS WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEABND/DEA HQS WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUCNMRC/WESTERN HEMISPHERIC AFFAIRS DIPL POSTS
RUEHMD/AMEMBASSY MADRID 1716

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BUENOS AIRES 002122

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA TOM SHANNON, JOHN MAISTO, AND CHARLES SHAPIRO
NSC FOR DAN FISK
TREASURY FOR DAS NANCY LEE
USCINCSO FOR POLAD

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/15/2016
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL AR
SUBJECT: ARGENTINA: TOP POLITICAL LEADERS FROM KEY PROVINCE
ON POLITICS AND ECONOMY

REF: A. 02 BUENOS AIRES 02403
B. BUENOS AIRES 00293

Classified By: CDA, a.i., Michael Matera, Reasons 1.4(b) and (d)

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: On September 13, Charge and Poloff met
with leading Peronist from Santa Fe province, Senator Carlos
Reutemann, and Poloff met separately with leading candidate
for Governor of Santa Fe, Socialist Hermes Binner. Reutemann
said that Kirchner will continue to succeed politically as
long as the economy remained strong. Reutemann noted
President Kirchner's tendency to give one message in private
and another in public, which he felt had damaged relations
with the U.S. Socialist Congressman Hermes Binner
highlighted Santa Fe's booming agricultural economy during a
talk at the Club de la Union Nacional. Although Binner
avoided discussion about political candidacies, Binner was
critical of some of Kirchner's policies and his concentration
of power. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) On September 13, Charge and Poloff met with leading
Peronist from Santa Fe province, Senator Carlos Reutemann,
and Poloff met separately with leading candidate for Governor
of Santa Fe, Socialist Hermes Binner. Reutemann, who chairs
the Argentine Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told Charge
that the Congress now has a very limited role in the
political process. Asked about his committee, Reutemann
replied, ""Foreign Ministry officials make their decisions
personally, without consulting us. Of course, in reality,
all of the decisions in this country are made by two or three
people."" Reutemann also said that the Peronist Party (PJ)
was absent from the political system. ""There are a few
people, such as (Salta Governor Carlos) Romero and (former
Senator Ramon) Puerta that are trying to revive the PJ, but
it will not amount to much. It is difficult to build
anything without the national government's support because
they control all of the resources.""

3. (SBU) Reutemann said that Kirchner will continue to
succeed politically as long as the economy remained strong.
Reutemann felt that the economy would continue to be good, at
least until 2008, when problems could begin to develop.
Reutemann thought that former Economy Minister Roberto
Lavanga was the only opposition leader that stood a chance of
competing with Kirchner in 2007, but said he thought that
Kirchner would ultimately win reelection. Reutemann did not
think that the GOA price controls would function in the
long-run, but argued that Kirchner's principal objective is
to ensure that the 2006 inflation figures are lower than the
2005 figures to enable Kirchner to argue that he is better
able to control inflation than was Lavagna in his last year
as Economy Minister. (Note: Lavagna was fired by Kirchner at
the end of November 2005. End Note.)

4. (C) Reutemann noted President Kirchner's tendency to give
one message in private and another in public, which he felt
had damaged relations with the U.S. Reutemann argued that
Kirchner's ""double-speak"" in Monterey, Mexico and poor
performance in Mar del Plata had left a bad impression on
President Bush. Reutemann indicated that he wished the
political situation was different. ""I would have been a
better President."" (COMMENT: Carlos Reutemann, leading in
presidential opinion polls in 2002, was former President
Eduardo Duhalde's first choice to succeed him as President.
Reutemann turned down Duhalde's offer reportedly because he
did not want to compete against his former mentor Carlos
Menem (See reftel A). More recently, Reutemann turned down
President Kirchner's offer to be his candidate for Governor
of Santa Fe in 2007. Reutemann protege and Congresswoman
Maria del Carmen Alarcon told PolCouns and Poloff that
Reutemann does not want to run for Governor because of the
potential that corruption he was involved in when he was
previously Governor might come to light during the campaign.
It is rumored that President Kirchner asked Reutemann to
accompany him on his current trip to the U.S. in order to
personally ask Reutemann to reconsider running for Governor.
END COMMENT.)

BUENOS AIR 00002122 002 OF 002

5. (SBU) Socialist Congressman Hermes Binner highlighted
Santa Fe's booming agricultural economy during a talk at the
Club de la Union Nacional. Binner noted that Santa Fe is
Argentina's largest beef and milk exporter, accounting for 40
and 50 percent of the country's total, respectively. Binner
said that the province's exports of grain has grown from a
level of less than 4.8 billion dollars annually during the
economic crisis to 7.7 billion dollars today. Binner called
for a greater partnership between the government and the
private sector to ensure that this economic growth continues.

6. (SBU) Although Binner avoided talk about political
candidacies, Binner was critical of some of Kirchner's
policies and his concentration of power. Binner deflected
questions about his future political plans and that of his
party, ""There is still a whole year to go before the
elections, and people are fed up with politicians who, upon
being elected, immediately begin campaigning for another job.
We must honor those who voted us into office."" Binner was
highly critical, however, of the GOA ban on beef exports.
""We are lucky that soy is not consumed locally, or it would
be banned too."" Binner also criticized Kirchner's recent
reform of the Council of Magistrates that gave the Casa
Rosada more control over the Judiciary (See reftel B).
Binner noted that other agricultural powerhouses like
Australia and Canada developed booming economies while
enjoying strong democracies.

7. (C) COMMENT: Carlos Reutemann and Hermes Binner are
currently the two most important political figures in
Argentina's fourth largest electoral district. Given
Reutemann's unwillingness to run, it seems highly likely that
Binner will win the gubernatorial elections next year, giving
the political opposition an important success in what is
otherwise likely to be a bleak electoral year. Also, coming
from opposite sides of the political spectrum, their
criticism of Kirchner's concentration of power is a clear
reminder that Kirchner's authoritarian tendencies have earned
him Peronist and non-Peronist critics. END COMMENT.

MATERA

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