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Cablegate: Argentina: Close Kirchner Associate On U.S. And

VZCZCXRO6578
PP RUEHCD RUEHGA RUEHGD RUEHHA RUEHHO RUEHMC RUEHQU RUEHTM RUEHVC
DE RUEHBU #2123/01 2612048
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 182048Z SEP 06
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5941
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 1718

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BUENOS AIRES 002123

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: 09/12/2016

TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL AR

SUBJECT: ARGENTINA: CLOSE KIRCHNER ASSOCIATE ON U.S. AND

VENEZUELA RELATIONS AND DOMESTIC POLITICS


REF: BUENOS AIRES 01901


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


1. (SBU) SUMMARY: On September 11, Charge and Poloffs

(notetakers) met with Congressman and longtime Kirchner

associate Carlos Kunkel that included a wide-ranging

discussion on bilateral relations, Venezuela and Argentine

politics. Kunkel noted that the GOA has many points of

cooperation with the USG and said that Argentina appreciates

the help the U.S. provided the country during the economic

crisis. Turning to Venezuela, Kunkel emphasized the economic

nature of the GOA's relationship with the Chavez government.

On domestic politics, Kunkel lamented the lack of a viable

opposition in Argentina and defended the GOA's use of public

works funds. The meeting closed with the Charge providing

Kunkel a copy of Ambassador Wayne's congressional testimony,

and Kunkel expressing confidence that Ambassador Wayne would

be a good Ambassador. END SUMMARY.


2. (SBU) On September 11, Charge and Poloffs (notetakers)

met with Congressman and longtime Kirchner associate Carlos

Kunkel that included a wide-ranging discussion on bilateral

relations, Venezuela and Argentine politics. Carlos Kunkel

has a close relationship with President Nestor Kirchner that

stretches back more than 30 years. Kunkel notes that he was

Kirchner's first employer when Kirchner entered law school in

La Plata in the early 1970s where Kunkel was an

upperclassman. Kunkel is associated with the more radical

left-wing side of the Kirchner movement and was responsible

for managing First Lady Cristina Kirchner's Senate campaign

in Buenos Aires province during last October's elections.

Kunkel began the discussion by welcoming the Charge back to

Argentina and highlighting the importance of a good dialogue

between the two governments, despite any differences that

might exist. Charge replied that the USG was very pleased

with the fluid dialogue that existed with the GOA.


3. (SBU) Kunkel noted that the GOA has many points of

cooperation with the USG and Kunkel said that Argentina

appreciates the help the U.S. provided the country during

Argentina's economic crisis. Kunkel said that the GOA has

great respect for the U.S. and that ""you will not see

officially-backed demonstrations in the street directed

against the U.S."" Kunkel said that he and his colleagues do

not want to publicly comment on the bilateral relationship

and prefer to leave those matters to the professionals in the

Foreign Ministry. Kunkel also noted that the U.S. naturally

has a much larger role in the world than Argentina and that

Argentina does not want to meddle in any other country's

domestic affairs.


4. (SBU) Turning to Venezuela, Kunkel emphasized the

economic nature of the GOA's relationship with the Chavez

government. ""If someone offers us a better price for our

bonds, we will go with them, much the same as I imagine you

would stop buying Venezuelan oil and go with another supplier

if you could get a better price."" Kunkel downplayed the

ideological nature of the GOA-GOV relationship, saying that

the Venezuelan style of democracy and politics is very

different from that of Argentina. Kunkel said that in

particular, the use of political violence would never be

accepted in Argentina. ""We do not base our relations on

ideology. For example, we were among the first to support

Uruguay's Tabare Vazquez when he was running for President,

but when the controversy arose regarding the paper mills, we

defended the rights of the affected residents against the

Uruguayan government.""


5. (SBU) Moving to domestic politics, Kunkel lamented the

lack of a viable opposition in Argentina. ""It would be

better if the 20-25 percent of the population that does not

agree with us had leaders that actually represented them.""

Kunkel said that opposition leaders like former President

Raul Alfonsin and Republican Proposal (PRO) leader Ricardo

Lopez Murphy lack public support. ""In the last elections,

Lopez Murphy came in fifth place in Buenos Aires province,


BUENOS AIR 00002123 002 OF 002



and yet he complains that President Kirchner does not consult

with him. Would Bush consult with someone who came in fifth

in some U.S. state before he made a decision?"" Kunkel also

said that Alfonsin has no right to accuse Kirchner of

destroying the opposition Radical Civic Union (UCR).

""Alfonsin has run the UCR for 30 years. Under Alfonsin's

leadership, the party went from winning 52 percent of the

vote in 1983 to 2 percent of the vote in 2003, all before

Kirchner came to office.""


6. (SBU) Kunkel defended the GOA's management of public

works contracts, arguing that the funds are equitably

distributed. ""I was in Alfonsin's hometown of Chascomus the

other day helping to inaugurate a large new public housing

project. The UCR mayor, who is not aligned with us, was

taking credit for the whole project. In fact, all of the

funds came from the national government.""


7. (SBU) Turning to the subject of the arrival of Ambassador

Wayne, Charge provided a copy of Ambassador Wayne's

congressional testimony to Kunkel. (Note: Carlos Kunkel was

one of the main Kirchner allies who reacted negatively to

reports of Ambassador Wayne's testimony during his

congressional confirmation hearings, and Kunkel publicly

accused Ambassador Wayne of defending former President Carlos

Menem's policies, based on inaccurate local press reports of

Wayne's testimony. End Note.) Kunkel said that he had no

doubt that Ambassador Wayne would be a good Ambassador, and

he looked forward to continued good relations with the U.S.

Embassy.


8. (C) COMMENT: The meeting with Carlos Kunkel followed a

familiar script used by all of Kirchner's officials -- speak

nicely to U.S. diplomats in private while criticizing the

U.S. or U.S. policy in public. In Kunkel's case, it is even

more difficult to believe. Kunkel, an ex-Montonero, has been

a prominent participant or organizer in nearly every leftist

demonstration that has enjoyed tacit Casa Rosada support

during the last three years, from the Counter-Summit at Mar

del Plata last November, to the piquetero march against Juan

Carlos Blumberg two weeks ago. As Kunkel indicated, however,

it is better to have a fluid dialogue, despite the

disagreements, than to have disagreements with poor

communication. We will continue to engage Carlos Kunkel from

time to time to ensure that his disagreements with the U.S.

are voiced privately, and not to the Argentine press. END

COMMENT.



MATERA


=======================CABLE ENDS============================

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