Cablegate: Brazil Field Office
Lucia A Keegan 09/18/2006 10:24:51 AM From DB/Inbox: Lucia A Keegan
UNCLAS SENSITIVE PARIS 06225
INFO: ECON AMBU AMB AMBO DCM SCI POL
APPROVED: AMB: LVOLIVER
DRAFTED: POL: DROSTROFF
CLEARED: SCI: NJCOOPER; LEG:TMPEAY; DCM:AKOSS
RR RUEHC RUEHBR
DE RUEHFR #6225 2581532
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 151532Z SEP 06
FM AMEMBASSY PARIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1396
INFO RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 1665
UNCLAS PARIS 006225
FROM USMISSION UNESCO PARIS
E.O.: 12958: N/A
TAGS: UNESCO SCUL BR
SUBJECT: BRAZIL FIELD OFFICE
1. (SBU) Summary: Efforts by Brazil's ambassador to UNESCO to
convince the US to have the Executive Board abandon its inquiries
into alleged irregularities at the Brasilia field office did not go
as planned, and could give new momentum to push the investigation
further. End summary.
2. (SBU) Brazil's ambassador to UNESCO, Luiz Filipe de Macedo
Soares, met with Ambassador Oliver on Wednesday, 13 September at the
US Mission's offices. The US Mission's legal adviser, Michael Peay
and David Ostroff also attended the meeting.
3. (SBU) Ambassador Soares said that the purpose of his visit was
to discuss the situation regarding UNESCO's Brasilia Field Office,
which has been the focus of attention regarding allegations of
mismanagement. The Brazilian ambassador said that he thought the
problems were being addressed and appropriate measures are being
taken to correct any problems, and that it is now time to move on to
more important issues.
4. (SBU) The Brazilian ambassador said that with no "major"
irregularities found, apart from not keeping to proper bureaucratic
procedure, poor file keeping, etc., it was time to clear the issue
from the Executive Board's agenda as, he complained, it has become
an almost automatic point of examination every six months since
5. (SBU) He also made the point that he had been contacted during
his recent visit home by several key political figures concerning
this matter, including the Minister for Political Coordination from
the Office of the President, the Vice Minister of Education, as well
as the head of TV Globo, Brazil's major television network.
6. (SBU) Specifically, the Ambassador said that someone from
UNESCO's Inspector General's office, had been conducting an
"inquisition" regarding the Brasilia field office, and was creating
an atmosphere of "general anxiety"; leaving the impression that
something bad is going on in UNESCO's Brazil office, which he said
is clearly not the case, in his view. The Brazilian delegation has
been putting strong pressure on UNESCO regarding the investigation
led by John Parsons, head of UNESCO's Internal Oversight Service.
7. (SBU) The Brazilian ambassador said that raising these questions
hurts UNESCO's image in his country and spreads "little poisons"
that damage the reputation and credibility of both public and
private Brazilian institutions, referring to the Ministry of
Education and the television network, TV Globo.
8. (SBU) One of the key issues being investigated was the field
office's "handling" of monies raised by TV Globo telethons for the
NGO Crianca Esperanca, (over 40 million dollars since 1986) for
which UNESCO received a 10 percent "service fee". It is also worth
noting that a full one-third of UNESCO's extra budgetary funds
(approximately US$124 million) flow through Brazil's field office.
The other major issue under investigation concerned employment
contracts on behalf of Brazilian government agencies that were under
9. (SBU) He finished by saying that he was not asking for our
support, but rather came just to give us needed background. He
added that "most" Executive Board members, in any case, were not
interested in this problem.
10. (SBU) Ambassador Oliver said that given the fact there was a
strongly critical report on the Brazil office just before the Spring
2006 Executive Board meeting, it was not surprising there would be a
11. (SBU) She went on to say that it is because Brazil is such a
large and important office for UNESCO that the problems there have
attracted so much attention. Ambassador Oliver added that the
issues are generic and, in fact, much larger than the Brasilia
office, and concern issues of management, oversight, accountability,
and general relations between headquarters-field offices throughout
the UNESCO system.
12. (SBU) Ambassador Oliver also raised the question as to why the
Secretariat would have drafted the resolution before the Executive
Board in such a way as to keep the issue alive, rather than indicate
that the problems have been solved, if, in fact, that were the case.
13. (SBU) Comment: Soares' visit may have backfired. Instead of the
sympathetic ear he had hoped for, his comments gave us further cause
to question the status of the Director General's review of the
situation in Brazil. US Mission's legal adviser, Michael Peay, will
be in touch with UNESCO's External Auditor for more information in
the next few days. End comment.