Cablegate: Iraq; World Bank's Response to President Kirchner;
DE RUEHBU #2620/01 3310907
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 270907Z NOV 06
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6584
INFO RHMFISS/CDR USSOCOM MACDILL AFB FL//SCJ2//
UNCLAS BUENOS AIRES 002620
STATE FOR INR/R/MR, I/GWHA, WHA, WHA/PDA, WHA/BSC,
CDR USSOCOM FOR J-2 IAD/LAMA
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPAO OPRC KMDR PREL MEDIA REACTION
SUBJECT: IRAQ; WORLD BANK'S RESPONSE TO PRESIDENT KIRCHNER;
VENEZUELAN-ARGENTINE TIES; US IMAGE; BOLIVIA; US-ARGENTINE
RELATIONSHIP; US PRESIDENT BUSH'S DAUGHTERS IN BUENOS AIRES;
11/24/06; BUENOS AIRES
1. SUMMARY STATEMENT
Today's international leading stories include US President Bush's
decision not to travel to Baghdad on Thanksgiving Day; the World
Bank's response to President Kirchner's letter over the pulp mills;
Venezuelan President Chavez's reported decision to remove his
Ambassador to Argentina; the current situation in Bolivia; the
US-Argentine bilateral relationship; and the implications of the
theft of Barbara Bush's handbag in a Buenos Aires restaurant.
2. OPINION PIECES
- "Bush and a sign in the form of an absence"
Hugo Alconada Mon, Washington-based correspondent for
daily-of-record "La Nacion," writes (11/24) "According to Republican
government officials, in a sign of tacit acknowledgment that the
situation in Iraq is getting worse every day, US President George W.
Bush and VP Dick Cheney decided not to travel to Baghdad to meet
with US troops or local authorities on Thanksgiving day due to the
'danger' their visits could have implied.
"Unless there is a surprise, as has happened in the past, Bush will
arrive in Jordan next week to meet with Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki
while Cheney will arrive today in Saudi Arabia to discuss with King
Abdullah how to stop the escalation of violence in Iraq. Bush and
Al-Maliki will analyze different ways to control the chaos hitting
the country after a 45-month-occupation, and will tackle 'the
establishment of security and stability in Iraq,' according to a
- "The World Bank's reply to Kirchner"
Ana Baron, Washington-based correspondent for leading "Clarin,"
writes (11/23) "According to an Argentine Government official in
Washington, the president of the World Bank, Paul Wolfowitz, sent a
letter to President Kirchner one day before the vote on the loan for
"However, the letter sent to the Argentine President was not signed
by Wolfowitz..., something considered an offense in diplomatic
"According to the source, the letter responds point by point
toKirchner's letter to Wolfowitz... It explains that, according to
the two environmental studies carried out by the International
Financial Corporation, the mills will not cause any environmental
damage and that international environmental protection standards are
being met. Regarding the lawsuit filed by Argentina against Uruguay
at The Hague International Criminal Court, the letter says it is a
long-term issue, and that the Bank will not side with any of the two
"The truth is that while many may think it is praiseworthy to fight
for the environment, the way in which the events occurred did not
contribute to the notion that that was Argentina's real purpose, but
quite the opposite."
- "Venezuela could remove its Ambassador to Argentina"
Mariano Obarrio, political columnist of daily-of-record "La Nacion,"
comments (11/24) "The Kirchner administration believes that
Venezuelan Ambassador Roger Cappella has been recalled to Venezuela
for good and that he will not return to Argentina. If he did,
however, it would be interpreted as a challenge from Bolivarian
Leader Hugo Chavez to the Argentine President.
"... Members of the Argentine Government asserted that Chavez
clearly understood after his conversation with Kirchner that Capella
had on several occasions interfered in domestic issues...
"Among his most irritating decisions, he is reported to have funded
political parties such as the Communist Party and Luis D'Elia's
group of picketers. According to members of the Argentine
Government, he wielded strong clout among social organizations,
which he persuaded to pressure the government to defend Iran, an
ally of Venezuela.
"Also, he is reported to have led 'active diplomacy' activities,
such as distributing social assistance and lecturing at universities
to disseminate Chavez's 'Bolivarian revolution.'"
- "The US loses millions for its officials' 'bad education'"
Hugo Alconada Mon, Washington-based correspondent for
daily-of-record "La Nacion," writes (11/23) "The ladies and
gentlemen who stamp the first US seals on passports damage the US
image, bring millions of losses to the US economy and, to make
matters worse, they dissuade millions from traveling to the US
either for business or pleasure.
"These are the main conclusions of a US opinion poll conducted by
the Discover America Partnership, an alliance of major
tourism-related US firms that wanted to evaluate how the US is seen
abroad and how to improve its image.
"The conclusions of this study were surprising, at least for them.
The most important complaint is that the US is considered the
'worst' country when it comes to requesting a visa, and another
complaint is about 'ill-treatment' by immigration officials."
- "A sign in the middle of a storm"
Fernando Halperin, columnist of daily-of-record "La Nacion," writes
(11/24) "The news of the day in Bolivia is that the Morales
administration has decided to sit at a negotiating table with the
opposition. But this news carries a question - is it a sporadic
gesture or a real change of direction in a governing style that has
led Morales and his followers to a swamp, from which he has made
unsuccessful attempts to get out...?
"In spite of the current political turbulence, the socialist
government has not gone through major crises, at least if one bears
in mind Bolivia's ever volatile political scene.
"If one makes a cold analysis of the current situation in Bolivia,
the conclusion should be more than soothing. Bolivia is going
through one of the greatest economic bonanza in years; the
government still has huge popular support...; and social unrest is
under control. The future does not seem less promising.
"Nonetheless, Morales is not sailing on calm waters but in a rough
sea with dark clouds ahead. Analysts find this easy to explain.
"Jorge Lazarte, former judge at the National Election Court, pointed
out that 'the government has made many political mistakes and has
awakened a fairly disperse opposition.' 'The government is used to
making strong statements and threatening to impose tough
punishments, but it then sits down to negotiate.'
"Beyond the land reform, the controversy over the two-thirds at the
Constituent Assembly and the draft bill aimed at monitoring and
overthrowing governors, Lazarte believes that there are two
governmental initiatives that could never be implemented in Bolivia
- the replacement of a representative democracy with a consensus
democracy, in which the right to dissent is not guaranteed; and the
indigenous ethno-mania, which is at the core of all the changes
proposed by the government."
- "(Argentina's) relations with the US"
Leading "Clarin" editorializes (11/24) "The arrival of a new US
Ambassador (to the country) usually raises expectations in the
bilateral relationship. In this case, Ambassador Earl Anthony
Wayne's arrival coincided with the US support for the (Argentine)
judicial request for the international arrest of former high-ranking
Iranian government officials who were involved in the AMIA case.
Other gestures from the Argentine Government were also interpreted
as part of a friendlier attitude toward the US.
"But beyond specific short-term situations, the truth is that a
fluid relationship and a frank understanding with the US should be
part of any serious foreign policy strategy...
"There are some publicly known points of disagreement as regards to
agricultural protectionism or intellectual property, which were made
explicit in the 2005 Mar del Plata Summit of the Americas... But
when it comes to substance, there are major points of hemispheric
agreement regarding democratic development, the need to improve the
countries' ability to meet regional challenges and global threats.
Additionally, of course, there is the economic, political and
cultural cooperation, which calls for realistic, mature and friendly
ties with the US."
- "Don't beat about the Bush"
An editorial in liberal, English-language "Buenos Aires Herald"
reads (11/23) "The belated reports of the theft of the handbag of
Barbara Bush (the daughter of US President George W. Bush, not his
mother) in a San Telmo restaurant early this week deserve some
serious comment even though at first sight this might look like
inflating a petty crime simply because it involves an extremely
high-profile personality - the offspring of the world superpower's
leader. Indeed the case is important not because she was Barbara
Bush but because there is every indication that her assailants
mistook her for an ordinary tourist - the issue of the safety of
every visitor is thus raised... The safety of any tourist is at
stake and with it the future of a growing industry earning
invaluable foreign revenue...
"This theft also raises the question of the 'zero tolerance'
approach to crime... The damage from this theft has already been
done in image terms, but it need not be irreparable. As things now
stand, the Kirchner administration's reputation is highly vulnerable
to a spectacular crime because of its lax approach to law and order
- people will assume that any shocking crime is the consequence of
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