Cablegate: Media Reaction; Chavez and Mercosur; Hamas and The
DE RUEHBU #1296/01 1861952
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 051952Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8574
INFO RHMFISS/CDR USSOCOM MACDILL AFB FL//SCJ2//
UNCLAS BUENOS AIRES 001296
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
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION; CHAVEZ AND MERCOSUR; HAMAS AND THE
LIBERATION OF THE BBC JOURNALIST; BUENOS AIRES 07/05/07
1. SUMMARY STATEMENT
Papers lead with President Chavez'spat with Lula over Venezuela's
entry in MERCOSUR, and HAMAS' liberation of BBC journalist Alan
Johnston, viewed as a strategic move aimed at showing it's fully in
control of the Gaza Strip.
2. OPINION PIECES AND EDITORIALS
- "Chavez and his place in the world"
Ricardo Roa, deputy general editor of leading Clarin, opines (07/05)
"Chavez intends to impose rules on Mercosur which its founding
partners wouldn't even dream of, and he does this without even
belonging to the bloc... Two of the members need to approve it:
Paraguay and Brazil. Chavez gave both a three month ultimatum to
vote for once and for all. Otherwise, he will return his access
"His real fight is with Brazil. The Brazilian Congress condemned the
closing down of Venezuela's key TV station and Chavez called them
'Washington's parrots'. From then on, there was an escalation of the
controversy, which reached Amorim first, and then Lula himself.
"Chavez also said Mercosur is boring, old and pro right-wing, thanks
to Brazil. How can he be bored if he hasn't entered it yet, asked
Amorim ironically. Yesterday, Lula was fed up and, with Chavez' same
diplomacy, told him to abide by the rules, if he wishes to be a
"...The region's ongoing effort to lure him, despite all this, is
due to his petrodollars and his oil. This also explains why his
almost indigestible attitudes -- such as the alliance with Iran --,
are tolerated. But many already believe Chavez' unpredictable
demands on MERCOSUR are, in the end, nothing but a pretext to avoid
entering a place that's doesn't suit him. "
- "It's the economy, again..."
Marcelo Cantelmi, leading "Clarin" international editor, says
(07/05) "... Probably, Chavez' attacks against Mercosur are less a
series of political rows than a domestic economic scenario, which is
what makes Caracas move away from the bloc. Chavez angrily rejects
it, so he says, for the 'Capitalist' profile of MERCOSUR, but those
countries aren't less capitalist than Venezuela is today, regardless
of rhetoric. The issue seems to be the fact that Chavez is facing a
myriad of challenges, which can be summarized in public spending
without control (it grew 60% in 2006 and will grow 37% this year)
and fiscal deficit.
".... If Venezuela enters Mercosur the issue of tariffs and its
openness to MERCOSUR partners would be today anything but
beneficial. Chavez needs resources to face spending, including
subsidizing consumption. This explains recent nationalizations in
public services and most of the oil income. He also seeks to have
his hands free in order to negotiate with anyone he wants, without
the limitations Mercosur imposes on its partners."
- "Hamas' Bet"
Paula Lugones, leading "Clarin" international columnist, writes
(07/05) "The journalist's liberation was a staged move, perfectly
calculated by Hamas. It wasn't by chance that Alan Johnston appeared
before the anxious international photographers at the house of
Ismael Haniyeh, the man who rules the Gaza Strip, and who's rejected
by the West for confronting with the 'moderate' West Bank.
"By doing this, Hamas is trying to show the world that it fully
controls the Gaza Strip; that as the organization that won the
recent democratic elections, it has nothing to do with those groups
that kidnap people in that territory, and which some people link
with Al Qaeda. And, above all, Hamas is trying to show that Mahmoud
Abbas, the Palestinian leader 'pampered' by the powers, failed in
setting the journalist free.
"Haniyeh was cornered, given he had to dominate an unruly clan that
was part of "Islam's Army" who kept the journalist hostage as a
bargaining tool. But Great Britain too, raised its stakes to the
limit, ignoring the Western powers' blockade on Hamas and sent an
official to Gaza to continue negotiations....
"In sum, the Johnston case might open a rift in Hamas' isolation and
help it get rid of its 'Satanic' image. As part of this bet, what
remains now is the liberation of the Israeli soldier, who was
kidnapped a year ago and who's now in the hands of this
organization, allegedly in control of the Gaza Strip."
To see more Buenos Aires reporting, visit our
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