Cablegate: Key Brazilin Senator Voices Concern Over Venezuelan
DE RUEHBR #1568/01 2261849
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 141849Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY BRASILIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9745
INFO RUEHRG/AMCONSUL RECIFE 7047
RUEHSO/AMCONSUL SAO PAULO 0618
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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BRASIIA 001568
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TAGS: PREL ECON BR XR
SUBJECT: Key Brazilin Senator Voices Concern over Venezuelan
1. (SBU) Summary. During a lunchAmbassador Sobel gave on August 8
as part of a boader outreach to Brazilian senators (septel), the
Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations and Natonal Defense
Committee, Heraclito Fortes, expresed concerns about threats to
democracy from Venezela and Bolivia. A member of the principal
oppoition party, Senator Fortes said the fact that Chaez and
Morales are working together to spread thir ideology is worrisome,
and that Mercosul is rght to create barriers against the accession
of sates that are not committed to safeguarding democrcy. He said
the Brazilian Senate faces two altenatives: approve Venezuelan
accession to Mercosu and thereby place squarely on Chavez the
burdenof complying with Mercosul's accession terms, or dey
accession, which Chavez could use to make himslf a victim and
martyr. Fortes seemed to be leaning toward the first option, which
would hand Chavez a problem to resolve. The new chairman of the
Agriculture committee said that in spite of criticism of Brazil's
biofuels program by Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez, Brazil will
continue along the current path. End summary.
Concern for Democracy on the Continent
2. (SBU) Senator Fortes (Democrat, from Piaui state), chairman of
the Senate Foreign Relations and National Defense Committee, over
lunch with the Ambassador and three staffers from the House Foreign
Affairs Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere Affairs on August 8, said
he has concerns about threats to democracy on the South American
continent. Twenty-five years ago there were many dictatorships,
some stronger, some weaker. Now, the continent is ruled by
democratic governments, some stronger, some weaker, he explained.
The continent cannot afford to go back to dictatorship, which is why
he calls for greater understanding of the importance of defending
democracy. He stressed that Mercosul, a bloc whose purpose is in
part to safeguard democracy, is right to create barriers to entry
into it by states that would not safeguard democracy, adding that he
did not see how Mercosul could be considered a threat to anyone.
(Fortes repeated comments along these lines in brief remarks at a
dinner with the Ambassador and nine other senators, septel).
3. (SBU) Ambassador Sobel said the USG is very supportive of any
organization that can bring the region together and we are also
supportive of any organization that can bring the hemisphere
4. (SBU) In response to a question from a House WHA Subcommittee
staffer, Senator Fortes expressed strong concerns about Hugo
Chavez's government. He recalled that Chavez had initially taken
steps against the judiciary and legislature in Venezuela, and had
increasingly taken away freedom of the press. He said that Chavez
alone did not constitute a threat to regional stability, but in
concert with Evo Morales of Bolivia and their attempts to expand
their ideology in the region, the situation is worrisome. He said
he understood that Hugo Chavez is supporting and financing a
candidate for president of Paraguay who would, if elected, deport
Brazilian nationals working in agriculture areas in Paraguay.
Chavez has not changed social conditions in Venezuela, Sen. Fortes
continued, but what he is doing is an international "blocking"
effort for his own benefit.
Venezuelan Accession to Mercosul
5. (SBU) Chavez had been irritated by the Brazilian Senate's
resolution on the RCTV matter, and because he has an "explosive"
nature, Fortes said, Chavez had made a commitment to win entry to
Mercosul within 60 days. But there are two clauses in the Mercosul
Charter that could block Venezuelans accession, Fortes said, one on
taxes, the other concerning democracy. So Chavez threw the problem
on Brazil, which leaves Brazil with two alternatives, Fortes said.
The first alternative is to have Congress approve Venezuela's full
accession then let accession itself be Chavez's problem, including
coming into compliance with all the requirements for full accession.
The other is to deny Venezuelan accession and make Chavez a victim
and martyr. Fortes seemed to favor approving Venezuelan accession,
thereby handing Chavez a big problem to resolve. He said the Senate
still must debate the bill on Venezuelan accession to Mercosul.
(Note: In a session with the House WHA Subcommittee staffers later
that afternoon, Ministry of External Relations staff expressed no
similar qualms regarding Venezuelan accession, saying that in
inviting Venezuela to join, member governments have effectively
approved accession. End note.)
6. (SBU) Fortes added that, in his view, Chavez has become a
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