Cablegate: Brazilian Senators Welcome U.S. Outreach, Exchange

DE RUEHBR #1850/01 2702051
R 272051Z SEP 07




E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Brazilian Senators Welcome U.S. Outreach, Exchange

Ref: Brasilia 1568

1. (U) Summary. As part of a broad outreach to Brazilian senators
August 7-8 on a number of topics, Ambassador Sobel found very high
receptivity to the prospects of an increase in bilateral
congressional exchanges. Interest is not limited to members of the
foreign affairs committee, and topics of interest include bilateral
and international trade, regional integration, national security,
energy, and others. A Brazilian delegation on biofuels could be
visiting Washington as early as this October. End summary.

--------------------------------------------- ----------
Foreign Relations Committee Chair Encourages Exchanges...
--------------------------------------------- ----------

2. (U) Senator Heraclito Fortes (DEM - Democrats, center-right
opposition party; of Piaui), chairman of the Foreign Relations and
National Defense Committee, told Ambassador over lunch on August 8
that he had been on an official trip to the U/K recently with two
other senators and three deputies. (Reftel reports Fortes's broader
foreign policy comments.) He traveled in his capacity as chairman
of the Foreign Relations and National Defense Committee. He said
Brazilian legislators often travel to other countries and to
international organizations, and a trip to the U.S. in the near
future is essential, if only to discuss the trade relationship,
although there is much more to discuss. He also emphasized the
importance of learning about other countries and sharing information
about one's own country. Senator Fortes said there is an increased
desire in Brazil for dialogue between congresses, that congresses
must work toward bringing countries together, in spite of inevitable
ideological differences, and these dialogues should focus on their
countries' interests, not just the presidents of the respective

...As Do Other Senators

3. (U) Fortes reiterated his interest in exchanges in remarks at an
August 8 dinner organized and hosted for the Ambassador by Senator
Joao Tenorio (PSDB - Brazilian Social Democracy Party - center-left
opposition party; of Alagoas), chairman of the biofuels subcommittee
of the agriculture committee. With the exception of Fortes and
foreign relations committee vice-chair Eduardo Azeredo (PSDB, of
Minas Gerais), most of the dinner attendees were members of the
biofuels subcommittee. Marcos Montes (DEM, of Minas Gerais), a
member of the Chamber of Deputies special committee on bioenergy,
also attended. The ten senators and one deputy at the dinner
repeatedly expressed their pleasure -- and even surprise -- at the
Ambassador's effort to reach out and their interest in increasing
exchanges with the U.S. Senate. Along with Fortes, Tenorio talked
about the important common interests that the U.S. and Brazil share,
cited the numerous times he and his committee had already had
contact with senior USG officials, and expressed his hope that such
contacts could increase.

4. (U) Invited to address the guests, Senator Marisa Serrano (PSDB,
of Mato Grosso do Sul) also welcomed the outreach, but stressed the
importance of our countries working together in "partnership," a
theme repeated by many Brazilians. Noting what an honor it was for
the United States that so many senators to have taken time out
during their busy schedules to attend the dinner, the Ambassador
stressed his interest in spurring exchanges and working closely with
the Brazilian congress on our common interests. Visiting House
Western Hemisphere Subcommittee staff director Jason Steinbaum also
encouraged such cooperation, noting that Subcommittee Chairman Rep.
Eliot Engel (D-NY) hoped to lead a delegation to Brazil in the fall.
Over the course of the dinner, Tenorio made clear that his
committee would be interested in a trip focused on biofuels, perhaps
as early as October. (Separately, staffers told emboffs that
Tenorio would probably look for an invitation before making plans.)

5. (SBU) The outreach events included some of the most respected
leaders in the Senate. A dinner in the Ambassador's honor given on
August 7 by Jorge Werthein, executive director of the Latin American
Technological Information Network, included ten leading senators.
On that occasion, Ambassador spoke with Gerson Camata (PMDB -
Brazilian Democratic Movement Party, a non-ideological party in the
government coalition; of Espirito Santo) about Camata's likelihood
of becoming the next Senate president within weeks. Camata told

BRASILIA 00001850 002 OF 002

Ambassador that he would be interested in assuming the presidency if
he had the backing of the government, even though it could take
several more weeks for the Calheiros affair to be resolved. Senate
president Renan Calheiros (PMDB, of Alagoas), under fire for alleged
corruption, will probably be forced out of both the Senate and the
Senate presidency, and Camata is the most likely successor. (Note:
Support for Calheiros from the Presidential Palace has waned,
according to media reports. Although Calheiros is personally
well-liked by many senators, his situation has become untenable and
he will probably leave the Senate presidency, and possibly even the
Senate. The next president will probably come from the PMDB, since
the largest party in the Senate normally holds the presidency.
Camata's probable opponent is Jarbas Vasconcelos (PMDB, Pernambuco).
Camata is the more likely winner because he would be a good
consensus candidate; Vasconcelos is well-known for his anti-Lula
views. The Calheiros affair will probably be resolved within a
month or two. End note.)

6. (SBU) Comment: The reception senators have given our outreach
effort was unexpectedly warm and enthusiastic, which bodes well for
work on several fronts, including the legislative resolution of our
property issues. Although suffering through the Calheiros corruption
scandal, the Congress will play a key role in shaping the Brazilian
approach to such items as energy policy, biofuels, and trade. As
opinion makers, both in Brasilia and in their home districts, their
understanding of U.S. policy and the way in which our government
operates can be essential to helping advance our objectives and
enhance our bilateral relationship. Embassy will look for ways to
build on these initial outreach efforts, especially through
exchanges between the U.S. and Brazilian congresses.


© Scoop Media

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