Cablegate: Spain and Latin America: Valedictory Tour


DE RUEHMD #0795/01 2030617
P 210617Z JUL 08

C O N F I D E N T I A L MADRID 000795



E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/18/2018

Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission Hugo Llorens, for reasons 1.4 (b
) and (d)

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: The DCM paid a farewell call on Spanish
Secretary of State for IberoAmerican Affairs Trinidad Jimenez
on July 1 and took the opportunity to exchange views on
recent events in the Western Hemisphere. The meeting was
substantive and lasted well over an hour. The two discussed
FM Moratinos's June 17-18 visit to Colombia and Venezuela and
Jimenez's trip to Ecuador, ongoing protests in Argentina,
opportunities for the United States and Spain to collaborate
with Mexico and Central American countries on security
issues, and Cuba. As usual, Jimenez was cordial and open,
and although aware of the challenges facing Latin America,
was overall optimistic about the medium-term prospects in the
region. Reviewing our shared goals, both Secretary of State
Jimenez and the DCM were hopeful for future opportunities for
U.S.-Spanish engagement in the region, including the next
Working Group which Jimenez hoped would take place in
September on the margins of the UNGA. End summary.

//The Merida Initiative//

2. (SBU) The DCM opened by stressing the importance of the
United States and Spain working together to support democracy
by seeking ways to strengthen the rule of law and promote
judicial reform in Latin America. The DCM cited Foreign
Affairs Secretary of State Angel Lossada's June 26 meetings
in Washington with the Deputy Secretary and with WHA A/S
Shannon. Jimenez said Lossada had briefed her on these
meetings. She agreed that judicial reform and rule of law
were vital issues in the region and had a prominent place in
EU and Spanish development portfolios in Latin American
countries. She stressed Spain's continuing future resource
commitment in this area and promised to provide us with a
portfolio of these kinds of projects throughout the region.
In response to the DCM's brief, she was extremely positive
about the U.S. effort to further increase support for Mexican
and Central American efforts to fight drug trafficking and
organized crime through the Merida Initiative. She cited the
critical importance for the region of President Calderon's
success in his tenacious fight against the drug bands.
Jimenez expressed great concern about the deteriorating
situation in Central America and agreed that making headway
against corruption and crime were critical to restoring
stability in the region.

//Recovering "Formality" with Venezuela, et al//

3. (C) Asked about Foreign Minister Moratinos's June trip to
Venezuela and Colombia, Jimenez responded that Spain's
purpose had been to "recover a certain formality" and to
diminish tensions before the next IberoAmerican Summit, in
which the Spanish King will participate. Jimenez said that
in this visit Chavez had been unusually moderate, avoiding
rhetorical excesses, and expressing interest in normalizing
relations with Spain. She described the principal issues on
the agenda as bilateral and principally related to supporting
Spanish business interests and ensuring the protection of
Spanish citizen properties in Venezuela. Jimenez described
Chavez as "a brute, but not a stupid one." Chavez recognized
that having lost the December 2007 referendum, his leadership
position had been weakened. She said that Moratinos had
invited Chavez to Spain, in connection with a trip by Chavez
to the Water Expo in Zaragoza, in an effort to smooth over
relations between the King and Chavez -- an effort the King
supported. (Embassy Comment: We understand that Chavez is
scheduled to visit Spain on/about July 21. The media report
he will meet with King Juan Carlos I on July 25 in Palma de
Mallorca, and will come to Madrid the same day to meet with
President Zapatero.) The DCM raised U.S. concerns about
Chavez and particularly his growing ties with Iran. Jimenez
agreed that Venezuela's relations with Iran needed to be
monitored, but noted that ultimately the two countries did
not have much in common because of culture and the fact that
both were principally energy exporters. She hastened
somewhat naively to point out that despite economic dealings
with Iran, Venezuela's economic ties with the U.S. would
remain paramount. The DCM stressed the importance of Spain's
not selling arms or weapons systems to Venezuela, which would
send destabilizing signals around the region.

4. (C) Regarding the state of relations between Venezuela,
Colombia, and Ecuador since the early March border conflict,
Jimenez stated that despite the huge political differences
between Chavez and Uribe, paradoxically in the past both
Presidents actually had developed a measure of personal
rapport. Certainly, national interest suggested that both
nations needed to maintain good relations. She cited the
fact that Venezuela was very dependent on Colombia as its
principal supplier of foodstuffs, a fact that Chavez appeared
mindful of at a time that Venezuela faced severe food
shortages. Jimenez insisted that Uribe had even managed to
maintain open lines of communication with Cuba's Fidel
Castro, developed over the years and related to peace talks
with the ELN. The biggest problem in this diplomatic jigsaw,
according to Jimenez, was the poor state of relations between
Ecuador and Colombia, and personally between President Correa
and President Uribe. Jimenez described as excellent Foreign
Minister Moratinos, visit to Colombia and meetings with
President Uribe in Cali. Jimenez mentioned that Spain had
offered to be helpful in easing tensions over the border with
Ecuador, and had offered to provide a radar in order to
ensure better border communication between the two countries.
In her visit to Quito, Jimenez said Ecuadorian President
seemed most concerned about salvaging his international image
damaged by evidence linking him and his government to the

5. (C) Jimenez asserted President Zapatero was keen on
strengthening ties with the troubled Andean region. Of the
Andean nations, Bolivia was the most worrisome for Spain.
She did not see Bolivia breaking up, but did see the
potential for violence between the regions as a real
possibility. While President Evo Morales might be
strengthened by any referendum, it seemed to Jimenez that
Morales had "thrown in the towel" and was no longer fighting
the prefects. She noted that Morales appeared to be looking
for external enemies such as USAID to detract from his
domestic problems. Overall, however, Spain and Europe had
reason to be optimistic as things were "settling" throughout
Latin America. Young democracies that had not yet performed
well needed time to consolidate their maturing democracies,
yet Jimenez judged there was a low risk of back-sliding in
most countries of the region. Jimenez and the DCM agreed
that the recent mob attack on the U.S. Embassy was of grave
concern and seriously weakened the credibility of the
Bolivian government to guarantee the security of diplomatic


6. (C) Regarding Argentina, Jimenez said President Cristina
Kirchner had canceled a planned July 14 visit to Spain due to
the conflict with the farmers. Jimenez agreed that Argentina
had once again lost an opportunity to move its economy
forward. She called Kirchner's response to the ongoing farm
protests a shame for such a great and resource-rich country
and said she hoped that there would be a viable and organized
opposition. She lamented the weakness of Argentine political
parties and noted she was troubled by the "unionized"
opposition mounted in the countryside by the farmers, which
she said threatened chaos. Jimenez opined that part of the
problem was Cristina's over-reliance on former President
Nestor Kirchner, whose confrontational approach to politics
was exacerbating the crisis.


7. (C) Turning to Cuba, Jimenez expressed hope the EU's
strategy would be successful and would generate positive
change. The DCM voiced the Administration's skepticism that
these measures would generate positive response from Raul
Castro. Jimenez expressed the hope that if real change were
evident, Washington might be able to adjust its own approach.
The DCM assured her that if Cuba embarked on a genuine path
of political reform, the U.S. was ready and had a plan to
engage and provide support. Jimenez echoed opinions heard
previously in our past discussions on Cuba, insisting that
the international community could not merely wait for change
but must talk to the regime and push directly in order for
changes to come. The DCM said the USG was pleased that a

wide spectrum of EU countries had participated in the June
review process and that the declaration was cautious,
mentioned prisoners of conscience, and included at a minimum
the one-year evaluation mechanism.

//Latin American Working Group//

8. (C) Jimenez expressed hope that Spain would further
strengthen its relationship with the United States so that in
a global scenario, the whole Western Hemisphere will become
one pole: (just) America. She noted that in all of her
meetings with Latin American leaders, she stressed the
importance of having strong relations with the U.S. as
essential to maintaining hemispheric cohesion, which was good
for the region and in Spain,s interest. Jimenez said her
office would continue to work with WHA A/S Shannon to bridge
the gap in our perspectives through the end of the Bush
Administration. She told the DCM she looked forward to going
to Washington in September in conjunction with her travel to
New York for the UN General Assembly. Jimenez planned to
spend the first few days with President Zapatero at the UN
and return for the LAWG at the end of the week, but saw no
need to stay in New York for bilateral meetings with Western
Hemisphere leaders who frequently come to see her in Spain.
Asked by the DCM if she would still be interested in visiting
Southern Command in Miami, she demurred vaguely saying that
"they" would think it wrong. She said it was important
nonetheless to maintain contact with the Cuban community in
Miami and to have a presence -- even if her interlocutors
were critical of Spanish policy. Jimenez and the DCM agreed
that both Spain and the United States had common political
and economic interests in Latin America and needed to
continue to work closely together. The DCM noted that A/S
Shannon's numerous visits to Europe demonstrated our interest
in working closely with Europe on Latin America.

9. (C) COMMENT: Jimenez appeared increasingly confident in
her role as Spain,s senior policymaker on Latin America and
will remain our principal interlocutor in the region. It
will be important to continue to work with her and influence
her on issues of mutual interest.

© Scoop Media

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