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Cablegate: Argentina: Candid Talk From Buenos Aires Mayor Mauricio Macri On Current Political Environment

VZCZCXYZ0000
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBU #1150/01 2272042
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 142042Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1789
INFO RUCNMER/MERCOSUR COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RHMFISS/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL IMMEDIATE
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE

C O N F I D E N T I A L BUENOS AIRES 001150 SIPDIS E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/11/2018 TAGS: PGOV PREL EAGR ECON ETRD EFIN AR

SUBJECT: ARGENTINA: CANDID TALK FROM BUENOS AIRES MAYOR MAURICIO MACRI ON CURRENT POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT

REF: A. BUENOS AIRES 0893 B. BUENOS AIRES 1050 Classified By: by Ambassador Wayne for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

1. (C) Summary: In a meeting with Senior Professional Staffer of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Carl Meacham and the DCM, Buenos Aires Mayor Mauricio Macri criticized the Kirchners for pushing their policies to the limit and spoke directly about concerns that President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner (CFK) could fail to complete her mandate. Macri said that he thinks CFK will muddle through, if only because many fear the instability that could follow such a scenario. He attributed anti-Americanism in Argentina to a government that does not restrain its criticism of the United States, but noted that Argentina not only craves U.S. attention, but also needs better relations with the United States. Macri asserted that the Kirchners view his current success as a threat, and indicated his intention to run for the presidency. End Summary. 2. (C) On August 6, Senior Professional Staffer of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Carl Meacham met with Mayor Mauricio Macri, a center-right leader of the Argentine
opposition, in his office. They discussed the effect of the recent agricultural crisis on Argentina's political future and stability and the prospects for U.S.-Argentine relations. Mayor Macri was accompanied by his party's international affairs advisor Diego Guelar (Argentine former ambassador to the United States). Staffdel Meacham was accompanied by DCM, WHA/BSC Deputy Director Bruce Friedman, and Polintern. ----------------- The Kirchner Irony
------------------ 3. (C) Macri spoke frankly about the current Kirchner
administration. He said that Argentines would be "happy" for the Kirchners to fall (raising his glass of water, he said "if this glass of water was the Kirchners, everybody would fight to push it over") except for one factor -- they fear that the government's collapse would risk the country's return to the chaos of 2001-02. This lingering fear is, in
his view, the Kirchners' biggest advantage in the current political crisis. Macri went on to criticize the Kirchners for pushing their policies to the limit, further noting the surreal nature of the Argentine political environment and casting it as something akin to a television drama. 4. (C) Macri's advisors were less sanguine about the government's prospects. The PRO party's international affairs advisor Diego Guelar, Argentine former ambassador to the United States, said on the way out that he gives the government "60 days" before it falls. (COMMENT: Some perspective on Guelar's political handicapping track record: he predicted six months before last year's presidential }election that Nestor Kirchner, not CFK, would be the official presidential candidate. END COMMENT.) Macri on the Causes of Anti-Americanism 5. (C) Referring to Argentina's rampant anti-Americanism, Macri said it is encouraged by a presidency that has not constrained its criticisms of the United States. This is
compounded, he claimed, by the fact that the overall U.S. involvement in Argentina has been too "passive" and unwilling to directlychallenge the Kirchners' provocations, ultimately resulting in the perception that the United States is "never around," he noted. Argentines, in general, enjoy playing the "anti-American," he said, but in reality are very sensitive to U.S. criticism or lack of attention. He acknowledged that President Bush's focus on so many places around the world does not allow for active engagement with the Kirchners, who he said are consistently disrespecting and demonizing world leaders anyway. Nevertheless, Argentina needs better relations with the United States, Macri asserted. He urged the United States to recognize Argentina
independently of its neighbors, instead of grouping it with other countries such as Bolivia, Ecuador, and Venezuela.------------------------
Macri's Political Future ------------------------ 6. (C) Macri said the Kirchners view his current success as a threat to them. When asked about his future political prospects, Macri noted his positive ratings (currently above 40% in Buenos Aires polling) which are significantly better than CFK's positive ratings (slightly above 20% in national
polls), and noted the improvements already achieved in the first eight months of his tenure, mostly in the realm of infrastructure projects throughout the city. However, transferring control of the Federal Police in the capital from the national government to the municipality -- a central plank of his election campaign -- has stalled, he said.-------
Comment ------- 7. (C) Macri's demeanor, as usual, was serious, smiling only in disbelief at the melodrama of Argentine politics. Though expressing great disdain for the Kirchners, he appeared more concerned with the lack of continuity in Argentine politics.
He therefore views the completion of CFK's term through 2011 as imperative for Argentina's stability and credibility. Furthermore, the years ahead will give him an opportunity to prove his management capabilities while circumstances and the current administration's blunders builds support for someone who can define himself as the
diametric opposite of the Kirchners. However, Macri faces a
tremendous challenge in pulling together a divided and divisive opposition. Macri's comments about U.S. policy and Argentine anti-Americanism are similar to those he made recently to A/S Tom Shannon. He would clearly like the U.S. to take a tougher public line with the Kirchners. End Comment. 8. (U) This cable was cleared by Staffdel Meacham and WHA/BSC Deputy Director Friedman.
WAYNE

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