Cablegate: Argentina: President's Tough Unga Speech


DE RUEHBU #1456/01 2971830
R 231830Z OCT 08



E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (SBU) Summary: Argentine President Fernandez de Kirchner
used her September 23 speech to the UNGA to appeal to a
number of domestic constituencies, encapsulating a number of
Kirchner governance themes and putting them in the context of
a multilateralist, anti-neo-liberal framework. The speech,
foreshadowed September 22 by her remarks at the Council on
Foreign Relations, was critical of U.S. unilateralism and
highlighted supposed inconsistencies in U.S.-promoted
economic orthodoxy based on the U.S. Government's unfolding
reaction to the financial crises. She paired her critique of
liberal economic policies with what was undoubtedly intended
as a reassuring description of Argentina's renewed efforts to
negotiate with holdout bondholders (reftel B). She described
Latin American nations as overcoming differences to approach
regional crises in an effective, multilateral manner, and she
called for a restructuring of multilateral institutions,
including the United Nations and international financial
institutions. Fernandez de Kirchner included in her remarks,
as her husband had done in his 2003-07 UNGA addresses, a
strong demand that Iran hand over to Argentina for a fair and
transparent trial those individuals under international
warrant through Interpol for the bombings of the
Argentine-Israeli Mutual Association (AMIA) in 1994. She
also included an appeal to the United Kingdom to accept
repeated Argentine calls to begin negotiations over the
future of the Malvinas Islands (Falklands). President
Kirchner's speech appeared designed to appeal to several
constituencies, including a hard left that is critical of any
international debt repayment by Argentina. Her remarks also
reflect her genuine world view regarding Latin American-led
multilateralism and state management of the economy.

2. (SBU) This speech was clearly important to the Casa Rosada
(presidential palace), which posted the transcript within
hours on its website. It was likely perceived as a key to
the President's efforts to regain leadership following the
reverses caused by the government's conflict with the farm
sector and ongoing revelations of Venezuelan contributions to
her campaign. The fact that the star witness in the Franklin
Duran prosecution, Guido Antonini-Wilson (A-W), was brought
to the stand later that same day in Miami, overshadowing
Kirchner's speech in local press coverage, likely causing
more consternation in the GOA. The press gave greatest
coverage to A-W's claim that he had been told there was
another USD 4.2 million on the flight from Venezuela on
August 4, that he had been to the Casa Rosada following his
arrival in country (contradicting subsequent GOA denials),
and that he had taken responsibility for the discovered
suitcase with USD 800,000 on behalf of former GOA Ministry of
Planning official Claudio Uberti. End Summary.

Iran Called Out, Human Rights

3. (SBU) In her September 22 speech to the Council on Foreign
Relations (CFR) in New York and her address at the United
Nations General Assembly (UNGA) the following day, President
Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner (CFK) laid out a forceful
Argentine agenda within the multilateral system. She
encouraged states to ratify the International Convention for
the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances, a
convention important to Argentina given its tragic history
under military dictatorship and for which Argentina currently
was just one of four parties. In this context, she lauded
the work of the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo (now part
of the pro-Kirchner base) for their efforts to identify the
children of disappeared political prisoners from the 1970s
and early 1980s. She noted the work of the Argentine
Forensic Anthropology Team (EAAF), as well as similar teams
in Guatemala and Peru, in developing a blood bank to help
identify the remains of political dissidents who were killed
in those countries (but negelected to mention that the USG
had provided EAAF USD 1.4 million for the effort).

4. (SBU) CFK made a strong demand that Iran surrender for
prosecution in Argentina those individuals suspected of

involvement in the 1994 bombing of the Argentine-Israeli
Mutual Association (AMIA). She noted that Argentina had gone
through INTERPOL to generate international warrants, and she
pledged to Iran that the individuals would receive fair and
transparent public trials in Argentina, "with the guarantees
offered by a democratic system." Argentina's Jewish
community reacted immediately, with the Delegation of
Argentine-Israeli Associations (DAIA) issuing a laudatory
statement. The President's statement on Iran amplified a
similarly strong message by her husband, then-President
Nestor Kirchner, at the UNGA in 2007 (reftel A) and previous
years. DAIA, on September 24, qualified its praise by
pointing out its displeasure with growing trade between
Argentina and Iran (see Ref C).

The New Multilateralism

5. (SBU) Although CFK did not explicitly criticize the United
States in her two speeches, our country was clearly the
object of her critical commentary in much of the speech. At
the CFR, she argued that the "violation of multilateralism"
in the U.S. reaction to September 11 had "made the world more
insecure" and that "universal and multilateral" decisions
were required to legitimize the war on terror. She
characterized as positive the political evolution of South
America, describing leaders like President Evo Morales of
Bolivia and Lula Ignacio da Silva in Brazil as more
representative of the majority of their citizens. She noted
at the UNGA that despite differing perspectives on governance
among the Latin American capitals, the region's countries
were increasingly coming together to address challenges to
peace and security, first in the Rio Group's intervention in
the tension between Colombia and Ecuador following Colombia's
cross border attack on a FARC base and then via UNASUR to
deal with internal tensions in Bolivia this September. "I
want to emphasize with these examples that for us the
commitment to multilateralism is not just rhetoric, but a
profound conviction," she said, "and also a concrete
political mechanism that can produce results in what is
normally called the developing world -- that we are able to
offer examples on the use of multilateralism to overcome

6. (U) At the CFR, Kirchner was more specific about calls to
reform the United Nations and the Security Council, calling
for the inclusion on the latter of new regional actors to
create a more balanced and stable international system.
Asked what she hoped to see from the next American President,
CFK said "we hope for the reconstruction of multilateralism,"
which in her view would give renewed legitimacy to the fight
against terrorism and narco-trafficking and better serve
global and U.S. interests.

We Told You So -- But It Gives Us No Pleasure

7. (U) The heart of CFK's remarks centered on a description
of Argentina's management of its own financial crisis,
culminating in the GOA's consideration of a deal with several
banks representing remaining bond holdouts -- on more
favorable terms for Argentina than before, she claimed (ref
B). She drew sharp lessons from the U.S. financial crisis,
noting that "today they can't talk of a tequila, a caipirinha
or a rice effect, or of whatever effect they name it based on
the developing country from which it came and spread toward
the center. Today, if we had to give it a name, perhaps it
would be the jazz effect." "This doesn't make us happy or
give us satisfaction," she insisted, "but offers a chance to
revise policies and behaviors where previously, during the
period of the Washington Consensus, the nations of South
America had been told that the State was not necessary, that
state interventionism was a throw-back by those groups that
didn't understand modern economics." Instead, she
emphasized, "the largest state economic intervention in
memory has been generated in the very place where they told
us that the State was no longer necessary."

8. (SBU) Building further on these points, CFK included a
short discourse on economics, suggesting that only those
profits built on the production of goods, services and

knowledge were legitimate or sustainable, implicitly in
contrast to capital accumulation. "Money alone does not
produce more money," she said, arguing that the world's
financial crisis had grown out of a "casino" or "fictional"
economy in the United States.


9. (U) Building on her theme of multilateralism, CFK also
included a full appeal to the United Kingdom to begin
negotiating with Argentina over the status of the Malvinas
Islands (Falklands). She couched the appeal as a
continuation of the United Nations' historic work of
de-colonization and emphasized that Argentina's claim of
sovereignty over the Malvinas as "state policy," transcending
politics and parties.

Speech Reaction and Antonini-Wilson Revelations
--------------------------------------------- --

10. (SBU) Online papers and the television news on September
23 quickly highlighted CFK's term "jazz effect", identifying
the speech as a major critique of U.S. unilateralism and
financial management. The President's mid-day speech,
however, was soon chased out of the news cycle by the
testimony in the late afternoon of Venezuelan-American Guido
Antonini-Wilson (A-W). The A-W revelations dominated most
headlines (Pagina 12 kept the CFK speech, with picture and a
quote, front and center, but La Nacion and Clarin put A-W
above the fold while CFK's discourse barely made the front
page). La Nacion further provided a play-by-play of the
Kirchners' movements and gestures in a New York hotel lobby
as the A-W revelations emerged.

11. (U) Garnering the greatest sustained attention from the
Duran trial was A-W's statement that Venezuelan State
Petroleum Company (PDVSA) Vice President Diego Uzcategui had
told him another USD 4.2 million had been on the plane,
presumably moved through customs in other suitcases without
inspection. In addition, A-W contended that GOA Highway
Tolls Commissioner Claudio Uberti, the only official to lose
his job over the scandal, had thanked him for taking
responsibility for the USD 800,000 when it was discovered by
airport security. He also affirmed that he had been in the
Casa Rosada following the incident at the airport and was
briefly greeted there by Planning Minister Julio De Vido,
something that De Vido and the GOA have denied.

12. (SBU) GOA reaction to the revelations out of Miami were
muted. In Buenos Aires, Cabinet Chief Sergio Massa focused
on the need for A-W to testify in Argentina, noting that A-W
was, however, presently "collaborating with U.S. justice in a
criminal case against Venezuela for espionage" in a U.S.
federal court in Miami. Massa said Argentina had three times
requested A-W's extradition so that he could help clarify the
purpose of the $800,000, and that he would welcome any
contribution that A-W's testimony might make in sending the
responsible parties to prison. Also in Buenos Aires,
Interior Minister Florencio Randazzo dismissed A-W's
presentation in Miami as "not very serious" and said the GOA
did not find any merit in A-W's statements. Randazzo
questioned A-W's claim that he had acknowledged to GOA
authorities ownership of the suitcase only because he was in
a hurry to get out of the airport on August 4, 2007.
Randazzo said A-W had no evidence to prove that there was
another $4.2 million on the same flight. In New York,
Argentine Ambassador Hector Timerman told "Clarin" that "I
still think that A-W will say any garbage to keep from
getting extradited to Buenos Aires. For me, it's like
getting Gordo Valor (a locally well-known head of a criminal
organization currently in prison) to testify."

Comment: Subdued GOA Reaction Thus Far

13. (SBU) Comment: We interpret CFK's provocative remarks, as
well as last week's schadenfreude-laden remarks regarding
U.S. financial difficulties (Buenos Aires 1309), as an
attempt by this populist government to appease its base with
left-leaning rhetoric while its economic policy becomes

increasingly orthodox. Over the past two weeks, on the
high-profile issues of the Paris Club, holdouts, and utility
tariff increases, GOA policy is moving in exactly the
direction that the "Washington Consensus" would prescribe.
We are certainly not out of the woods yet on the GOA's
reaction to Miami, but do take some satisfaction from the
fact that the initial comments described in para 13 seem
relatively subdued, and that CFK went ahead with
participation in the Secretary General's dinner on September
23 with the knowledge that A-W was already on the witness
stand in Miami. Photos of CFK with President Bush were
published in most papers and may be viewed as an indicator of
GOA intentions to maintain the bilateral relationship, albeit
one in which criticisms of U.S. policy are freely given. End

© Scoop Media

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