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Cablegate: Argentine National Prayer Breakfast

VZCZCXYZ0002
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBU #1633 3361928
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 011928Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2586
INFO RUCNMER/MERCOSUR COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS BUENOS AIRES 001633

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM SCUL AR
SUBJECT: Argentine National Prayer Breakfast

1. (U) Argentina's small but growing Evangelical community held its
annual prayer breakfast on November 27 with the participation of
Argentine Vice President Julio Cobos and four national deputies of
the center-right PRO party, led by Buenos Aires mayor Mauricio
Macri, and a range of civic leaders. The breakfast, attended by 300
(including the Ambassador), was marked by calls for renewal of
values, tolerance, and the importance of individual integrity.
International participants included Bolivian Senator Roger Pinto
Molina, who called for forgiveness, tolerance of different points of
view and the peaceful resolution of conflicts. Argentina's
evangelical community has strong ties to the United States, and its
small but talented group of representatives in the Chambers of
Deputies share positive views of the U.S. and a conviction about the
need for Argentina to improve the integrity of its political system.


2. (U) The Prayer Breakfast brought together about 300, well-to-do
members of Argentina's growing evangelical community and others who
share the vision of cleaner, more honest government. This
seventeenth annual Prayer Breakfast was organized and led by
Congresswoman Cynthia Hotton, an Argentine diplomat and member of
the center-right Republican Proposal (PRO) Party party of Buenos
Aires Mayor Mauricio Macri. Modeled on the event held annually in
Washington D.C., the breakfast features prayers for the future of
Argentina and its leaders, and is open to all denominations. A
rabbi participated in the presentations, as did pastors from several
denominations and representatives of well-respected NGOs Conciencia
and CIPPEC. True to its promise, the breakfast was filled with
inspiring talks and prayers for Argentina's leaders, including
President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, who is a political
opponent of the vast majority of those present.

3. (SBU) Vice President Julio Cobos, who is alienated from President
Kirchner and her allies because of his vote against the government's
proposed tax on farmer exports, gave the keynote speech. He
stressed the importance of Argentina restoring respect for values:
keeping one's word, honesty, mutual respect, tolerance for different
points of view, and freedom of thought and speech. He was very
warmly received.

4. (SBU) Bolivian Senate leader H. Roger Pinto Molina was the
primary international guest speaker. He quoted from the New
Testament in calling for forgiveness, tolerance, and peaceful
reconciliation of political differences. In private conversation
with the Ambassador, the Senator lamented the expulsion of his
friend, Ambassador Phil Goldberg, from Bolivia and President
Morales's decision to expel the DEA from Bolivia. He said this was
the price Morales had to pay to the cocaleros who supported his
election, and that the moves were all part of Morales' effort to try
to create enemies around which to rally political support.

5. (U) The overriding message from the speakers was the importance
of renewal and individual commitment to bringing about change in the
practices and morals of Argentina: each person can make a
difference, even if supporters of a more ethically upright Argentina
seem to be few in number.

6. (U) Argentina's evangelical community continues to grow. It has
held rallies attracting more than a hundred thousand in Buenos Aires
in the past year to hear popular visiting pastors. Southern
California pastor Rick Warren held a well-highly attended set of
talks here several months ago, for example, and many local pastors
and churches have ties to fellow believers in the U.S. This
community seems to have a good representation in the center-right
PRO party. Four of its nine Congressional members attended the
breakfast and one of them, Eugenio Burzaco, leads a regular prayer
group in Argentina's Congress.

WAYNE

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