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Cablegate: Public Diplomacy Best Practices: Focusing On Social Issues

DE RUEHBU #1636/01 3371341
P 021341Z DEC 08




E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Public Diplomacy Best Practices: Focusing on Social Issues
in Argentina

Ref: Reftel: (A) BA 001588; (B) BA 000533

1. SUMMARY. The United States is often criticized in Latin America
for its lack of attention to social issues. To fight this
perception during the last two years, the U.S. Embassy in Buenos
Aires has led efforts to spotlight the major social issues in the
city and country, bringing media attention to bear on heroic efforts
to address problems which otherwise would have gone largely
unnoticed. We share below some of our best "lessons learned" and
most successful practices in our attempts to shed some light on
these critical issues with the minimal aid resources we have
available to us. END SUMMARY.

Highlighting the Battle Against
Human and Drug Trafficking

2. Human and drug trafficking are major problems in Argentina.
Argentina is a source, transit, and destination country for men,
women, and children trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual
exploitation and forced labor. It has also now moved from being a
largely drug-trade-transit country to a growing destination and
drug-consuming society. While we have no formal development
assistance program, Embassy Buenos Aries has found that we could be
a major catalyst for enhanced public attention to these scourges by
shedding light on and supporting the actions of courageous
individuals and effective organizations combating them.

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3. Embassy Buenos Aires has used Department calls for nominations
for the International Women of Courage (IWOC) award to highlight the
challenges Argentina faces in the areas of human and drug
trafficking. For example, we converted the IWOC nomination and
selection for anti-TIP activist Susana Trimarco de Veron into a
campaign to spotlight her valiant efforts to rescue hundreds of
trafficking victims in the search of her daughter, Marita, who is
believed to have been kidnapped by human traffickers for the
purposes of sexual exploitation. The Ambassador made a trip
hundreds of miles from Buenos Aires to the Province of Tucuman to
deliver remarks at the inauguration of Susana's Fundacion Maria de
Los Angeles. The event was widely reported in the Argentine media.
We encouraged other local media to focus on Trimarco's work. The
positive attention that we showered on the activist captured the
imagination of Argentina's cultural elites. Within a few months of
our IWOC nomination for Susana, there was a soap opera on national
television based on her story that soon became one of the top-rated
programs in the country. It just won an Emmy, and the Foreign
Minister told us up to 300 women and girls were freed as a result of
this program showing in Argentina. To continue our efforts, for the
International Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women on November
25, the Ambassador issued a statement praising the UN's decision to
host the premiere of the play Mika (based on the story of Susana
Trimarco de Veron's efforts on behalf of human rights) in New York.
Earlier this year, CNN International broadcast a piece across the
globe that emphasized Susana's relationship with the Embassy as key
to the progress made in Argentina on the issue. Her story may never
have become a cause celebre if we had not recognized and publicized
her efforts.

4. Other inspiring citizens -- including those fighting the scourge
of drug abuse in Argentina -- have received increased public
recognition and support as a result of Embassy social outreach
efforts. In 2008, for example, we nominated "Mothers Against Paco"
founder Maria Rosa Gonzalez for the IWOC award. This woman from the
slums has waged an uphill but brave battle to help young people -
including two of her own sons - addicted to "paco," a
cocaine-derivative similar to (and as devastatingly pernicious as)
crack. Mothers Against Paco have helped to raise awareness that
Argentina is now a destination country for narcotics, with
ever-increasing domestic consumption and accompanying social ills.
Acknowledging their efforts has helped help elevate the profile of
Mothers Against Paco's cause, and has enhanced prospects for
strengthened counter-narcotics cooperation from the Argentine
government as new drug trafficking challenges, such as the up-tick
in illegal ephedrine sales, emerge. One recent press editorial
praised the Ambassador's visit to Maria Rosa Gonzalez's slum on the
occasion of International Children's Day, and urged the Argentine
government to pay greater attention to this emerging epidemic, while
a weekly magazine this month highlighted her efforts and the
harrowing experiences of her now drug-free son.

Taking Advantage of the Resources At hand

5. The Mission's efforts to include other federal agencies in
pursuing our public diplomacy agenda on the TIP issue have also been
effective. For example, Post's Immigration and Customs Enforcement
(ICE) Attache Office brought down two ICE experts to address three
conferences on trafficking in persons (TIP) in June. Over the three
conferences, and working with federal and provincial officials, the
ICE experts trained over 500 civil society participants and 500

BUENOS AIR 00001636 002 OF 003

prosecutors, judges, and law enforcement officials at the federal,
provincial, and Mercosur levels. In September 2007, an ICE official
from Washington addressed the First National Trafficking in Persons
Conference in Mar del Plata. The official addressed the importance
of establishing TIP victim centers, and gave advice on how to get
the centers up and running.

6. We have also looked for opportunities to engage DOD outreach
efforts in order to shed light on and assist in addressing various
social ills in Argentina. In October, for example, the Defense
Attach's Office conducted a Humanitarian Airlift Mission to deliver
clothing, toys, and money to the small indigenous town of Santa
Victoria del Este, in the extreme northeast region of Salta, a few
miles from the Paraguay/Bolivia/Argentina border. The donations
were made to an order of Catholic missionary nuns called the
"Hermanas Franciscanas Misioneras de Santa Teresa del Este," who
work day and night providing food and shelter to the numerous
transient indigenous of the area. A special DOD flight brought a
monetary donation to repair radio equipment the nuns use to
broadcast public service announcements, educational information, and
spiritual support to the surrounding population.

7. In another case, a visiting U.S. ship delivered an ambulance as
a gift from a U.S. Rotary Club to a rural Argentina town. Also,
through the innovative use of Southern Command's Humanitarian
Assistance Minimal Cost Project Funds, the Embassy's Military Group
has donated a refrigerator, beds, and linens for 2007 IWOC winner
Susana Trimarco's victim shelter. In another case, the Military
Group bought furnishings for a children's center focused on drug
prevention directed by 2008 IWOC Nominee Maria Rosa Gonzalez in one
of the capital's most dangerous districts.

Highlighting Good Works: NGOs
and Corporate Social Responsibility

8. Bringing together Argentine NGOs and other organizations to form
ties that would lead to socially beneficial projects and
public-private partnerships is another Mission priority. In April
2008, the Buenos Aires NGO Fair (reftel B) brought together 60-plus
NGO representatives from across Argentina at the Ambassador's
residence to meet with 40 representatives from embassies,
international and domestic companies, and foundations. Following
two lively presentations on NGO development, the invitees
participated in a two-hour Fair in which funding sources hosted
booths, which were then visited by the NGOs. Both the NGOs and
business community were extremely happy with the event. As a result
of the event, one of our implementing partners, the Argentine
International Cooperation Network (RACI), recognized the need for
smaller NGOs to learn how to access international funding for their
projects. In November, they published a manual for NGOs on how to
apply for grants. Inspired by the success of the Embassy-sponsored
fair, the U.S.-based Ashoka Foundation sponsored its own fair
featuring socially conscious Argentine businesses in November.

9. Embassy Buenos Aires also visibly supports corporate social
responsibility. U.S. companies are important contributors to the
Argentine economy, with more than 500 U.S. firms active in the
country. Embassy Buenos Aires has worked hard to highlight the
positive CSR efforts U.S. companies have initiated to help support
communities in order to demonstrate the value of our commercial ties
and the positive impact U.S. firms have, nationally and locally.

10. The Ambassador's schedule regularly includes events to
highlight good corporate citizenship, which we emphasize in our
regular press releases, and which often garner extensive and
positive media coverage. Events in which the Ambassador has
participated include a visit to the Argentine Food Bank with primary
Bank-supporter Kraft Foods; participation in a "shoe drop" for
disadvantaged children with U.S.-based TomsShoes; a visit to a
reading room in San Juan Province financed by Clorox; and the
serving of Big Macs in support of Ronald McDonald House. To call
more public attention to the good works of U.S. firms, the Embassy
conducted its inaugural CSR Awards event in December 2007, in which
the Ambassador honored the Embassy's five nominations for the
Secretary of State's Award for Corporate Excellence (ACE). The
event took place at the Ambassador's residence and was attended by
numerous public and private officials, business contacts, and, of
course, prominent members of the media. A second edition of this
event is planned in December for the 2008 nominees.

Reaching out to Youth and the Disadvantaged

11. The Mission's Community Action Program (CAP) is designed to get
the Ambassador and other Mission personnel out into the community
(schools, charitable institutions, community organizations), where
they make donations (books, computers, other materials); interact
with young people, community leaders and journalists; and project a
different image than the one most people expect of American

BUENOS AIR 00001636 003 OF 003

diplomats. In the last two years, the Ambassador has visited NGOs,
public schools, and homeless shelters in many under-privileged areas
of the city of Buenos Aires and the provinces, donating a total of
approximately $23,000 in books, computers, appliances and
educational materials. Press releases are generated for visits when
CAP recipients are amenable, and events have received wide radio,
TV, and press coverage. In all cases, photos and stories about the
CAP donations are prominently displayed on the Embassy website.
Feedback from elites and slum dwellers alike has been very positive
-- many have said they were impressed that we would even venture
into these areas. One NGO, Por Decir, sent the Ambassador a letter
thanking him for visiting their drug rehab center. In the letter,
the NGO's leaders indicated that, as a result of this visit, they
had received numerous phone calls from concerned citizens asking how
they could help. The latest of our forays was in early December.
The Embassy partnered with an Argentine Foundation to install a
computer training center in a very tough Buenos Aires neighborhood
in a cooperative center with a local NGO and a continuing education

12. Perhaps the Mission's most innovative program, our Music
Outreach Program, has leveraged Argentine fascination with American
popular music to promote good local causes. A Music Committee
staffed by Embassy volunteers reaches out to the many U.S. pop,
rock, jazz, and Latin acts that visit Buenos Aires with requests to
join the Ambassador and other Mission staff in a community outreach
activity. The scale of the outreach activity varies from inviting
underprivileged youth to attend a concert; meet-and-greets with the
artists to benefit concerts; and even abbreviated concerts in soup
kitchens or other social organizations. The activity ultimately
depends on the comfort level of visiting performers and local
concert promoters.

13. Highlights of our music outreach include:

-- a Cyndi Lauper concert in which the artist not only talked
backstage with HIV-infected youth, but invited them onstage to dance
and sing along to "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun";

-- a Black Eyed Peas concert at the Pepsi Music Festival where the
band met with a group of young students (none of whom had ever been
to a concert before) from Virreyes, a poor barrio in Greater Buenos
Aires, and talked with them about building a good future for

-- a concert at a soup kitchen by country singer Brandon Pruitt,
which introduced kids and parents to this type of music in an open
and friendly manner;

-- a master class by world class violinist Joshua Bell held at the
Ambassador's residence with members of the youth orchestra of Buenos
Aires made up of underprivileged kids;

-- performances at a soup kitchen, drug rehabilitation clinic and
the Ambassador's residence by Latin-fusion groupQzoMatli, which
inspired kids with music and the band members' own stories of
overcoming hardship;

-- meetings between Grammy Award-winning band Toto, guitar hero Joe
Santini, and alternative Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and young
musicians in which band members answered their questions about
becoming music professionals; and

-- a master class for more than 400 music students conducted by the
talented banjo player Bela Fleck and electric bass player Victor
Wooden, which wowed the kids with friendly and inspiring

Keeping the Focus on Social Issues

14. Post will continue to use whatever public diplomacy tools we
can find to expand our focus on and involvement in the critical
Argentine social issues mentioned above. For example, we are
significantly expanding our English-teaching program throughout the
country, particularly to strong students who cannot otherwise afford
to study the language. We will also continue to act as a conduit -
spotlighting for the media worthwhile causes and heroic efforts to
address the social ills the country faces. In this way, we will
show a side of the United States with which many in Latin America
are unfamiliar. In our view, this approach is an effective way to
reduce anti-Americanism in the region despite the fact that we have
very few financial resources to devote to our projects. It is also
the kind of diplomacy that feels good to carry out - which is why
we've managed to support most of these activities with Mission

081201 social outreach cable draft

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