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Cablegate: Codel Price: Hdac Inaugurates Relationship With

VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHPE #1258/01 2392003
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 272003Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY LIMA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1123
INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION PRIORITY 2573
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA PRIORITY 6790
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 8498
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES PRIORITY 4074
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 1490
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ AUG 5277
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO PRIORITY 9809
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY 2737
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO PRIORITY 2591
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUMIAAA/USCINCSO MIAMI FL PRIORITY

UNCLAS LIMA 001258

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR PTER PE
SUBJECT: CODEL PRICE: HDAC INAUGURATES RELATIONSHIP WITH
PERU'S CONGRESS

REF: LIMA 1114

1. (U) Summary: The August 15-19 visit to Peru of Codel
Price -- representing the House Democracy Assistance
Commission (HDAC) -- inaugurated formal legislative to
legislative relations between the U.S. and Peruvian
Congresses. Codel discussions focused on four topics:
representation (constituent relations); Congress's oversight;
legislative research and analysis; and information
technology. Follow-on activities will include Peruvian
Congress and staff training in Washington, possible future
visits to Peru by staff or former members of Congress, and
ongoing exchanges of information. HDAC Chairman Price and
his colleagues underscored the importance of the legislative
branch in representing political constituencies, forging
solutions to social challenges and expanding the reach of
democracy -- strongly reinforcing the USG's top policy
priority in Peru. End Summary.

2. (U) The U.S. House Democracy Assistance Commission (HDAC)
Codel members visited Peru from August 15-19. Participating
were HDAC Chairman David Price (D -North Carolina), Ranking
Republican David Dreier (R-CA), Jim McDermott (D-WA), Lois
Capps (D -CA), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Sam Farr (D-CA),
Ed Whitfield (R-KY) and Brian Bilbray (R-CA). In addition to
formally initiating Congress-to-Congress ties, delegation
members visited Arequipa and the regional office of PPC
Congressman Juan Carlos Eguren, met with President Garcia and
PM Velazquez Quesquen (septel), and engaged in peer-to-peer
discussions on a range of topics with their congressional
counterparts. Staff-level discussions took place in parallel.

3. (U) Led by Congressman Price, HDAC's visit to Peru
inaugurated official ties between the U.S. House of
Representatives and Peru's Congress. Peru's inclusion as an
HDAC country sprang from a number of sources, including the
Peruvian Congressional leadership's interest in addressing
some of the legislature's institutional weaknesses and
reversing its low approval ratings. During an August 2008
courtesy call with the Ambassador, then-President of Congress
(and current PM) Velazquez Quesquen requested U.S.
insitutional support and subsequently created a special
congressional "modernization" group to carry the effort
forward. In February of this year, HDAC staff members
visited Peru to assess the merits of establishing a formal
relationship. This assessment resulted in Peru's being
selected as an HDAC partner and in identifying key areas of
potential cooperation. Codel Price's inaugural visit
culminated in the signing of a framework agreement between
the two legislatures that provides for the exchange of
information; knowledge sharing and consultations; and
training programs for members and staff.

Peer to Peer Exchanges
----------------------
4. (U) Codel Price focused on four topics: representation
and constituent relations; the oversight role of congress;
legislative research and analysis; and information
technology. The visit began in Arequipa, Peru's second
largest city and the informal capital of the southern
highlands. Codel Price visited the district office of
Congressman Juan Carlos Eguren in Arequipa, one of the most
advanced in Peru in terms of its mechanisms and procedures
for constituent outreach. (Eguren's office has received some
technical assistance from the International Republican
Institute in the context of USAID's political party
strengthening program.) U.S. members asked about the
structural challenges associated with providing constituent
services in large, multi-member congressional districts, and
their Peruvian counterparts allowed that in some cases it was
next to impossible. (Lima, for example, has 35 congress
people representing almost 10 million people at large.) In
Congress, the U.S. members held well-attended peer-to-peer
sessions with Peruvian members to discuss best practices in
constituent relations and outreach; Congressional oversight
of defense, trade, and budget issues; and the use of
technology in internal and external communications.

5. (SBU) In their meetings, U.S. representatives asked about
the role of the Peruvian Congress in addressing issues of

national interest, including helping resolve conflict such as
that which erupted in the Amazon region in June. Several
Peruvian counterparts pointed to a legacy of centralization
and a psychological mindset of relying on a strong executive
to resolve problems in acknowledging Congress' limited role
in this and other key areas. Peruvian legislators further
pointed out that they lacked important functions and
capabilities that the U.S. Congress had, most importantly the
power of the purse strings. In parallel, members of the
staff delegation from the Congressional Research Service
(CRS) and the Library of Congress held individual
consultations with the Peruvian Congress' research and
analysis unit and information technology department. U.S.
congressional staffers described the services they provide to
the U.S. Congress, and helped their counterparts prioritize
activities and areas for future development.

Future Areas for HDAC Assistance
--------------------------------
6. (U) A number of follow-on activities are already being
planned. For example, six Peruvian legislators will be
invited to Washington for a multi-country mid-October
training workshop on committee operations. (Post is working
with HDAC to identify and extend invitations to appropriate
members.) Two Peruvian staffers will be invited to
Washington to participate in a December parliamentary staff
institute training session focusing on legislative research.
HDAC staff also discussed the possibility of providing
further technical assistance in areas such as establishing a
budget office, legislative research design, IT disaster
recovery plans, and database design. Staff and/or former
members of Congress will also potentially participate in
future visits to Peru. The areas of concentration chosen will
depend on the political will and interest of Peru's Congress
to tackle weaknesses.

Comment: Legislative Relationship Can Strengthen Democracy
--------------------------------------------- -------------
7. (SBU) HDAC Chairman Price and his colleaugues underscored
the importance of the legislative branch in representing
political constituencies, forging solutions to social
challenges and expanding the reach of democracy. They
pointed out Congress's crucial role in absorbing messages
from different regions of the country, listening to different
sectors of the population and reflecting these diverse
concerns back to government entitities and actors in order to
improve the state's responsiveness to popular needs and
demands. They also highlighted the similar range of
challenges faced by the U.S. Congress, including widespread
skepticism reflected in low numbers for the institution as a
whole in public opinion polls. (This was balanced, however,
by generally high marks given most individual congressional
representatives by voters in their districts.) In sum, Codel
Price's central message regarding the importance of a
legislative power actively engaged in the country's
political, social and economic debates resonated strongly
with the USG's top policy priority in Peru: strengthen
democratic institutions, increase public confidence in
representative government and reduce latent popular support
for anti-democratic political projects.

8. (U) Codel Price cleared this message. (Septel will
address HDAC Codel's meeting with President Alan Garcia.)
NEALON

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