Cablegate: Embassy Brasilia
DE RUEHBR #1360/01 3281820
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 241820Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY BRASILIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5460
INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 0056
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES 0011
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 0004
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ 0003
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO 0010
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 0018
RUEHRG/AMCONSUL RECIFE 0129
RUEHRI/AMCONSUL RIO DE JANEIRO 0057
RUEHSO/AMCONSUL SAO PAULO 0101
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BRASILIA 001360
FOR WHA, WHA/BSC, WHA/AND
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/28/2019
TAGS: PGOV PREL SNAR AR BR BL PY
REF: SECSTATE 114036 Classified By: Political Counselor Stephen M. Liston, reason 1.4(b) and (d)
1. SUMMARY. In a meeting November 19 with PolCouns, Brazilian Ministry of External Relations (MRE) South America 1 (Southern Cone) Department head Minister Joao Luiz Pereira Pinto (protect) described Brazil-Bolivia relations as frustrating and indicated a continuing interest in trilateral counternarcotics efforts with the United States after the elections. Pinto described Brazil's efforts to engage a difficult Argentine government more intensely in light of current trade disputes, and expressed no concern about the recent changes of military chiefs in Paraguay. End Summary.
- - - BOLIVIA: BILATERAL FRUSTRATION, TRILATERAL INTEREST - - -
2. (C) During a friendly discussion November 19, PolCouns delivered points reftel to Pereira Pinto regarding our continuing dialogue with Bolivia. Pinto was grateful for the information and expressed continued interest in finding ways to cooperate after the Bolivian elections. Pinto described the current Brazil-Bolivia relationship as frustratingly difficult to manage, noting Bolivia has no ambassador in Brasilia, that Brazilian offers of assistance have gone unanswered, and that where Bolivia has agreed to training or consultations, it has sent unqualified candidates or low-level officials with no authority to make decisions.
3. (C) PolCouns asked whether press reports of three recent intercepts by the Brazilian Air Force (BRAF) of drug aircraft coming from Bolivia into Brazil signaled greater intelligence sharing. Pinto said that he did not believe so, but acknowledged that information sharing between the BRAF, federal police, and MRE was not good, and that there was no systematic effort to collect statistics on what was coming across the border.
4. (C) Pinto's principal preoccupation with Bolivia stemmed from a Brazilian federal deputy's effort to block the donation of four helicopters to Bolivia--Brazil's sole response to a request by Bolivia for assistance after DEA was expelled. The problem arose out of concern that the Bolivian government was forcing Brazilians resident in Bolivia to leave the country. According to Pinto, although Bolivia had two years ago required the few hundred Brazilians to move out of a fifty-kilometer band along the border, they had been offered resettlement within Bolivia. However, Brazil's "roving consulate" (a van that offers consular services to the dispersed Brazlian population in the border area) has recently found that, with the situation deteriorating, most Brazlians now prefer to return to Brazil.
5. (C) Comment: Although we find that Brazilian diplomats posted abroad are often much more amenable to working with the United States than their counterparts in Brasilia, in this case, it appears that there is broad and high-level interest in working with the USG. Even the normally prickly head of the MRE transnational crimes department has conceded a need to work together on this issue. Nonetheless, we will need to proceed carefully on the law enforcement side to avoid activating Brazilian sensitivities over sovereignty and any appearance of a less than fully equal partnership. End comment.
- - - ARGENTINA: FOR A TROUBLESOME NEIGHBOR, MORE ATTENTION - - -
6. (C) With Argentine President Kirchner having visited that morning, Pinto told PolCouns that the visit had been important to "reduce tensions." But the Argentines did not understand that Brazil could not overlook in an election year trade barriers that might not otherwise have been a significant issue. Pinto did not have kind words for the GOA, describing Kirchner's government as "authoritarian without any of the tools of authoritarianism." He noted that, whereas Brazilian polling showed Argentine media and academic opinion had become much more positive with regard to Brazil over the past year, government opinion--for which, he said,
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read the Foreign Ministry--was still overwhelmingly negative. Suffering from problems of its own making, he said, the GOA was seeking to blame Brazil.
7. (C) For Pinto, the most notable development of the Lula-Kirchner meeting had been the agreement to meet even more frequently--every 90 days, with a commission of the Brazilian ministers of foreign affairs, trade (MDIC), and finance, and the Argentine ministers of foreign affairs, economy, industry meeting every 45 days. Comment: The strategy bears a remarkable resemblance to Lula's approach with Venezuelan President Chavez, with whom he also holds quarterly meetings. As the potential for conflict with neighbors rises, Lula sees personal, presidential-level contact, combined with more frequent ministerial-level contacts, as the best way to reduce tensions and minimize conflicts, particularly where resolution of the problems might not be possible at lower levels or in the short term. End comment.
- - - PARAGUAY: BUSINESS AS USUAL - - -
8. (C) Asked about how Brazil saw the recent replacement of military chiefs in Paraguay, Pinto said that Brazil did not see any cause for concern. Because the Paraguayan Minister of Defense is not the most senior official in the chain of command, he said, it frequently creates rivalries that need to be managed. For Pinto, the issue of most concern continues to be the handling of thousands of so-called "Braziguayos," Brazilians who have settled, often illegally, in Paraguay and whose status and rights are a constant irritant in relations.