Cablegate: (S/Nf) Brazil's Involvement in Conflict Between Colombia and Venezuela (C-Al9-02389)
DE RUEHBR #1369/01 3292045
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
R 252045Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY BRASILIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5485
INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 0058
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 0028
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES 0013
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 0006
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ 0005
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA 0012
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO 0012
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 0003
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 0020
RUEHRG/AMCONSUL RECIFE 0137
RUEHRI/AMCONSUL RIO DE JANEIRO 0065
RUEHSO/AMCONSUL SAO PAULO 0109
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 BRASILIA 001369
DEPARTMENT FOR WHA, INR
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/25/2019
TAGS: PINR PREL BR CO VE
SUBJECT: (S/NF) BRAZIL'S INVOLVEMENT IN CONFLICT BETWEEN COLOMBIA AND VENEZUELA (C-AL9-02389)
REF: A. SECSTATE 120006
B. BRASILIA 1342
Classified By: Political Counselor Stephen M. Liston, reasons 1.4 (b) a nd (d)
1. (S/NF) Below is initial post response to questions posed ref A regarding Brazil's involvement in the conflict between Venezuela and Colombia. Assessments are based on a number of meetings with and public statements by senior officials over the last several weeks, as well as a meeting November 24 between PolCouns and acting chief of the Ministry of External Relations (MRE) South America II (Andean) Department, Counselor Carla Barroso Carneiro. - - - Strategy? What Strategy? - - -
2. (S/NF) The GOB does not appear to have a strategy per se for reducing tensions, but is seeking opportunities to engage both countries to encourage dialogue and reduce tensions and instability. Citing the lack of troop movements as evidence that neither side was intent on conflict, Carneiro said that Brazil hopes for a gradual easing of tensions, as happened between Colombia and Ecuador. According to Carneiro, the GOB stands ready to help as requested, but does not feel the need to be involved if others can mediate more successfully.
3. (S/NF) Although new Deputy Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota told Charge November 18 that the November 26 Amazon leaders summit would provide an opporunity to discuss the conflict, Carneiro said there is no bilateral meeting scheduled between Chavez and Uribe, and Brazil is making no effort to plan to arrange one. We believe it is likely, however, that President Lula and Presidential Foreign Policy Marco Aurelio Garcia will make some effort to organize a meeting on the spot if it appears it would be productive. - - -
South America Should Handle Its Own Problems - - -
4. (S/NF) Carneiro also cited the November 27 UNASUL meeting in Quito as another possible forum for addressing the conflict, although Brazilian congressional contacts recently returned from Bogota told Consulate Recife that Uribe refused to attend. Asked about Brazil's view on whether the UN, OAS, or UNASUL would be the preferred forum, Carneiro said that Brazil's goal is to reduce instability and the GOB would support efforts in any forum, but that Brazil's preference is for "South America to manage its own problems" via UNASUL, a consistent refrain of GOB officials.
5. (S/NF) Carneiro and other officials maintain that it is not Brazil's place to judge between the two sides. However, Brazil has consistently dismissed President Chavez's talk of war as inconsequential while insisting that Colombia should provide assurances to the region that it will respect other nations' sovereignty.
- - - U.S.-Colombia DCA a Continuing Issue - - -
6. (S/NF) Although Patriota deflected responsibility onto Colombia (ref B), Brazil continues to express both public and private concern with the U.S.-Colombia DCA, despite repeated U.S. assurances and explanations, the publication of the text, and Lula's own pronouncement during Uribe's visit this month that he was satisfied with Uribe's explanation. GOB concerns have been fanned by public USG documents that suggest the United States has regional or extra-regional reasons to use the bases, rather than purely domestic assistance to Colombia. While ackowledging Colombia's right to sign the accord and insisting that the issue should not harm U.S.-Brazil relations, Carneiro noted Brazil's continuing annoyance that it was "presented with a fait accompli" rather than being consulted before the document became public.
- - - Comment: Lack of Trust Meets Core Security Concerns - - -
BRASILIA 00001369 002 OF 002
7. (S/NF) Brazil continues to view itself in competition with the United States in South America and does not trust U.S. intentions, in particular with regard to the Amazon, Brazil's efforts at regional integration, and, more recently, Brazil's off-shore oil. While acknowledging the sovereign right of countries to conduct relations with the United States as they see fit, the fact is that Brazilians view with suspicion any U.S. presence or activity in South America (to include foreign assistance, energy or infrastructure cooperation, U.S. NGO activities, or USG law enforcement cooperation, as well as military activities). At the same time, Brazil has an almost neurotic need to be and be seen to be the equal of the United States, and has taken to heart U.S. messaging regarding Brazil as the regional leader to which we look to manage problems in South America.
8. (S/NF) It is these two aspects of our relations that, together, have made the U.S.-Colombia DCA so problematic for Brazil. On the one hand, the GOB sees the U.S. presence as encroachment on its turf, a threat to its leadership and--both directly and, because of the tensions created with Venezuela, indirectly--to its security. On the other hand, it feels betrayed by the USG's failure to acknowledge Brazil's primacy in the region by consulting in advance on our activities in South America, and especially those with regional security implications.
9. (S/NF) Brazil's overriding goal in South America is stability, and it sees the possibility of a war between Colombia and Venezuela--or any of its other neighbors--as a direct threat to its security. The GOB does not trust either Chavez or Uribe to act wisely, but at present sees Uribe as the bigger threat to stability, in part because Colombia's excursion into Ecuador last year showed what it can and will do, and in part because of his U.S. backing. Under Lula, the GOB has preferred to use personal presidential contacts, combined with more intense minister-level contacts, to manage relations with and among its more difficult neighbors. This is likely to be the primary method Brazil will use to lower tensions in this instance.