Cablegate: Argentina: Ambassador Meets Buenos Aires Mayor
DE RUEHBU #1222/01 3162059
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 122059Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4623
INFO RUCNMER/MERCOSUR COLLECTIVE
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/CJCS WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
C O N F I D E N T I A L BUENOS AIRES 001222
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/09/2029
TAGS: PREL PGOV ASEC AMGT AR
SUBJECT: ARGENTINA: AMBASSADOR MEETS BUENOS AIRES MAYOR
Classified By: Ambassador Martinez for reasons 1.4 (b) & (d).
1. (C) Summary: Buenos Aires city mayor Mauricio Macri let
slip to the Ambassador that he intends to run for president
in 2011. He criticized the Kirchners for the failure of
their economic model, for the country's growing crime
problems, and for alienating the United States. He also
reiterated past criticisms that the USG was "too soft" on the
Kirchners. The Ambassador said Washington remained fully
committed to deepening and strengthening relations with
Argentina. Macri also reiterated an earlier invitation for
the United States government to build a new site in prime
real estate in downtown Buenos Aires. End Summary.
2. (U) Mayor Macri received the Ambassador for an
introductory call at City Hall on November 9. He was
accompanied by his Secretary General Marcos Pena,
international relations advisor Diego Guelar (former
ambassador to the United States), and city international
relations department chief Fulvio Pompeo. The Ambassador was
accompanied by DCM and polcouns (notetaker).
Macri's Take on the Kirchners
3. (C) The Ambassador asked about relations between the city,
the province and the federal government, particularly in
coordinating police coverage and public security. Macri
bluntly said, "There are no relations with the Kirchner
administration at all." He said he would be meeting with
President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner later that day, but
that it was only the second time in almost two years that
they have met. He said the GOA had not been receptive to
city overtures to discuss jurisdiction responsibilities to be
divided between the new metropolitan police force and the
PFA. Indeed, Macri said he suspected the GOA was
deliberately fostering havoc in the streets in order to
sabotage his new metropolitan police force from the outset.
4. (C) The Ambassador said she had noticed in the press that
a judge had dismissed charges against (Kirchner-allied
"piquetero" social activist) Luis D'Elia for seizing a police
station despite the strong evidence against him, including
videotape of D'Elia. Macri said he considered the court
ruling a prime example of judicial susceptibility to
intimidation, but he also said he believed the decision would
5. (C) The Ambassador noted that Macri, like many other
Argentines she had spoken with, had used the word "fear" in
describing the current political climate. Macri said the
Kirchners often succeeded by bullying their opponents and
critics, but now that 80% of the Argentine public reject the
Kirchners, he thought the media were pushing back against the
Kirchners where political and business leaders had not. He
reprised an earlier conversation with then-WHA A/S Shannon
regarding the need to set limits on the Kirchners'
misbehavior and the USG's supposed "softness" on the
Kirchners. He argued that the USG's "silence" on the abusive
mistreatment it suffered at the hands of the Kirchners (such
as at the 2005 Mar del Plata Summit of the Americas) had
encouraged more of the same.
6. (C) Macri also ridiculed the Kirchners for touting an
economic "model" that had left 30% of Argentines in poverty.
"What kind of model is that?" he asked.
7. (C) Macri said the Kirchners had succeeded in alienating
Washington to the point where Washington did not care what
Argentina (unlike Brazil or Chile) had to say about anything.
The Ambassador sought to disabuse Macri of that notion,
arguing that Washington remained fully committed to deepening
and strengthening relations with Argentina. She pointed out
that Washington was keenly aware of Argentina's position in
the world as an agricultural powerhouse and of Argentine
cooperation, actual and potential. As an example, she cited
Argentina's role in developing satellites to be launched by
NASA as evidence of Washington's appreciation for the
high-tech value that Argentina could bring to bear.
8. (C) In discussing agricultural trade, Macri let slip his
presidential ambitions for 2011. He said beef exports may
not be an issue for the Kirchners (because they want to keep
beef at home), but beef will be an issue for him in a couple
of years (i.e., when he is president).
New Embassy Building?
9. (C) Macri also asked about USG plans to relocate the
Embassy and referred to a previous offer to provide a site
for a new office building. (The site is located in downtown
Buenos Aires, less than two miles from the Casa Rosada, in an
old industrial area that the city wishes to develop into an
upscale neighborhood that would include a number of Embassies
-- see 08 Buenos Aires 1564.) The Ambassador and DCM
explained (as we did in late 2008 after consulting with
Washington) that the Department was committed to finding a
site that would conform to new security requirements, but
that the size of the project and more pressing demands
elsewhere meant that it would be several more years before
the project could get underway in Buenos Aires.
10. (C) The meeting was another reminder of Macri's
directness, his Manichean view of the world, and his
discomfort with the niceties of interpersonal communication
(he cut off the meeting abruptly after about twenty minutes).
These are all qualities that he shares with Nestor Kirchner,
his bitter political rival. Macri's insistence that the USG
publicly reproach the Kirchners for their various
transgressions suggests an unrealistic desire that Washington
do the opposition's bidding. Nonetheless, the mayor remains
one of the top contenders for the 2011 presidential race
(arguably the second most competitive candidate, after Vice
President Julio Cobos). We will continue to engage him
actively as the elections approach.