Cablegate: Head of Brazil's Haiti Relief Efforts Reports Good

DE RUEHBR #0062/01 0221222
O R 221220Z JAN 10



E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Head of Brazil's Haiti Relief Efforts Reports Good
Coordination with USG


1. (SBU) In a meeting with the Charg???? d'Affaires, a.i., Lisa Kubiske on January 19, Brazil's coordinator for Brazil's Haiti emergency relief effort, Minister Jorge Armando Felix, head of the Institutional Security Cabinet (GSI) at the Presidency, said he was pleased with bilateral coordination and relayed a request from the military to place a liaison officer with the U.S. unit managing the airport to ensure coordination on Brazilian flights. He said that Brazil would turn distribution of relief supplies over to the UN, GOH, or USG "as soon as the organization is sufficient," and indicated that he expected to be supervising Brazil's relief efforts for some time. Felix is planning to visit Haiti on January 24, a day after Foreign Minister Celso Amorim visits. In a January 20 discussion, Foreign Ministry (MRE) Under Secretary for Political Affairs Vera Machado did not identify any problems either, but indicated that Brazil's UN Permanent Representative, Maria Luiza Viotti, had indicated that "more cooperation" is needed. Both Felix and Machado said that media were creating problems by playing up small incidents. Over the longer term, Brazil's cooperation agency (ABC) is interested in partnering with USAID on post-crisis development projects. Post believes that USG efforts, especially those by SouthCom, to engage the GOB and Brazilian media have succeeded in reducing perceptions of a lack of coordination, but the Brazilian MRE in particular remains sensitive to any perception that its equities are not being considered. End summary.

2. (SBU) Felix was pleased with the effort to coordinate our emergency assistance efforts; he said that, from what he knows, there have been very few problems, although the media was at times unhelpful in its portrayal of U.S. efforts and in playing up problems getting some Brazilian planes into the airport at Port au Prince. Felix said he had been clear in speaking with the press that there is no question whatsoever of confrontation between our countries, and that in fact the coordination has been excellent. (Comment: Most other GOB contacts are giving us the same message, and recent GOB comments to the press have generally been very favorable. End comment.)

3. (SBU) Asked whether there were additional ways we could improve coordination, Felix said the Brazilian Air Force was seeking to put in place a "liaison officer" at the airport in Port au Prince to coordinate Brazil's air traffic control needs with USG controllers. (Note: SouthCom has since agreed to this request. End note.) Felix said that congestion at the airport was "natural" and "to be expected." He did not see this as a major issue.

4. (SBU) Felix said that GSI is coordinating Brazil's assistance and is the point of contact for the GOB with the GOH on their needs. Brazil's Ministry of Defense is in charge of logistics, Health Ministry is in charge of medical supplies, National Integration Ministry (which oversees Brazil's civil defense operation) is in charge of coordinating provisions of food, water, and shelter; GSI is coordinating provisions that don't fit into one of those categories. Felix said that Brazil is currently doing its own distribution in-country through Brazilian NGOs and GOB officials on the ground, but will turn over distribution to the UN, GOH, or USG "once the organization is sufficient." Felix indicated that he would serve as coordinator as long as basic humanitarian needs are still a pressing issue for Haiti. He said he would be pleased to follow up a January 15 discussion between Minister of Defense Jobim and CJCS Admiral Mullen by talking with USAID Administrator Shah about setting up a mechanism to smooth coordination (Note: The call is scheduled for January 22 at 1530 EST. End note.) Felix plans to visit Haiti on Sunday, January 24, a day after FM Amorim visits. Amorim will travel on to Montreal for the conference of foreign ministers on January 25. Felix is not planning to attend; however, we have been informed that Defense Minister Jobim is considering attending the Montreal conference along with Amorim.

5. (U) Note: GSI is responsible a wide range of security matters,

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including crisis prevention and management. It has served as the primary coordinator of the federal government's actions during crises in the past. Because GSI is also a part of the Presidency, it continues to be President Lula's most immediate and close-to-home resource for handling a crisis of a security nature deemed critical for Brazil. Immediately following the earthquake in Haiti, Lula created a "crisis cabinet" headed by Felix to coordinate Brazilian assistance to Haiti. End note.

6. (SBU) Marco Farani, director of Brazil's cooperation agency, ABC, told Mission AID Director January 19 that ABC is not involved in the immediate emergency response. ABC's projects in Haiti had been destroyed, and ABC will want to collaborate with USAID on post-crisis development projects. At present he and several other MRE officials are attending daily meetings organized by GSI. The MRE officials involved include Under Secretary for Latin America Amb. Antonio Simoes (political issues), Amb. Marcos Pinta Gama (logistics and Haiti Crisis Room), and Milton Rondo (humanitarian aid coordinator). Pinta Gama told Poloff January 21 that his job is to coordinate within MRE and with the Brazilian military on all humanitarian assistance, especially arranging logistics. He is also in charge of the repatriation of Brazilian citizens from Haiti and assistance to those remaining there. He said his work is winding down, with the assistance flights operating "pretty smoothly now."

7. (SBU) During a meeting with U/S Machado on January 20, Charge asked her view of coordination between our governments on Haiti. She said she knew of no problems. However, she noted that international media coverage has been unhelpful because it is suggesting there is a lack of law and order and that "no one is in charge" when in fact there is no general problem with order and MINUSTAH is doing its job. The Charge noted that we have heard from Washington there might be concerns in Brazil's UN Mission; Machado said that Brazilian Perm Rep Viotti had in fact "stressed a need for further cooperation" in conversations with her.

8. (SBU) Comment: Efforts by senior USG officials to engage the GOB, as well as increased efforts to inform Brazilian media in the United States, Haiti, and Brazil, have succeeded in reducing GOB perceptions of a lack of coordination. Efforts by SouthCom to accommodate Brazlian requests and reach out to media have been particularly effective and helpful in this regard. As head of MINUSTAH and a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, the Brazilian MRE in particular remains sensitive to any perception that Brazil's and MINUSTAH's equities are not being considered.


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