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2005-09-14 12:19:00
Embassy Asuncion
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						UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ASUNCION 001162 



E.O. 12958: N/A

1. This is an action request. See Para 6.

2. The media and government officials in Argentina, Bolivia,
Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay continue to make statements
about U.S.-Paraguayan military cooperation that have
absolutely no basis in fact. These media reports and
officials claim, inter alia, that 400 U.S. soldiers will be
stationed in Mariscal Estigarribia, Paraguay (northern Chaco
region) for 18 months. They also allege that the U.S.
intends to establish a military base in this region and that
Paraguay has granted U.S. troops full diplomatic immunity in
violation of its obligations under the Rome Treaty.

3. In fact, in May 2005, the Paraguayan Senate, acting in
response to a request submitted by the MFA, approved the
entry of U.S. soldiers to participate in 13 military training
exercises to be conducted in various locations throughout the
country, including several Medical Readiness Exercises
(MEDRETES), over an 18 month period from July 2005 through
December 2006. Separately, both houses of Congress extended
to entering U.S. military soldiers and officials,
Administration and Technical status (immunity from charges
lodged in connection to participation in exercises). In most
instances, no more than 10-20 U.S. soldiers participate in
each exercise which generally lasts no more than 2-3 weeks,
never exceeding 45 days.

4. Grouping exercises over 18 months for both permission to
enter and granting of A&T status was done to facilitate
congressional review and promote transparency. Previous
time-consuming & cumbersome practice (1 request for entry and
1 status agreement for each exercise) resulted in tardy
arrival of Executive Branch requests to the congress and
complaints from members of congress about lack of time for
consultation and time to review the requests. Laying out 13
exercises over 18 months vastly improved the process, but
some continue to mischaracterize it as approval for troops to
remain for 18 months; this is wrong, as we and the GOP have
repeatedly explained.

5. Asuncion provides the following press guidance for
answering queries from local media outlets. Department may
wish to also use this guidance to address Brazil and
Argentina in Washington or at our Embassies, since
representatives of those governments continue to spread

Begin Points:

-- The U.S. has absolutely no intention of establishing a
military base anywhere in Paraguay;

-- The U.S. has no intention of stationing soldiers for a
lengthy period in Paraguay;

-- The U.S. has no designs of any kind on Ciudad del Este,
except that we are supporting programs to create jobs in the

formal sector for Paraguayans there;

-- The U.S. has no interest in the Guarani Aquifer, except
that we hope it will be a resource which assists the
prosperity and well being of the inhabitants in its
geographic proximity.

-- The U.S. and Paraguay have been conducting similar
exercises for many years; there is nothing new in these
current exercises;

-- Small numbers of U.S. personnel, generally 10-20 persons,
will train with their Paraguayan military colleagues during
periods of two-six weeks. No U.S. soldiers will be deployed
for an extended period of time, and there will never be more
than a few dozen U.S. service members in Paraguay for longer
than 45 days;

-- The first exercises will provide humanitarian medical
assistance to thousands of needy campesinos and others in the
Departments of Canindeyu, Caazapa, and Neembucu;

-- Several other short term exercises for training of various
types will take place at different times in various locations
between now and December 2006. Again, none of the training
will last more than 45 days;

-- Similar exercises for training occur routinely between
U.S. armed services and the militaries of many other
countries in Latin America, as they have for decades. Their
purpose in all countries is to enhance the capabilities of
the Latin American and U.S. militaries, and in many cases, to
provide humanitarian assistance to local populations;

-- These training exercises are not linked to any other
assistance being provided by the U.S. government.

-- (if raised) Agreements on immunities have been typical
for decades with countries around the hemisphere and the
globe. They are entirely consistent with the Treaty of Rome
obligations adopted by many countries.

-- (as appropriate) Currently, there are approximately 40
U.S. military doctors, nurses, and veterinarians from the
U.S. National Guard in the Department of Neembucu (located
along the western Paraguay-Argentina border) providing
medical care and veterinarian services to thousands of people
from the region. The team will be in Paraguay for 15 days
and then return to the U.S. These U.S. military
representatives are providing this service in Paraguay
instead of Louisiana or Mississippi, the site of the recent
tragic hurricane of historic proportions in the U.S., in
order to fulfill their commitment to Paraguay.

6. Comment: There is an active misinformation campaign on
this issue as well as some outlets simply being misinformed.
Post welcomes Department suggestions on addressing
governments whose representatives are both interfering in
bilateral affairs and spreading false information.