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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
05ASUNCION1390
2005-11-08 19:46:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Asuncion
Cable title:  

PARAGUAY: CABRAL, CORRUPTION, AND U.S. POLICY

Tags:   PREL  PGOV  KCRM  SNAR  PINR  PA 
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This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 ASUNCION 001390 

SIPDIS

STATE PASS TO USAID FOR LAC/AA
NSC FOR SUE CRONIN
TREASURY FOR OTA WARFIELD, VAN KOCH, MILLAR
SOUTHCOM FOR POLAD DAN JOHNSON

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/19/2015
TAGS: PREL PGOV KCRM SNAR PINR PA
SUBJECT: PARAGUAY: CABRAL, CORRUPTION, AND U.S. POLICY

Classified By: Charge Kevin M. Johnson for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

-------
Summary
-------

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 ASUNCION 001390

SIPDIS

STATE PASS TO USAID FOR LAC/AA
NSC FOR SUE CRONIN
TREASURY FOR OTA WARFIELD, VAN KOCH, MILLAR
SOUTHCOM FOR POLAD DAN JOHNSON

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/19/2015
TAGS: PREL PGOV KCRM SNAR PINR PA
SUBJECT: PARAGUAY: CABRAL, CORRUPTION, AND U.S. POLICY

Classified By: Charge Kevin M. Johnson for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

--------------
Summary
--------------


1. (C) On 10/26, post learned of a new attempt to promote
corrupt police official Aristides Cabral with a Senate vote
on 10/27, the day of Ambassador Keane's departure from
Paraguay. The Embassy moved quickly with the Vice-President
and other senior GOP officials as well as key Senators to
stop the promotion. After much back and forth, the Senate
voted not to promote Cabral, effectively ending his police
career. However, President Duarte allowing this vote to
occur after promising us Cabral's career was over, and the
support of almost all Colorado Party Senators, call into
question the GOP's willingness and/or ability to turn the
page on corruption. Charge stressed our concern over this
issue to Acting President Castiglioni on 11/3, noting that
relations would have been seriously damaged had Cabral been
promoted. Charge concluded that this incident signaled that
Colorado Senators (and possibly, the President) were
misreading the USG. Castiglioni offered that Duarte had made
a "mistake" and promised to clarify our position. Mounting
political pressures could threaten much of what has been
achieved in Paraguay. Post suggests the USG be prepared to
counter these pressures in coming months. End Summary.

--------------
Unpleasant Surprise on Cabral
--------------


2. (C) On 10/26, post learned that Senator Carlos Filizzola
of the socialist Country in Solidarity Party (PSS) had
exercised his prerogative as Senate President to place the
promotion of police official Aristides Cabral on the Senate's
agenda on 10/27 (without going through the normal procedure
of seeking agreement of party leaders). (Note. Post has
evidence that Cabral is corrupt and has provided notorious
drug traffickers with protection. Last year, the President

allowed his name to go forward to the Senate on a list of
police officials recommended for promotion, despite having
been breifed on Cabral by the Ambassador. The Embassy
lobbied Senators to vote against Cabral. Cabral's Colorado
Party supporters decided to suspend consideration of Cabral's
promotion after they realized they didn't have the votes to
win. After ensuing demarches, both here and in Washington,
President Duarte promised the Ambassador personally that he
would ensure Cabral would not be promoted nor given a job of
any substance. End Note.)

--------------
All Out Lobbying Effort ...
--------------


3. (C) Upon learning that Cabral's promotion had been
placed on the Senate agenda, the Embassy took up a full court
press to prevent this from happening. Ambassador Keane
called Vice-President Castiglioni and put in a call to
President Duarte (Duarte never returned the call) urging that
the President exercise his prerogative to withdraw the
recommendation for Cabral's promotion and thus prevent a vote
in the Senate. The DCM called acting FM Gimenez, Finance
Minister Bergen, Duarte confidant Da Rosa (Colorado Party
bench leader in the House of Deputies), and senior
Presidential advisor Walde. Polcouns called senior Senate
leaders from the governing Colorado Party and the opposition
parties. Visiting FBI Director Mueller took up the issue in
his meetings with VP Castiglioni, Interior Minister Benitez,
and Paraguayan National Police (PNP) Chief Isasa.
Castiglioni assured us he opposed Cabral's promotion. He
maintained that "if they could not block Cabral's promotion,
the President would deny him an assignment and push him to
retire." He asked that we keep this "fall-back" position
confidential.

SIPDIS

--------------
... Barely Turns the Tide
--------------


4. (U) After much back and forth, particularly within the
ranks of opposition parties debating whether to walk out to
deny the vote a quorum, the motion to promote Cabral was
voted down 20-16. Amongst those who voted to promote Cabral
were 13 Senators from the governing Colorado Party, the two
PPS Senators including Senate President Filizzola, and
Liberal Party dissident Sen. Laino, notorious for his
anti-American bent. The vote to deny the promotion enjoyed
the support of 18 Senators from the opposition parties plus
two Colorado Senators who broke ranks after we and VP
Castiglioni intervened. Another Colorado Senator, Osvaldo
Dominguez Smith (whose father Osvaldo Dominguez Dibb is
challenging Duarte for Party President), decided to absent
himself from Congress to avoid keeping his commitment to the
Colorado Party Senate leadership to vote in Cabral's favor.

--------------
Clarifying Red Lines for VP
--------------


5. (C) On 11/2 CDA met privately with VP (Acting President)
to stress the seriousness of this issue, noting that
relations would have been seriously damaged had Cabral been
promoted. The fact that the President allowed the vote to
happen after all that had passed before, including Duarte's
personal assurances, was troubling. Overwhelming Colorado
support for Cabral in the Senate meant that Colorado leaders
(and possibly the President) either misunderstood or
dismissed the USG position. The VP had to understand that,
while we do not expect corruption to disappear overnight,
there are limits to what the USG can accept and still be an
active supporter of the GOP; direct GOP support to narcotics
traffickers crosses a red line, and promoting Cabral was in
that category, as we had made absolutely clear. There were
Colorado and other politicians linked to traffickers, CDA
continued, and they would continue to seek GOP support and
protection; the President's friends should urge him to resist
such pressure. U.S. policy in the future would continue to
depend on GOP actions.


6. (C) Castiglioni reiterated his long-time opposition to
Cabral's promotion, saying he was totally surprised when this
happened, and very relieved when "his and our intervention"
worked. Duarte clearly made "at least two mistakes," he
said, "one in not withdrawing the promotion proposal months
ago, and another in not resisting Senate pressures now." The
VP said Duarte often makes mistakes and acts rashly (citing
NDF's earlier incitement of land invasions and the Casado
expropriation) and assumed that had happened here. Perhaps
someone had pleaded for the chance to help an old friend and
asked that NDF not allow the "yanquis" to intervene in such
decisions, he speculated. He pleaded ignorance as to why
Cabral enjoyed such support in the Senate, claiming that
Colorado Senators Rachid and Fanego were his champions, but
he didn't know why (sic). He speculated that other Senators
had just gone along. (Note: The VP pointedly did not mention
Colorado Senate leader Galaverna, a major Duarte ally and
Cabral supporter. End Note.) The VP claimed Duarte was
"absolutely moral, and any mistake was not a lack of
political will." He said he understood and would pass on our
message and hoped cooperation would continue to grow, asking
that we remain in close contact.

--------------
Avoiding the Worst Case
--------------


7. (C) The Senate vote to deny Cabral's promotion means
Cabral's career as a police official effectively ends in
December of this year. This is excellent news. The fact
that this issue ever even came up for a vote -- and that it
did so on the day Ambassador Keane was departing -- is
disturbing. President Duarte had assured Ambassador Keane
that Cabral would never be promoted when rumors were
circulating several months ago that he was under
consideration for assignment as police chief in Ciudad del
Este. Paraguay's Ambassador to the U.S. gave the Department
similar assurances, as did the Deputy Foreign Minister. The
President could have withdrawn Cabral's name from Senate
consideration at any time, including up through the day it
came up for a vote in the Senate. He declined to do so.

--------------
Pressure on Duarte?
--------------

8. (C) It is inconceivable the Colorado Party leadership in
the Senate would have moved on a subject as controversial as
Cabral's promotion without the President's knowledge.
According to one Embassy contact, Castiglioni tried to
convince Duarte to withdraw Cabral's name, but Duarte was
insistent the matter come to a vote. According to Colorado
Sen. Dominguez, powerful Colorado Senators were insistent
Duarte allow this vote go forward or face "serious
consequences." When asked to explain the reason for the
overriding Colorado Senate support for Cabral, Dominguez
responded that Cabral knows lots of secrets and has done lots
of favors creating a constituency amongst powerful
politicians who either feel they owe him something or are
afraid he has something on them.

--------------
A Step Back When Caught
--------------


9. (C) It is not clear whether the Colorado Senators
connived to promote Cabral with Duarte's blessing or gave him
no choice but to lend it tacit support. After we discovered
the surprise vote, Castiglioni told us that the President
would make Cabral retire even if the Senate promoted him.
We'll never know if such a plan was real or simply a response
to being "caught" before the promotion plan succeeded.
Either way, this is a sobering reminder of the threats to
reform.

--------------
Policy Implications: Stick As Well As Carrot
--------------


10. (C) Long arguing that USG support for Duarte was a
wager rather than a sure thing, we are not shocked at
continued corruption. This incident reinforces, however, the
need for nuanced U.S. policy that balances support for
reforms with clear signals as to what we cannot accept. The
Cabral case, while troubling in its own right, is more
important as an example of a very corrupt political culture
and the need for direct U.S. pressure to counter other
interests. Ironcially, Duarte and his supporters are
increasingly vocal in asking why the USG doesn't provide more
support in light of GOP efforts against corruption and
narcotics trafficking. While reminding GOP of extensive
support in many areas, we need to call attention to major
problems as well as the importance we attach to concrete
steps such as adoption of anti-money laundering legislation.


11. (C) U.S. approval is invaluable politically in Paraguay
and we should continue to ensure Duarte and his party don't
take it for granted. Department may wish to remind
Ambassador Spalding of his earier assurances on Cabral, and
point out USG concern over this case and what it says about
GOP and Colorado willingness to fight corruption. Post is
not/not suggesting we reduce support at this time. With
Colorado internal elections comming and other elections to
follow, however, the pressures against reform are mounting;
the USG is one useful source of counter pressure.
JOHNSON