|06BUENOSAIRES168||2006-01-23 19:13:00||UNCLASSIFIED||Embassy Buenos Aires|
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UNCLAS BUENOS AIRES 000168
1. SUMMARY STATEMENT
Weekend stories cover Bolivian President-elect Evo
Morales' inauguration ceremony and the progress of
indigenous movements in Latin America; the US attitude
toward Morales; the US-Argentine relationship; the
possible nomination of US Assistant Secretary Earl
Anthony Wayne as the future US ambassador to Benos
Aires; the US-Uruguayan free trade deal; the
increasing number of Argentine military trained in the
US; Iraq's Shiites being confirmed by election
results; Iran denouncing as "unacceptable" recent
comments by French President Chirac that France could
respond with nuclear weapons against any state-
sponsored terrorist attack; and the World Bank's
announcement that it will "carefully consider"
objections to a report on the construction of two pulp
mills in Uruguay.
2. OPINION PIECES AND KEY STORIES
- "The silent progress of the indigenous movement in
Fernando Halperin, international columnist of daily-of-
record "La Nacion," comments (01/21) "Bolivia is just
a few hours away from having an indigenous president.
For some, what is worrying is not this fact but his
affinity with the Cuban and Venezuelan regimes...
"However, just a few notice that the landslide victory
of the socialist candidate is the most recent
expression of an increasingly visible phenomenon -the
progress made by the indigenous movement in Latin
"... Miguel Bartolome, an Argentine researcher at the
National Institute of Anthropology and History of
Oaxaca, Mexico, told 'La Nacion' 'The trend in favor
of indigenous participation is a Latin American
phenomenon. But, the possibility of accessing the
presidency through elections is a Bolivian
"According to Bartolome, 'The phenomenon is not new,
but it has always been denied. It was not a silent
process, but silence was imposed on it'... 'We have
always considered normal that a minority of 'criollos'
should rule an indigenous majority.'"
- "Reservation and pragmatism, the US prescription
Hugo Alconada Mon, Washington-based correspondent for
daily-of-record "La Nacion," writes (01/22) "These
days, the USG is assessing its new diplomatic strategy
(a more reserved and pragmatic one) toward brand-new
Bolivian President Evo Morales and other Latin
"A/S Tom Shannon will witness today Morales'
inauguration, which is a noteworthy gesture of
rapprochement toward a leader who harshly criticized
President George W. Bush during his election campaign.
Shannon will also hold private meetings with some of
the 11 heads of State and representatives of
delegations that will also participate in the
"According to Michael Shifter, VP of the Inter
American Dialogue, 'Reality should impose itself. The
US should at least attempt to establish a dialogue
with Bolivia. It is the minimum the US should do. It
is both a pragmatic and realistic view.
"... The White House's main challenge regarding
Bolivia is whether it is in a position to counteract
the financial and political help already promised by
- "A gesture of support from Kirchner"
Martin Rodriguez Yebra, on special assignment in La
Paz for daily-of-record "La Nacion," writes (01/22)
"What matters is the political gesture. President
Nestor Kirchner will land in El Alto Airport this
morning and will leave as soon as Evo Morales is sworn
in as president of Bolivia...
"Kirchner wanted to give a clear sign of support for
the Bolivian leader by simply coming and bringing his
ministers with him... It is a similar delegation to
the one he called for his recent State visit to
- "The new US diplomatic outlook"
Ana Baron, Washington-based correspondent, comments
(01/23) "During his inauguration, Evo Morales made
some statements which if made during the Cold War
could have induced Washington to overthrow him...
"In the name of democracy and anti-Communism, the US
not only removed governments but supported the worst
dictatorships in our countries. But, what can it do
now in view of democratically elected leaders who
criticize its policies?
"By stating that the diplomacy implemented during the
Cold War should come to an end, US Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice recommended what she termed
'transformational diplomacy,' which will bring
hundreds of diplomats to the Middle East, Africa and
Latin America to open more channels of dialogue and
interaction with local communities.
"... A/S Shannon is determined to defend US interests
through a conciliatory strategy. Before leaving for
Bolivia, Shannon said the US is ready to work with
Morales, and he praised populist governments because
they integrate new sectors of society into politics.
The thorniest issues in the US-Bolivian relationship
are the future of the gas supply and coca
- "The end of apartheid"
Claudio Uriarte, international analyst of left-of-
center "Pagina 12," writes (01/22) "... Morales'
inauguration was like the end of apartheid.
"... Morales counts on the support of Venezuelan Hugo
Chavez on the sensitive hydrocarbon sector.. and
during his recent European trip, Morales even showed
some signs of a 'Lula-like' discourse by committing to
honoring private property and welcoming foreign
investment. His interviews with Repsol YPF businessmen
were crucial in this regard. And perhaps the
resumption of coca-based economy could be, in spite of
US sanctions, the incentive Evo needs to finance part
of his project."
- "Bolivia and the arrival of a new realistic leader"
Marcelo Cantelmi, international editor of leading
"Clarin," comments (01/21) "Morales has been changing
his tough election campaign... During his
international tour, he sought to increase
international bankers and investors' confidence...
"As many of his counterparts that are winning power in
the region, Morales knows that the only way to survive
is by alleviating inequity, which is the main factor
of political and economic instability in Bolivia. If
he does not manage to do it, there will be room for no
one, not even for multinational corporations. This is
the message of his victory... Evo Morales is not a
Marxist, but a realistic leader.
"It is not by chance that Washington has now revalued
the mediating power of countries or populist
governments, which it has pejoratively referred to so
far. For Morales it will not be an easy road. He is a
non-experienced leader who reached the government
strongly supported by excluded sectors, which does not
hide its 'pincer' form."
- "Bordon, increasingly further from the US"
Hugo Alconada Mon, Washington-based correspondent for
daily-of-record "La Nacion," writes (01/21) "According
to Argentine government officials and diplomats,
President Kirchner could replace Argentine Ambassador
to the White House Jose Octavio Bordon in the next
weeks as part of an official strategy to renew the US-
Argentine bilateral relationship.
"... It happened here that Federal Planning Minister
Julio De Vido excluded Bordon in negotiations to bring
15 first-level businessmen to Argentina.
"According to rumors in Washington, De Vido, one of
President Kirchner's most trusted men, agreed with A/S
Tom Shannon during a meeting in Buenos Aires that
Hector Timerman, consul to New York, will be the
Argentine coordinator of said business tour to Buenos
Aires along with US Ambassador to Buenos Aires Lino
- "Wayne moved on one more step on his road to Buenos
Hugo Alconada Mon, Washington-based correspondent for
daily-of-record "La Nacion," writes (01/21) "The
nomination of current US Assistant Secretary for
Economic and Business Affairs Earl Anthony Wayne as
the new Ambassador to Buenos Aires has received
"According to official and foreign sources of the
Republican administration, US Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice endorsed his nomination and sent it
to President George W. Bush for his final approval...
According to a US diplomatic source, 'Rice's signature
is powerful to end the selection process and the
discussion promoted by an interested source.' 'The
president could still reject his name, but he is
highly unlikely to do so.'
"... According to US sources, 'Wayne offered the DCM
position to an old friend of Argentina, Michael
Matera, current chief-of-Staff of the State
Department's number two, Robert Zoellick, and Matera
is reported to have accepted it.
"... According to an unidentified friend of Wayne,
'the fact that Wayne is recruiting people he trusts
shows that his nomination is almost a fact and that
the US State Department (career line) defeated the
most conservative ones.'"
- "Kirchner shows a more conciliatory attitude toward
Jose Ignacio Llados, political columnist of daily-of-
record "La Nacion," writes (01/23) "... Ever since the
visit of A/S Thomas Shannon, (President) Kirchner has
conveyed signs to strengthen Mercosur, hinted it is
quite 'logical' to pay a higher price for the Bolivian
gas supply, said that Lula was one of the 'big
presidents in the history of Brazil,' confirmed his
commercial rapprochement with Venezuela, said he will
reinforce his political ties with Chile, and worked
hard to retune the country with the US.
"After months of tension, eleven days of an intense
international agenda let him rectify his road and show
a different image."
- "Kirchner, between the charrua fury and the samba's
Fernando Laborda, political columnist of daily-of-
record "La Nacion," writes (01/22) "During the last
few days, President Nestor Kirchner warned that the
dispute with Uruguay due to the pulp mills was more
serious than what he thought at the beginning. This is
why he tried to downplay the discussion even with the
governor of Entre Rios, Jorge Busti. He termed the
problem 'an environmental issue' and publicly
supported an eventual Uruguayan decision to reach a
free trade deal with the US (no matter if this
contradicts Mercosur's protocol).
"... The summit held among Kirchner, Lula and Chavez
made progress on the construction of a monumental
pipeline that will join part of South America but it
also brought doubts over who will finance it.
"Less enthusiasm was raised by Chavez' idea of crating
a Bank of the South, which, should be formed through
the contribution of half of the international reserves
of Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela. A high-ranking
source of the Argentine government tactfully said
'Today, we are not evaluating this possibility.'
Chavez will have to wait."
- "Brazil downplays a US-Uruguayan free trade deal"
Eleonora Gosman, on special assignment in Brasilia for
leading "Clarin," writes (01/21) "One day after the
Brasilia summit among Kirchner, Lula and Chavez, there
appeared some disagreement between Argentina and
Brazil on what strategy to follow with Uruguay in the
event Tabare Vazquez decides to sign a free trade deal
with the US.
"Kirchner revealed some degree of political
flexibility that does not seem to be 100% shared with
the Brazilian government... According to Marco Aurelio
Garcia, Lula's presidential advisor on foreign
affairs, if Uruguay seeks to intensify its trade with
Washington, 'we do agree.' But, 'an eventual free
trade deal is something quite different. There are
treaties and treaties, and we are worried about it.'"
- "According to a Washington expert, 'The US sees
social problems as military ones'
Yolanda Yebra, political columnist of centrist
newspaper "Perfil," writes (01/22) "Adam Isacson,
expert in defense, security and drug trafficking in
Latin America and head of the Center for International
Policy Programs, explains the purpose of the US
military aid for Argentina and he warns that the US
sees social problems from a military point of view.
"... The most important thing for Bush is that those
countries receiving aid will respond to his concept of
democracy and free market agenda. Also, security is
crucial for our administration and the frequent
regional instability, added to the fact that we are a
bit militarist, makes us see the social problems of
the hemisphere from a military perspective."
- "Search for alternatives in South America"
An editorial in leading "Clarin" reads (01/22) "The
region presents a scenario of big movements and
realignments, which is a consequence of new political
solutions and the search for ways out of old economic
problems with the energy issue as a backdrop.
"... While this realignment was taking place, the
Uruguayan Government announced its purpose of reaching
a free trade deal with the US, which could infringe on
the Mercosur agreement.
"Uruguay believes it has received an unfair treatment
from its largest partners. It is still unknown whether
this announcement is a form of protest to obtain
concessions or whether there is a steady purpose to
seek a deal with the US and what benefits are expected
"Uruguay's reaction has made it obvious that big
partners have not taken into account the situation of
those with less economic capability, as did happen in
the European integration process. Big partners should
review their stance if they decide to maintain
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