Viewing cable 05BRASILIA2675, DEPUTY SECRETARY'S MEETING WITH PRESIDENTIAL INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS ADVISOR MARCOS AURELIO GARCIA, 6 OCTOBER 2005
|05BRASILIA2675||2005-10-07 13:01||2011-01-14 00:12||CONFIDENTIAL||Embassy Brasilia|
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 04 BRASILIA 002675 SIPDIS E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/06/2015 TAGS: PREL PGOV BR OVIP ZOELLICK ROBERT US SUBJECT: DEPUTY SECRETARY'S MEETING WITH PRESIDENTIAL INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS ADVISOR MARCOS AURELIO GARCIA, 6 OCTOBER 2005 Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN DANILOVICH. REASONS: 1.4(B)(D). Â¶1. (C) Summary. Deputy Secretary of State Zoellick, accompanied by Ambassador Danilovich and delegation, met on 6 October with Marco Aurelio Garcia, International Affairs Advisor to President Lula da Silva. Garcia has often served as Lula's special envoy for crisis situations in the region, and much of the discussion focused on Bolivia, where the GOB has tried to use both economic and political influence to enhance stability and press for constitutional solutions. The GOB sees Bolivia (as well as Ecuador and Peru) as "fragilized" and views the coming Bolivian elections, the debate on regionalization and a future constitutional assembly as the key passages that will determine Bolivia's future. D/S Zoellick urged that the OAS and IDB be involved in supporting Bolivia in weathering those moments and in institution building generally. On Venezuela, Garcia indicated that the GOB has used its influence with Chavez to successfully insert the "Group of Friends" into a useful role in last year's referendum, to try to "soften" his anti-American stances, and to mediate between Colombia and Venezuela during a recent crisis. But Garcia would not be drawn into a substantive discussion of Chavez's repressive internal political actions. D/S Zoellick asked that the USG and GOB look for ways to place the theme of democratic solidarity in the region at the center stage of the upcoming Summit of the Americas (with emphasis on the roles the OAS and IDB can play). On bilateral relations, D/S Zoellick suggested that the GOB and USG look for areas where cooperation could be intensified, as it seems ironic that U.S. relations with China and India now seem more dynamic than those with Brazil, the hemisphere's other giant democracy. Garcia expressed receptivity and said that the GOB's guiding principle in its foreign policy is "expanding the space for democracy" in the region and world. End summary. Â¶2. (U) In a 6 October morning meeting lasting more than an hour at the Presidency's Planalto Palace, Deputy Secretary Zoellick and Lula's senior international advisor, Marco Aurelio Garcia, reviewed a range of regional issues. Highlights follow below. A delegation list is at paragraph 15. BOLIVIA ------- Â¶3. (C) Garcia said the GOB fears the entire Andean region is "fragilized," with Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru all facing grave challenges (Garcia placed Colombia in a separate category, owing to its internal armed conflict). Especially in Ecuador and Bolivia, weak institutions undermine political comity and stability. In Bolivia, Garcia said enormous social and income inequalities exacerbate a belief in much of the population that the nation has been systematically "looted" of its natural riches (silver, energy resources), and wrongfully denied access to the sea. "A certain type of nationalism" stems from these views, affecting the behavior of all political forces in the country, to the detriment of rational discourse on politics, economics and foreign investment, Garcia said. Â¶4. (C) Brazil's approach to trying to assist Bolivia, Garcia explained, includes deepening its economic presence in the country, seeking to invest heavily in gas, chemical and metallurgical projects that can create employment and attract other foreign investment. But these efforts are "paralyzed" in Bolivia's insecure environment, a point that Garcia said he and other GOB envoys regularly stress with Bolivian interlocutors ranging from Evo Morales to Santa Cruz businessmen. With all of these interlocutors the GOB insists that Bolivians must seek constitutional resolutions to their country's political crises, which are both electoral and institutional, Garcia said. (He added that President Lula intends to meet the major candidates and personally reinforce this message.) But the GOB doubts that any candidate in the coming presidential candidate will garner close to fifty percent of the vote. Hence the congress would again have to select a president, inevitably undermining his legitimacy, especially if the congress' choice is not the largest vote getter. For that reason, Garcia expressed some sympathy for the idea of a two-stage referendum. Â¶5. (C) Despite the challenges, Garcia expressed the GOB's belief that the situation in Bolivia is "unstable but controllable." Noting his emergency visits to Bolivia as Lula's envoy during crisis points in 2003 and again this year, Garcia opined that Bolivians "may approach the edge of the abyss" but always seem to find a way back. Whoever emerges as president will quickly perceive the need to build a national consensus for governance, and this will moderate his views, including on the petrochemical questions. Garcia said the GOB reinforces this reality in its conversations with Evo Morales in particular, and the GOB "has information" that Morales is actually becoming more pragmatic in his outlook as he contemplates the possibility of winning (which Garcia quickly said the GOB still sees as uncertain). Garcia downplayed the importance of foreign actors in Bolivia, saying that Hugo Chavez and foreign NGOs may try to exert influence, but the dominant factors in Bolivia are internal ones. Garcia even claimed that Chavez, at Brazil's behest, had played a moderating role in convincing Morales and his supporters to soften their positions on legislation on petrochemical industries. Â¶6. (C) Deputy Secretary Zoellick agreed with the importance of addressing the fragility of institutions in Bolivia. He pointed out the danger of a refusal by parts of the population to accept election results, and in that regard, emphasized the importance of international election observers and an international presence in the election's aftermath. He asked what the U.S., Brazil, the OAS, and the IDB could do to build institutions in Bolivia. Â¶7. (C) Garcia saw three key passages ahead where international efforts to support Bolivia could be focused. First, the election will set the political context and anticipate the conflicts for the foreseeable future. Second, the current debate about regionalization (including focus on potential models such as Spain) will influence events. And third, the constitutional assembly will be a bellwether of Bolivia's direction, one that is linked closely to the first two. If the election and regionalization debate can produce results that contribute to legitimacy, stability and dialogue, then a salutary environment will be set for a constitutional assembly. But if the elections and regionalization debate produce greater polarization, the constitutional assembly will be "surreal," with extremist forces hijacking debate with divisive, exotic and unworkable proposals, Garcia said. Â¶8. (C) D/S Zoellick replied that the USG believes the OAS could play helpful roles. Indeed, the USG believes now is the time for thinking creatively of how the OAS and IDB can be used more effectively in institution-building throughout the region, since democracy is not only about elections, but about institutions that work. Observing that he had just come from Managua, D/S Zoellick pointed to Nicaragua as a vivid example of the need for political parties that can represent broad constituencies (Nicaragua has no center-left party that can counter balance the Sandinistas, he noted), for objective courts, and for tackling corruption. Â¶9. (C) Garcia said he shared these views on the OAS, though he said the organization may at times have to operate in a "complex" manner. In example, he noted that the OAS's ability to engage in Bolivia during the crisis there earlier this year had been hampered by the fact that the new Secretary General is Chilean -- a sore point for Bolivians. Instead, Argentina and Brazil had sent in envoys (Garcia was dispatched by Lula). (Note: Garcia failed to mention that the envoys never reached Sucre, where the Bolivian congress was meeting, due to riots in that city. End Note.) In future in Bolivia, the OAS may be able to become involved. He also noted Brazil's efforts to assist Ecuador in developing a non-politicized judicial system, and said this is an area in which the OAS might be especially helpful throughout the region. NICARAGUA --------- Â¶10. (C) Picking up on D/S Zoellick's comments on Nicaragua, Garcia said he would visit that country in the near future, and intended to meet with representatives from across the political spectrum. He said he would insist in all of his conversations on respect for elections and institutions. D/S Zoellick in reply urged Garcia to speak to the PLC. SUMMIT OF THE AMERICAS ---------------------- Â¶11. (C) D/S Zoellick expressed his concern that the declaration for the upcoming Summit of the Americas (SOA) could become a formulaic document. He emphasized that the SOA should be an important forum for showcasing the potential of the OAS and IDB to provide political and economic support for fragile nations in the hemisphere, and for strong democracies to express their solidarity. It is important now to create a sense of hope, he added. Garcia agreed, and observed that some problems in the SOA may result in part from "summit fatigue" and a flawed approach that has heads of state signing off on poor declarations at the end of torturous negotiations. VENEZUELA --------- Â¶12. (C) Turning to Venezuela, Garcia explained that the GOB has sought to maintain good relations with Venezuela and play a positive role there. Brazilian vital interests dictate that there must be no "upheaval" in its populous neighbor, because a meltdown in Venezuela would set a dangerous precedent for regional stability and endanger Brazil's economic investments there. The GOB has maintained a dialogue with the opposition in Venezuela, which has come to see Brazil as a stabilizing force. The GOB has used its influence with Chavez to bring the "Group of Friends" into the referedum process (though Chavez initially balked at the group's composition), to mediate between Chavez and Colombian President Uribe in the recent crisis over FARC presence in Venezuela, and to caution Chavez to take a "softer" rhetorical line with regard to the U.S. Brazil continues to actively pursue joint ventures with Venezuela in petrol refineries, construction of oil platforms and tanker vessels, and provision of concessions for Brazilian firms operating in Venezuela. D/S Zoellick asked whether the GOB is concerned about repressive internal actions by Chavez against opposition elements, NGOs and the press. Garcia demurred on a clear response, saying only that the GOB is taking a "wait and see" approach to the internal political scene and that the Venezuelan press appears to continue to be outspoken in its attacks on Chavez. BILATERAL RELATIONS ------------------- Â¶13. (C) In considering U.S.-Brazil relations, D/S Zoellick said he wanted to "plant some seeds" with the GOB. Noting that he had recently returned from a bilateral strategic dialogue in China and that the U.S. relationship with India is also evolving, D/S Zoellick said he had found himself thinking of Brazil and finding it ironic that there is not a similar movement toward broader horizons in the U.S. relationship with Brazil, the other giant democracy in the western hemisphere. D/S Zoellick suggested that the USG and GOB should consider new ways for working together in initiatives on democracy building, development and assistance projects and cooperation in science and technology, health and the environment. He also suggested more frequent contact at the ministerial level in finance and other areas beyond the traditional realm of foreign ministries. Â¶14. (C) Ambassador Abednur endorsed this approach and noted his own contacts with a range of ministries in Brasilia to energize cooperation in several areas. Garcia also agreed, saying the GOB would welcome concrete initiatives to deepen relations between the U.S. and Brazil. He criticized Brazilian pundits who have frequently charged that the Lula administration's foreign policy ignores or antagonizes the U.S. for ideological reasons. Garcia opined that, while Brazil's is a government of the left, it does not allow ideology to influence its "realistic" approach to the world. The GOB's guiding interest is "expanding the space for democracy" throughout the world, starting in this hemisphere. Garcia further observed that personal ties are important to Lula, and that the friendship he enjoys with Presidents Bush positively colors the bilateral relationship, as does the good relations between FM Amorim and D/S Zoellick, and Finance Minister Palocci and Treasury Secretary Snow. Such relationships "are not accidental" and are reflective of the many things that the two countries have in common, Garcia added. Â¶15. (U) PARTICIPANTS: GOB: Marcos Aurelio Garcia, International Affairs Advisor to President Lula Ambassador Roberto Abdenur, Brazilian Ambassador to the United States Paulo Chuc, Foreign Ministry Americas Desk Officer Cristian Viana, Foreign Ministry Advisor USG: Deputy Secretary Robert Zoellick Ambassador John Danilovich NSC Senior Director Tom Shannon DCM Phillip Chicola D Chief of Staff Chris Padilla Political Counselor Dennis Hearne (notetaker) Interpreter Â¶16. (U) D/S Zoellick's delegation cleared this message.