DE RUEHSO #0045 0191200
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 191200Z JAN 07
FM AMCONSUL SAO PAULO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6290
INFO RHEHNSC/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 7369
RUEHRI/AMCONSUL RIO DE JANEIRO PRIORITY 7714
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC 2686 UNCLAS SAO PAULO 000045
STATE INR/R/MR; IIP/R/MR; WHA/PD
DEPT PASS USTR
E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: WESTERN HEMISPHERE: MERCOSUL SUMMIT IN RIO DE JANEIRO;
CHAVEZ'S REGIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL INFLUENCE; SAO PAULO
1. "Lost Mercosul"
Center-right national circulation daily O Estado de S. Paulo (1/19)
maintained: "In 2006, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay
imprudently accepted Colonel Hugo Chvez's Venezuela as a member of
Mercosul.... With five partners, Mercosul is weaker than it was with
four. With six [if Bolivia is admitted in the bloc] the bloc will be
even more fragile or more disjointed.... Speaking about
strengthening the bloc nears insanity: with partners like Chvez's
Venezuela and Morales' Bolivia, Mercosul only becomes weaker and
more distant from its original goal. Among its members, only
Paraguay and Uruguay seem to have realistically evaluated the
opportunities lost over the recent years.... Hugo Chvez's Venezuela
does not add anything but problems to Mercosul. The caudillo has
already shown his opposition to the liberation of agricultural trade
in the Doha Round as supported in rare unanimity by the other
Mercosul partners. The entry of Evo Morales' Bolivia in the bloc
will make even more difficult a consensus on international matters
of concrete interest for Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay."
2. "Bloc Of "Blah Blah Blah""
Liberal, largest national circulation daily Folha de S. Paulo
editorialized (1/19): "There is in South America an exhausting
repetition of boring summit meetings in which leaders swear
reciprocal friendship and discourse on the virtues of cooperation.
Despite this friendly climate, governments foster irreconcilable
policies, interregional institutions do not work and economic
interactions become damaged.... What kind of advantage does the
presence of a Chavist Venezuela bring to Mercosul?.... It is obvious
that private companies will hesitate to invest in the region when
Bolivia and Venezuela nationalize entire sectors of the economy....
Chvez harasses the oppositionist media and will now rule by
decree.... Mercosul's most profound fissure, however, is in the
bloc's core.... This would be the moment to abandon the customs
union chimerical project - through which Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay
and Paraguay would work as a single nation in trade relations with
other blocs or nations. It would be more feasible to work as free
trade association (zero tariff among partners) with respected
institutions to solve conflicts."
3. "Chvez And Brazil"
Former Foreign Minister Luiz Felipe Lampreia commented in
center-right O Estado de S. Paulo (1/19): "Brazil has a clear South
American agenda based on energetic integration, expansion of our
companies' competitiveness and an increase of trade. Obviously,
Venezuela is a priority in such an agenda and therefore it is in
Brazil's interest to maintain good relations with that nation, an
excellent partner in the three mentioned levels. What is not right
or advisable is to allow Chvez to dictate the course of such
relations.... There are enormous differences of commitment and
conviction between Chvez and Lula. Much more than an ally and
partner, Chvez is Lula's rival who sees in the Brazilian president
a former leftist who 'accommodated to bourgeois interests' and
became pragmatic, the only one able to dim his Latin American
popularity and who represents, contrary to Venezuela, a reliable
interlocutor of the great powers in the world."
4. "Lula Running Behind Chvez"
Liberal Folha de S. Paulo's political columnist Eliane Cantanhede
opined (1/19): "President Lula, Foreign Minister Celso Amorim,
Workers Party members in the government and diplomats in general do
not admit that there is a competition between Brazil and Venezuela,
i.e., between Lula and Chvez, for South American leadership. But it
is clear that it exists. It is a competition that can be seen in
Chvez's personality and petrodollars.... Disputes between Brazil
and Argentina are today part of history.... The dispute of power
today is concentrated in Venezuela. The Mercosul Summit is a kind of
marketplace where smaller partners (Paraguay, Uruguay and probably
Bolivia) offer their conditions, Brazil and Argentina discuss
whether they buy or not and Chvez has fun. Because he advances,
while Lula runs behind, even in their speeches."
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