Cablegate: Embassy Brasilia

Published: Fri 19 Aug 2005 05:05 PM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
191755Z Aug 05
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/19/2015
REF: STATE 149277
1. (C) Introduction: Ambassador, accompanied by PolCouns, met on 19 August 2005 with Foreign Minister Celso Amorim and his chief of staff, to review a range of issues (with focus on reftel Haiti demarche) and discuss the Ambassador's departure from Brazil later in the year to assume the Chief Executive Officer position at the Millennium Challenge Corporation. Amorim congratulated the Ambassador on the MCC appointment, while expressing regret at his departure, and listened with interest to explanations of the functioning and mission of the MCC as envisaged by the USG and congress. Amorim said that he is considering a trip to the United States on 27 September to address the U.S.-Brazil Business Council, but would only go if he could also secure a "substantive" meeting on that date with Secretary Rice, where he would hope to discuss Haiti and UN reform. (Ambassador undertook to follow-up with Department.) Detailed reporting of the meeting, issue by issue, follows below. End introduction..
HAITI -----
2. (C) FM Amorim, on his own initiative, raised Haiti with Ambassador. Noting his discussions on Haiti with Secretary Rice on the margins of the OAS General Assembly and in a subsequent telcon, Amorim said he believed the USG and GOB are in substantial agreement on most aspects of the way ahead. Amorim then raised the following concerns and questions:
--Brazil and other MINUSTAH contingents had launched successful "robust operations" in areas of Port-au-Prince over the past several weeks, Amorim said. In that context, he asked about USG funds for civil affairs and humanitarian projects that he had been led to understand would follow immediately on forceful MINUSTAH suppression actions against gangs and violent groups. Amorim could not cite specific information about the funds, but reiterated that the GOB had believed targeted assistance efforts would come immediately in the wake of military operations, in order to consolidate stability and gain public good will. He said reports he was receiving did not indicate that such efforts had moved ahead, and Amorim stressed their importance.
--A second priority, Amorim opined, was the urgent need to reinforce the size and capacity of MINUSTAH's police component. Follow-up actions with the civilian population in the wake of military operations, as well as general public order efforts and training of local police, are best carried out by civilian police contingents, rather than soldiers, Amorim opined.
--Thirdly, Amorim asked to work with the USG on broad public diplomacy efforts that can increase the international and Brazilian publics' understanding and support for MINUSTAH's mission in Haiti. Noting the protests and criticism by some NGOs that followed MINUSTAH's aggressive recent actions, and the risk of "collateral damage" to civilians inherent always in such operations, Amorim said there is a need to counter negative reactions with a strong message that focuses on the assistance and stability that MINUSTAH and the international community are trying to bring to Haiti.
3. (C) Ambassador undertook to follow up with Washington on the questions and issues raised by Amorim, and then made reftel demarche points to Amorim on the importance of maintaining a strong MINUSTAH presence in Haiti beyond the February 2006 elections. (Note: PolCouns had also provided reftel demarche points on 15 August to MRE Assistant Secretary for International Organization Affairs Antonio SIPDIS Guerreiro. End note.) Amorim said that he agreed with reftel's position. He added that President Lula da Silva has also come to believe that a solid international presence over a longer term beyond the election and a carefully planned draw down are essential for Haiti's stability. Amorim noted that Lula had recently viewed a documentary on the Rwanda genocide which had left a strong impression, and the president had told Amorim that Brazil must remain committed in Haiti and do everything it can to assure the country does not face a violent meltdown. Amorim expressed high confidence in Brazil's new ambassador in Port-au-Prince and in the new Brazilian MINUSTAH commander, and also expressed gratitude for USG support for retaining a Brazilian in overall command of the mission. Amorim did note that election year debates and pressures in 2006 may become a factor for the GOB in defending its continued commitment in MINUSTAH, and hence a public diplomacy effort, per comments above, could be helpful. Amorim also said Brazil continues to work on its national assistance projects with Haiti, notably a waste treatment facility and a school meals program, but that these had moved slowly and were on a limited scale in comparison to USG assistance plans.
OAS SOCIAL CHARTER ------------------
4. (C) Ambassador raised USG concerns regarding Venezuelan Government efforts to put forward a draft Social Charter for the OAS at a GOV-sponsored "ministerial" meeting in Caracas on 28 August. He stressed that the USG will not send a ministerial-level representative. The USG believes, he added, that the national proposal coming from Venezuela does not merit special consideration. U.S. and other member states also have contributions and views that must be taken into account in discussing a charter. Amorim replied that he definitely would not be attending the Caracas meeting, and was not aware of plans to attend by any other GOB minister. The GOB position is that a social charter, as with other OAS documents, must be a product of consensus and appropriate institutional discussions among all OAS member states, Amorim affirmed.
COMPULSORY LICENSING --------------------
5. (C) Ambassador voiced continued USG concerns about the potential for compulsory licensing of U.S. HIV/AIDS medications in Brazil. Amorim replied that he strongly prefers a negotiated settlement of the question with U.S. companies, and will continue to work with the health ministry and others to achieve that outcome. Amorim did opine that, in his view, U.S. companies need to produce more forward-leaning proposals for negotiation. Further, Amorim's view is that it is legitimate under the TRIPS mechanism for Brazil to implement compulsory licensing given the free, public health aspect of its HIV/AIDS programs, if a negotiated outcome is not reached. Ambassador noted that this would be a misuse of TRIPS, in the USG's view. Amorim rejoined that he and his ministry seek a negotiated accord.
POSSIBLE POTUS VISIT --------------------
6. (C) Amorim asked about plans for a POTUS visit later in the year, and was assured by Ambassador that planning continues apace for a visit and there may be a public announcement after in the near future. Amorim and the Ambassador agreed that a two-stop visit, including Brasilia and one other destination in Brazil, would be attractive and should be further considered. A visit would be salutary for bilateral relations, both agreed, as would further efforts to develop joint U.S.-Brazil assistance projects in both Haiti and Africa.
7. (C) Comment. Amorim was relaxed and amiable in the forty-minute meeting, and Haiti was clearly his central theme. His personal commitment appears solid, and we also believe that Lula likely considers the Brazilian-led Haiti mission as a legacy achievement for his mandate. Hence the GOB appears to be on board with contributing to a continued international presence beyond the February 2006 elections, but its worries about negative public-relations blowback from forceful military operations may continue and intensify as Brazil's own 2006 elections approach, and if the corruption scandals rocking Lula's government weaken GOB credibility in defending a mission that does not enjoy a broad base of support in Brazilian society. On that point, Amorim's appeals for a public diplomacy campaign and immediate civil affairs and humanitarian projects to consolidate Haitian support are real and urgent requests for efforts that may reinforce the GOB's position with its own public.
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