DE RUEHBU #1378/01 3521549
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O R 181549Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0208
INFO RHMCSUU/CDR USSOCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
UNCLAS BUENOS AIRES 001378
STATE FOR INR/R/MR, I/GWHA, WHA, WHA/PDA, WHA/BSC, WHA/EPSC
CDR USSOCOM FOR J-2 IAD/LAMA
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KPAO KMDR PREL
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION: A/S VALENZUELA VISIT TO ARGENTINA; 12/18/09;
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION: A/S VALENZUELA VISIT TO ARGENTINA;
12/18/09; BUENOS AIRES
December 17 newspapers reported on Assistant Secretary Valenzuela's
remarks during his December 15-16 visit to Argentina about the
views of U.S. investors regarding legal insecurity and excessive
state intervention, which he contrasted with the more positive mood
during a 1996 visit. Daily-of-record "La Nacion,"
business-financials "Ambito Financiero" and "El Cronista" echoed
Valenzuela's remarks focusing on the need for legal security, while
left-of-center "Pagina 12" and pro-government "Buenos Aires
Economico" were critical of an alleged nostalgia for the Menem
administration, with "Pagina 12" stating that Valenzuela's meeting
with VP Cobos was not tactful. December 18 local dailies report on
an "escalation" in the US-Argentine spat with Argentine Ambassador
to the U.S. Hector Timerman accusing US President Obama of veering
to the right "in the last 48 hours" in his policy on Argentina.
Daily-of-record "La Nacion" and conservative "La Prensa" are
supportive of the U.S. and blame the Argentine government for its
lack of compliance with legal rules. END SUMMARY.
- "The real progressive attitude"
Daily-of-record "La Nacion" (circulation 160,000) carries an
opinion piece by political columnist Fernando Laborda, who writes
(12/17), "CFK has forgotten her personal commitment to
institutional quality from the time she took office. At least this
is what both Assistant Secretary for Latin America Arturo
Valenzuela and Supreme Court Judge Carmen Argibay believe. Both of
them have targeted one of the weakest points of the Kirchner
administration, legal insecurity, which is one of main concerns of
local and foreign businessmen and investors.
"The U.S. companies' concern is not something new. The striking
thing about it is that it was made public by an envoy of Barack
Obama, and the novelty for the CFK administration is that there
does not seem to be substantial differences between a Democratic
administration (just like Obama's) and a Republican one (such as
George W. Bush's) on US policy towards Latin America. In both
cases, they are trying energetically to defend the interests of
the U.S. businessmen all over the world.
"Neither Judge Argibay's progressive attitude nor Obama's seem to
be in alignment with the Kirchners' concept of the same. Perhaps
the time has come for the presidential couple to understand that a
truly progressive attitude, just like a revolutionary one, lies
today in honoring legal security and power division."
- "Valenzuela's nostalgia and the Department of State's scolding
Carlos Eichelbaum, columnist of "Buenos Aires Economico," writes
(12/17), "It is understandable that U.S. businessmen preferred
Carlos Menem, Domingo Cavallo and Roque Fernandez's 'economic
handlings'. The then Labor Minister Armando Caro Figueroa would not
have dared to react just like Carlos Tomada did at the permanent
infringement on laws and court rulings incurred into the Argentine
branch of Kraft multinational corporation, which is precisely a
"Valenzuela's remarks are aligned with the US's brand-new decision
to launch warnings to discipline its 'backyard,' particularly those
Latin American governments that have revealed attitudes of greater
independence from Washington.
"Rather than specific critical statements of business conditions
for U.S. corporations, Valenzuela's comments seem to be intended to
demonstrate that the channels of communication Hillary opened also
include Buenos Aires."
- "Victims of their own deeds"
Daily-of-record "La Nacion" carries an opinion piece by political
analyst Joaquin Morales Sola, who writes (12/18), "Arturo
Valenzuela did not come (to Buenos Aires) to have a dispute with
the Kirchners, but he is used to speaking his mind, particularly
when he discovers that the interests of his country are at risk.
The most important U.S. official for Latin America certainly has
full knowledge of what is going on in Argentina... The Assistant
Secretary's remarks on legal insecurity are in line with those of
U.S. Ambassador Vilma Socorro Martinez just a few days ago. This is
not by chance. They surely voiced the Obama administration's
well-known opinion on the Argentine situation.
"What cannot be understood is why the presidential couple ordered
three ministers to respond to Valenzuela. A possible answer is that
the Kirchners always want to have the last world. Another choice is
that the Kirchners have decided, without any formal announcement,
to be part of the Latin American current led by Hugo Chavez, which
seriously questions the Obama administration. What will the local
government do then with Iran, with which it is in a conflict along
with the US? Even though the Kirchners always believe they are
victims of various situations, they themselves trigger those
- "The nostalgia for '96 and a meeting with an opponent VP"
Left-of-center "Pagina 12" (circulation 15,000) carries an opinion
piece by international analyst Luis Bruschtein, who opines (12/17),
"The visit of the new Assistant Secretary of State for Western
Hemisphere Affairs, Arturo Valenzuela, left little, if anything,
for those who expected a change in the US policy towards Latin
"Valenzuela's meeting with VP Julio Cobos could be more sensitive
than a rebuff to the Government from both Valenzuela and Cobos.
Valenzuela could appear as an 'accomplice' of the institutional
anomaly implied in the fact that a vice president is also an
opposition leader. The meeting was hardly a 'diplomatic' gesture
from the visitor.
"Valenzuela's remarks that U.S. businessmen are nostalgic for 1996
imply a 'slap on the face' that almost no one expected from an
"While Valenzuela met with other members of the opposition, his
meeting with VP Cobos implied a higher commitment because by doing
so, Valenzuela infringed on basic diplomatic premises."
- "A message with Obama's wink"
Fernando Gonzalez, editor of business-financial "El Cronista,"
(circulation 12,000) writes (12/17), "The relationship between the
Cristina Kirchner and the Obama administrations did not start well.
On January 20, when Barack Obama was sworn in (the first black
president in the US history), the Argentine President was
photographed in Cuba with Raul Castro during a visit to the island.
Obama has already met with Lula, Michelle Bachelet and Tabare
Vazquez, although he has not met with CFK... This is why one can
understand the current spat between both governments sparked by
Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs Arturo
Valenzuela's remarks that U.S. businessmen are 'concerned' over
legal insecurity. The problem for the Kirchners is that Obama is
not the only one who thinks that legal security is being affected
in the country, although he is the most powerful man who says it
and he has just conveyed a public message of huge importance to
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