A/S SHANNON MEETINGS WITH SANTA CRUZ LEADERS

Código Fecha Clasificación Origen
08LAPAZ1645 31 July 2008 Confidencial Embassy La Paz

Buscar la fuente: [Wikileaks] [MRKVA] [Google]

VZCZCXRO0577
PP RUEHLMC
DE RUEHLP #1645/01 2131748
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 311748Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY LA PAZ
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8114
INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION PRIORITY 8190
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA PRIORITY 5546
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 9485
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES PRIORITY 6705
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 3807
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA PRIORITY 4091
RUEHME/AMEMBASSY MEXICO PRIORITY 2287
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO PRIORITY 5643
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY 6426
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO PRIORITY 1150
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL PRIORITY 0854
RUEHRI/AMCONSUL RIO DE JANEIRO PRIORITY 1009
RUEHSO/AMCONSUL SAO PAULO PRIORITY 2284
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEHUB/USINT HAVANA PRIORITY 1311
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL PRIORITY
RUEHLMC/MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORP PRIORITY
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 LA PAZ 001645

SIPDIS

PASS TO USAID/LAC

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/01/2018
TAGS: PREL, PGOV, ECON, EAID, SNAR, ASEC, BL
SUBJECT: A/S SHANNON MEETINGS WITH SANTA CRUZ LEADERS

Classified By: DCM Krishna R. Urs for reason 1.4 b and d.

1. (C) Summary: Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere
Affairs Thomas Shannon met separately July 23 with Santa Cruz
Prefect Ruben Costas and with a group of ten private business
leaders. Costas and the businessmen briefed Shannon on the
history of the autonomy movements in Bolivia’s Eastern "Media
Luna" Departments, urged ATPDEA renewal, asked the U.S. to
continue supporting Bolivia through USAID and
counternarcotics assistance, and requested USG help spreading
information about what is happening in Bolivia through the
international community. Costas said he is actively
campaigning to remain in office through the August 10
revoking referendum, which he does not believe will change
anything. The only solution to the current political crisis
will be a national pact where both sides make concessions,
but the government and opposition have not come to that yet.
A/S Shannon assured Costas and the other leaders that the USG
is committed to Bolivia, and pointed out that the opposition
has many strengths that can help resolve the situation
peacefully. End summary.

2. (C) Costas was accompanied by Bolivia’s leading
constitutional lawyer and drafter of the Santa Cruz Autonomy
Statute, Juan Carlos Urenda, and by the Prefecture’s General
Secretary, Roly Aguilera. Costas took a very diplomatic and
reasonable tone, explaining how the wide support throughout
Bolivia for Evo Morales when Morales entered the presidency
had eroded. "What we need," said Costas, "is a government
that respects the rule of law and democratic institutions.
But what we have is an authoritarian government that wants to
impose its views at the cost of democracy." Urenda added
that the new draft constitution was supposed to incorporate
regional autonomy, but when the Morales government forced
through its own draft without details on autonomy, the
logical step was for those regions that had voted for
autonomy to enact their own autonomy statutes. The Central
Government’s refusal to recognize the results of the autonomy
referenda has resulted in confrontation, and the
international community could help by persuading Morales to
recognize those votes.

3. (C) Costas told A/S Shannon that in spite of the unequal
rules for the upcoming August 10 revoking referendum, which
favors MAS prefects, he is certain the prefects in the four
"autonomous" departments (Santa Cruz, Tarija, Beni, and
Pando) will remain in office. He noted that the Morales
government had destroyed the once-respected National
Electoral Court and that fraud was expected. In any case,
the referendum was a smokescreen that would not resolve the
real problems of fuel shortages, inflation, and poverty. The
only solution to the current political impasse was a true
dialogue that would result in a national pact, in which the
old right would give up its privileged position and stop
talking about a possible coup d’etat, everyone would stop
racist rhetoric, and the government would cede its extreme
leftist policies. The question is whether the Morales
government will ever agree to give way on its radical agenda.

Please Renew ATPDEA


4. (C) A/S Shannon told both Costas and the business leaders
that the U.S. had important decisions to make: whether to
certify that Bolivia was cooperating in the fight against
narcotrafficking and whether to support ATPDEA renewal.
President of the Santa Cruz Chamber of Commerce (CAINCO)
Eduardo Paz argued strongly in favor of extending ATPDEA. He
said that although the trade preferences mostly benefit
maquiladoras in El Alto, i.e. supporters of President

LA PAZ 00001645 002 OF 002

Morales, the workers relied on production for exportation
that answered market demands, all principles that CAINCO
espouses. Today’s political opponents were in reality
natural allies in the fight to preserve a free market system.
Costas also argued in favor of ATPDEA renewal as necessary
for stability and to prevent a rush on Santa Cruz land by
disenfranchised altiplano workers.

Counternarcotics Certification


5. (C) Guido Nayar, the President of the Santa Cruz Cattle
Ranchers’ Federation and formerly minister of government
under the Banzer administration that employed tactics such as
forced eradication, talked in length about Bolivia’s
narcotrafficking problem. He berated Morales’ pro-coca
policies, which have resulted in record coca cultivation and
a burgeoning drug trade which is becoming more open and less
shameful each day. His bottom line was that the U.S. should
not abandon Bolivia, because the current government cannot
handle the problem on its own, and future governments would
have an even bigger mess to clean up.

The Role of Venezuela


6. (C) All the interlocutors are appalled at the role
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is playing in Bolivia.
Costas theorized that Chavez is encouraging Morales to
"eliminate the competition," i.e. non-Venezuelan sources of
foreign aid. He said that international organizations are
playing the role of international observers who understand
what is really happening in the country. The opposition
feels dwarfed by the government’s propoganda machine, both
inside Bolivia and in the international arena, and would like
the USG to help spread accurate information about Bolivia to
other international players. Costas added that Bolivia,
unlike Venezuela, is not loaded with petrodollars and cannot
afford to lose the foreign assistance provided by USAID and
others. Costas also expressed doubt that all of the money in
the "Evo delivers, Bolivia changes" campaign was truly
Venezuelan, but that it might be a front for narcodollars.
Costas reassured A/S Shannon that "In this part of Bolivia,
there is respect and affection for your country. We feel
gratitude for your assistance." The business leaders later
echoed that sentiment. A/S Shannon assured them that the
U.S. values its relationship with Bolivia.

7. (U) U/S Shannon cleared this cable.
GOLDBERG