WHA DAS MCMULLEN,S CLEARS THE AIR ON THE U.S.-COLOMBIA DCA, OPENS DIALOG ON REGIONAL ISSUES

Código Fecha Clasificación Origen
09BRASILIA1076 27 August 2009 Confidencial Embassy Brasilia

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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BRASILIA 001076

SIPDIS

WHA FOR A/S SHANNON, DAS MCMULLEN, AND, AND BSC

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/27/2019
TAGS: PREL, MARR, BR, CO
SUBJECT: WHA DAS MCMULLEN,S CLEARS THE AIR ON THE
U.S.-COLOMBIA DCA, OPENS DIALOG ON REGIONAL ISSUES

BRASILIA 00001076 001.2 OF 003

Classified By: Charge d’Affaires Lisa Kubiske. Reason: 1.4 (d)

1. (C) SUMMARY: WHA Deputy Assistant Secretary Christopher
McMullen,s visit to Brazil and briefings to GOB officials on
the U.S.-Colombia Defense Cooperation Agreement (DCA) helped
ease Brazilian concerns over the issue and spurred new dialog
aimed at greater bilateral and multilateral cooperation with
the United States.
McMullen,s conversations with Brazilian Ministry of Foreign
Relations (Itamaraty) officials and a senior presidency
foreign policy advisor clarified U.S. intentions with the CDA
as preparing part of a long-term strategy to decrease the
U.S. military presence in South America. GOB officials
expressed interest in greater dialog with the United States
on security and regional issues and highlighted several
opportunities for better cooperation and communication in the
future. It appears that the jarring public criticism of the
DCA represents an effort to curry favor with Venezuela in
advance of the UNASUL summit in Bariloche, with the goal of
lowering tensions there and preserving UNASUL. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) Charge hosted a lunch for DAS McMullen August 25
with seven senior Itamaraty officials: Under Secretary for
Political Affairs Ambassador Vera Machado, Under Secretary
for Latin America Ambassador Enio Cordeiro, Pol/Mil Advisor
to Deputy Foreign Minister Guimaraes Ambassador Marcos Pinta
Gama, Policy Planning Director Ambassador Hermano Telles
Ribeiro, US/Canada/Inter-American Affairs Department Head
(Assistant Secretary equivalent) Carlos Abreu, Transnational
Illicit Activities Department Head Virginia Toniatti, and
South America II Department Head Clemente Baena Soares.
Separately, McMullen met with presidency foreign policy
advisor Ambassador Marcel Biato. McMullen also met with
Colombian Ambassador Tony Jozame, who conveyed GOB
officials, positive reception to the clarifications he had
made on the DCA and to his assurances that Brazilian borders
and sovereignty would continue to be respected.

3. (C) In his conversations with GOB officials, McMullen
explained the origins of the U.S.-Colombia DCA and emphasized
that the DCA was meant to lay the foundation for a continued
decrease in U.S. military presence in Colombia. McMullen
highlighted the routine nature of the agreement and the
explicit provisions requiring respect for Colombia,s and
other nations, sovereignty. McMullen explained that the DCA
does not expand the scope of U.S. presence in Colombia, and
made clear that the U.S. goal is to civilianize its presence
in Latin America, in particular because we understand the
history and sensitivity of U.S. presence in the region.
McMullen stressed that the USG and GOC did not want to
discuss the DCA prior to concluding negotiations, and only
did so after the details were leaked to the Colombian press.
He noted that such agreements are so common that they should
not raise suspicion. McMullen acknowledged, however, that
lack of information had raised concerns, which is why he was
visiting Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina.

NATIONAL, REGIONAL SENSITIVITIES ON FULL DISPLAY


4. (C) Itamaraty officials and Biato showed a great deal of
interest in the details of the DCA. Machado said the GOB was
surprised to find out about the agreement through the media
and emphasized that part of Brazil,s concern stems in large
measure from the lack of information available on the DCA.
Machado identified security of the Brazilian Amazon and
regional stability as important and sensitive issues for
Brazil. She explained that there is a perception among
Brazilians, especially those in the north, that the Amazon is
a region coveted by foreigners searching for biodiversity and
natural resources who have a hidden interest in taking it
over. Therefore, any foreign presence near the Amazon region
can become an explosive issue. Machado also highlighted that
news of the DCA came out at a time of significant regional
tensions and as Brazil was in the process of consolidating
UNASUL as a mechanism for addressing those tensions. While
respecting Colombia,s sovereign right to negotiate the DCA,
Brazil could not ignore the serious implications for
stability in the region. Biato explained that, as long as the
United States maintains a presence in the region, it will be
a difficult and neuralgic issue that will periodically
resurface and require constant management. While Brazil
understands the reasons for a U.S. presence in Colombia,

BRASILIA 00001076 002.2 OF 003

Biato said, the GOB,s goal is to work to remove the
conditions that make this presence necessary.

5. (C) Both Biato and Machado requested greater information
sharing and guarantees. Machado requested written assurances
that equipment at the Colombian bases would not be used to
violate the sovereignty of neighboring countries and that the
U.S. presence would not expand beyond Colombia,s borders.
(Colombian Ambassador Jozame told McMullen that GOB officials
had asked the GOC to add a clause to the DCA specifying that
actions are only to be undertaken within Colombian borders.)
Machado also suggested that the DCA document be made
available before the next UNASUL meeting, scheduled for
August 28 in Bariloche, as she believed the provisions for
respect of other nations, sovereignty would help allay
concerns.

TAKING THE OPPORTUNITY TO SEEK GREATER BILATERAL DIALOG


6. (C) Biato stressed that, because of the history of U.S.
presence in the region, the United States and Brazil need to
have a more fluid dialog that allows Brazil to develop a
level of trust regarding U.S. actions in the region. The goal
is not to agree on everything, but to discuss sensitive
issues so that Brazil can demonstrate to its South American
neighbors that it has a full understanding of what the United
States is doing in the region. Itamaraty officials expressed
interest in restarting Pol/Mil talks, both on a formal and
informal level, as a way to increase dialogue and smooth
discussions on sensitive issues like the Colombian bases. GOB
officials also raised the possibility of increased
intelligence sharing between the United States and Colombia
and other UNASUL countries. McMullen said such increased
cooperation is worth exploring.

PRESSING FOR INTERVENTION IN HONDURAS


7. (C) GOB officials pushed for greater U.S. response and
intervention in Honduras. Biato said Brazilian President Lula
was pleased to hear from President Obama that the USG would
consider addition measures in Honduras. He compared the
pressure the United States is receiving on Honduras and
Venezuela to the heat the GOB has taken for its stance with
Bolivia, Ecuador, and Paraguay. "It is the price you pay for
doing the right thing." With Biato and Itamaraty officials,
McMullen said the U.S. was prepared to ratchet up the
pressure on the Micheletti de facto government. However, he
said that many in the United States perceive a contradiction
in applying the Inter-American Democratic Charter (IADC) to
Honduras without also raising IADC-related issues in
Venezuela. Biato responded it is the GOB,s assessment that
Venezuela is "not on the path toward" and "nowhere near" an
authoritarian regime, and that they do not believe public
criticism of Chavez is helpful. Biato and Itamaraty
officials suggested that it would be important for the United
States and Brazil to discuss implementation of the IADC, as a
common understanding of its provisions and requirements is
essential to implementing it.

POTENTIAL OPENING FOR TRILATERAL COOPERATION WITH BOLIVIA


8. (C) Itamaraty officials highlighted their interest and an
opening for possible trilateral cooperation on
counternarcotics issues with Bolivia and the United States.
Cordeiro said Brazilian Foreign Minister Amorim recently
raised the possibility of joint cooperation with the United
States in a meeting with the Bolivian Foreign Minister, who
agreed it would be beneficial. Cordeiro asked for concrete
ways in which the United States and Brazil could engage
Bolivia. He noted that Bolivian sensitivities with regard to
DEA and, more broadly, U.S. respect for Bolivian sovereignty
are substantial, and will need to be taken into account. But
he added that the Bolivians are waiting for a signal from the
United States to increase engagement. Machado and Cordeiro
stressed the importance of reinstating ATPDEA privileges.
They said Brazil will replace USD 21 million of lost ATPDEA
market in Bolivia, and Argentina USD 9 million. McMullen
explained the U.S. efforts at bilateral dialogue with Bolivia
and the complexities of certification and the ATPDEA process.
He agreed that a discussion on how our two countries could

BRASILIA 00001076 003.2 OF 003

engage Bolivia on counternarcotics cooperation would be
useful.

MEANWHILE, OUT IN THE MEDIA


9. (U) During McMullen,s discussions with GOB officials,
media outlets were highlighting comments by FM Amorim
regarding Brazil,s deep concern over the DCA and demanding
that the United States answer to the region,s concerns.
Amorim this week has publicly demanded transparency and
guarantees with the U.S.-Colombia DCA, insisting that
language be included in the agreement limiting the use of the
equipment at the bases to combating narcotrafficking and the
FARC. Following the phone call between President Lula and
President Obama, Amorim told the press that President Obama
is considering a request to meet with UNASUL countries in the
near future. And even after various USG efforts to explain
the nature of the DCA, Amorim continued to refer to the bases
as "foreign bases" and claimed that the agreement and the
"foreign presence" could bring to South America "problems
that are not from the region."

COMMENT: WHAT BRAZIL IS UP TO


10. (C) DAS McMullen,s visit to explain the DCA was well
received by the GOB as fulfillment of promises by General
Jones during his visit and, we understand, President Obama
during his phone call with President Lula, to provide greater
detail on the DCA. The openings on Pol-Mil talks, CN
cooperation with Bolivia, and discussions of the IADC are all
indications of a new posture toward the United States that
suggest the GOB heard, internalized, and wants to respond to
the expressed interest in broader and more transparent
communication brought by National Security Advisor Jones and
other senior Administration officials over the last few
weeks. We believe there is a genuine desire on the part of
the GOB to explore greater options for bilateral cooperation.

11. (C) In light of the private overtures made to McMullen,
Amorim,s continued outbursts to the press are jarring. In
explaining these press statements to Charge and PolCouns,
Biato has both suggested, in the first instance, that the
press has an axe to grind and cannot be trusted to accurately
convey the GOB,s position. There is some truth to this, as
Brazil,s major newspapers have consistently expressed
disagreement with the GOB,s regional foreign policy, but it
does not account for what are clearly accurate quotes from
Amorim. In this regard, Biato has explained that, as Brazil
tries to maintain its role as mediator among its bickering
neighbors, the GOB has to stay in the center of the regional
debate. In this instance, this has required the GOB to shift
its public rhetoric toward Venezuela. In other words,
although Amorim,s comments seem to be heightening emotions
rather than lowering them, the GOB has assessed that
Venezuela is the more problematic neighbor to deal with, and
sees public statements supportive of its position as helpful
in gaining support from President Chavez for taking a less
confrontational tone at the upcoming UNASUL summit in
Bariloche.

12. (C) It is entirely plausible that Amorim,s antics are
aimed at making things easier for Brazil in Bariloche. Biato
has told us that Lula was initially reluctant to agree to the
meeting, as they saw the potential for it to add to the
uproar over the DCA. Brazil,s main goal for Bariloche is to
prevent it from destroying the still-shaky UNASUL or
relations with a U.S. Administration with which it is
desperate to cultivate a deeper dialogue.

13. (U) DAS McMullen has cleared this message.
KUBISKE