Viewing cable 07MONTEVIDEO1061
Title: FRENTE AMPLIO: UNABLE TO ELECT A LEADER, BUT

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07MONTEVIDEO10612007-12-27 15:02:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Montevideo
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P 271502Z DEC 07
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C O N F I D E N T I A L MONTEVIDEO 001061 
 
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E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/27/2017 
TAGS: PGOV PREL ETRD UY
SUBJECT: FRENTE AMPLIO: UNABLE TO ELECT A LEADER, BUT 
UNITED AGAINST THE U.S. 
 
 
Classified By: Charge d,Affaires a.i. Peter X. Harding for Reasons 1.4 
(b) and (d) 
 
SUMMARY 
------- 
 
¶1. (SBU) Summary:  The Frente Amplio (FA) failed to elect a 
new leader to head the coalition's political apparatus during 
its semi-annual congress December 13-16.  Coalition leaders 
worked late into the night before and during the meetings, 
seeking consensus as to who would lead the FA, an important 
bellwether before the Frente later chooses who will be its 
candidate for president in 2009.  None was reached. 
President Vazquez unsuccessfully proposed four potential 
candidates.  The end result was that current FA President 
Jorge Brovetto will continue as caretaker in that post until 
the next FA congress in April.  While unable to choose a 
leader, the FA did weigh in against an FTA with the U.S., 
upping the ante for Vazquez as he considers ways to open 
Uruguay's economy.  END SUMMARY. 
 
THE FRENTE POSTPONES CHOOSING ITS NEXT LEADER 
--------------------------------------------- 
 
¶2. (SBU) The FA held its semi-annual congress December 13-16. 
 The task at hand was to select a new FA president -- 
something coalition leaders were unable to manage.  Constanza 
Moreira, a political analyst backed by the FA's largest 
party, the Popular Participation Movement (MPP), could only 
garner 41% support, well short of the 66% consensus required 
by the coalition's statutes.  The MPP, representing 30% of 
delegates, combined with the Vertiente Artiguista Party and 
others in support of Moreira.  MPP leader and Minister of 
Agriculture Jose Mujica lamented his candidate's impending 
defeat during remarks to the congress, "you have massacred 
this independent comrade."  In remarks to the press later, 
Mujica insisted that "life goes on," and accepted that 
consensus had not been reached.  He recalled that current FA 
president Jorge Brovetto was elected by a small margin, and 
added, "The old Frente Amplio members among us are accustomed 
to such events."  Moreira was the only candidate considered 
by the full congress. 
 
¶3. (SBU) The Communist Party (PCU) played a key role in 
opposing Moreira and instead championed a change to the FA's 
charter to create a secretariat with a rotating presidency 
until consensus emerged.  While the Frente did not seriously 
consider this change, media reports touted the Communist 
Party's success in stopping Moreira's candidacy while 
boosting the far left's influence ahead of an eventual FA 
leadership decision. 
 
VAZQUEZ UNABLE TO INFLUENCE THE FRENTE 
-------------------------------------- 
 
¶4. (SBU) Sources close to President Vazquez, who did not 
support the MPP's Moreira, seemed content that the decision 
was postponed.  However, during the course of the congress, 
Vazquez floated four potential candidates to lead the FA, 
none of whom were finally considered by the congress.  They 
included: Fabricio Siniscalchi, Brovetto's right hand man in 
the FA, Hector Lescano, the Minister of Tourism, Senator 
Alberto Curiel, and Eduardo Fernandez, the Secretary General 
of Vazquez' Socialist Party.  The President's inability to 
bring any of his preferred candidates before the congress for 
a vote was considered proof by some observers that the 
president is out of step with the FA, or vice versa.  NOTE: 
The question remains whether Vazquez will succeed in bringing 
the FA around to his positions as he has so many times in the 
past.  END NOTE. 
 
FRENTE UNITED AGAINST FREE TRADE 
-------------------------------- 
 
¶5. (SBU) While the question of leadership vexed the Frente, 
its governing body was united in rejecting the prospect of a 
Free Trade Agreement with the U.S.  The FA congress also 
urged the GOU to carefully consider the details of the Trade 
and Investment Framework (TIFA) currently being negotiated. 
The congress called for special attention to the TIFA 
chapters on intellectual property rights, government 
purchases, and public services, warning that "if these 
(chapters) were not compatible with national interests they 
would be not be accepted by the political establishment." 
 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
¶6. (C) COMMENT: The FA congress' preemptive rejection of an 
FTA with the U.S. ups the ante for Vazquez, should he seek to 
actively pursue such an agreement.  However, Vazquez still 
enjoys higher approval ratings than his party and has shown 
in the past his ability to bring the FA on board to achieve 
his objectives.  General public opinion is also in favor of 
increased trade ties. 
 
¶7. (C) COMMENT CONTINUED:  The Frente Amplio will likely face 
continued difficulty in selecting its coalition president, a 
challenge that we expect will be magnified even further as it 
sets about choosing a candidate for the 2009 presidential 
elections.  The lack of an obvious political heir to 
President Vazquez, the backdrop of recent allegations of 
corruption within the FA, and the far left's dissatisfaction 
with a government it views as too centrist, will combine to 
make an interesting political cocktail in the months to come. 
 The FA's public image is languishing.  A December 10 poll by 
Factum showed the FA with its lowest approval rating since 
early 2002 - 44%(compared to 57% in March 2007) - while 
Vazquez' approval ratings rose back to 52%.  However, despite 
the FA's internal strife, opposition parties are even less 
cohesive and the Frente remains the current odds-on favorite 
to maintain the presidency in 2009.  Finally, there are 
strong rumors that Vazquez will shuffle his cabinet next 
February -- ministers who might be replaced are Azucena 
Berutti (defense), Mariano Arana (housing, and Reinaldo 
Gargani (foreign affairs).  If true, the new ministers should 
reveal clues on the future direction of the GOU and the 
extent to which the FA influences it. 
Harding