Viewing cable 08MONTEVIDEO505
Title: TOUR D'HORIZON WITH URUGUAYAN FM FERNANDEZ

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08MONTEVIDEO5052008-09-05 16:54:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Montevideo
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SUBJECT: TOUR D'HORIZON WITH URUGUAYAN FM FERNANDEZ 
 
REF: A) MVD 488 B) MVD 479 
 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR FRANK BAXTER, FOR REASONS 1.4 (B) & (D) 
 
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Summary 
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1 (SBU) In a private dinner meeting on August 28, six months 
after his move from the Presidency to the Foreign Ministry, 
Gonzalo Fernandez discussed the goals he hopes to achieve in 
the next year and a half.  Although President Vazquez 
continues to look to him as a key advisor, Fernandez is 
increasingly focused on foreign policy, delegating other 
government priorities to the appropriate Cabinet Ministers. 
He provided an overview of Uruguay,s foreign and domestic 
policy challenges, including a preview of issues he plans to 
raise with USG officials during his upcoming visit to New 
York for the UNGA (Sept 20-30) and Washington (Oct 1-3).  End 
Summary. 
 
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Peacekeeping 
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¶2. (C) On August 29, Uruguay played host to a quarterly 
meeting of the vice ministers of defense and state of the 
nine Latin American countries involved in peacekeeping in 
Haiti -- those are Argentina; Bolivia; Brazil; Chile; 
Ecuador; Guatemala; Paraguay; Peru; and Uruguay.  Colombia 
also participated, as an observer.  The vice ministers agreed 
to request an extension of the current MINUSTAH mandate, 
framing it as a way to assist Haiti's social and economic 
recovery.  Comment: The Uruguayan government continues to 
grapple with its ambivalence over Uruguayan military 
involvement in peacekeeping, particularly in Haiti.  While 
the military itself is supportive because of the financial 
advantages for individual soldiers and the military as a 
whole, leftist political leaders have framed PKO work as an 
unwelcome militarization.  The GOU has, for some time now, 
sought U.S. and Canadian (and at our suggestion, OAS), 
financial support for a vaguely defined democracy assistance 
project.  End Comment. 
 
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Regional Politics 
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¶3. (C) On the status of the OAS efforts to calm tensions 
between Colombia/Ecuador, Fernandez said that all appears to 
be quiet under the surface, pointing to the fact that Ecuador 
was the second country to agree to the involvement of 
Colombia in the peacekeeping meeting.  Regarding Venezuela, 
Fernandez commented that Venezuelan Foreign Minister Maduro 
brought 40 people to his one day meeting in Montevideo on 
August 17, an indication that the GOV is finally planning to 
live up to its promises.  Despite reservations about Chavez, 
the GOU felt it had to be pragmatic and work with him. 
 
¶4. (C) Uruguayans were enraged by Ecuador,s nomination of 
Nestor Kirchner to be the Secretary General of Unasur, seeing 
it as a betrayal, despite Uruguay,s nuanced stance vis-a-vis 
Ecuador in its dispute with Colombia.  Fernandez is quietly 
lobbying Peru and Colombia to oppose the involvement of an 
ex-President in this role.  He said that Uruguay can,t 
object alone to Kirchner's nomination, because &the revenge 
would be too dangerous.8  Fernandez hopes to balance the 
weight of Argentina and Brazil by expanding the membership of 
Unasur. 
 
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Georgia 
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¶5. (C) Ambassador laid out the USG position on Georgia and 
urged Fernandez to condemn the Russian recognition of 
Abkhazia and South Ossetia.  Fernandez noted that he had also 
received heavy pressure from Germany on this issue, but, as 
with Kosovo, Fernandez expects to keep Uruguay out of the 
fray by not taking a stand.  The GOU sees little to gain from 
going out on a limb on an issue that divides the Security 
Council (Ref A). 
 
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National Politics 
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¶6. (C) Fernandez is concerned that Senator Jose Mujica 
(former Tupamaro guerrilla and Minister of Agriculture under 
Vazquez until February 2008) will ignore President Vazquez,s 
preferences, run for the Frente Amplio party,s presidential 
nomination, and win handily against Minister of Economy 
Astori, who is blamed by the middle class for the 
introduction of the new income tax about a year ago. 
Although there have been some calls for President Vazquez to 
run again (it would require a change of the Constitution) or 
for other candidates to emerge, Fernandez considers this 
unlikely.  Fernandez predicts that the opposition nationalist 
party nomination will likely go to Senator Jorge Larranaga 
(who Fernandez views as too inexperienced for the job); 
former President Luis Alberto Lacalle is gaining in the polls 
but ultimately will not overcome dissatisfaction in some 
quarters with his previous tenure as President.  In a contest 
between Larranaga and Mujica, many believe Larranaga would 
pool together enough votes from the opposition parties and 
Frente Amplio moderates to win. 
 
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U.S.-Uruguay Bilateral Relations 
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¶7. (C) Trade: Fernandez would like to sign annexes to our 
Trade & Investment framework agreement dealing with trade and 
environment cooperation and trade facilitation during his 
coming trip to the U.S. (probably in Washington at the end of 
September).  Fernandez also would like to sign a biofuels 
cooperation MOU with State during this visit.  Finally, in 
the trade area, Fernandez said that Brazil is making another 
push for Doha; if this fails, Brazil will advocate for a 
Mercosur-European Union trade agreement. 
 
¶8. (U) Science and Technology: Fernandez is looking forward 
to seeing U/S for Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky in New York 
to discuss areas for cooperation on science and technology. 
The ambassador explained that our key areas of focus are 
helping establish a National Cancer Institute in Uruguay and 
increased information exchange. 
 
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Pending Extradition Request 
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¶9. (C) Fernandez noted that the GOU is taking steps to 
prepare for a possible State Department decision to extradite 
former banker Juan Peirano-Basso to Uruguay in mid-September. 
 Fernandez also repeated the GOU,s request for a 
humanitarian pardon for former honorary consul Richard 
Stanham (currently in jail in Texas).  Stanham continues to 
have health problems, Fernandez said.  Ambassador explained 
that the pardon request had been conveyed to the appropriate 
office in the Department of Justice, and is being considered. 
 
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Bio Note 
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¶10. (SBU) The Foreign Minister,s wife Cecilia is an active 
criminal defense attorney (primarily liability law), just as 
the Minister was prior to joining the government.  Her other 
interests are architecture, art, and music, but she says her 
work dominates her time.  She recently underwent treatment 
for breast cancer, and has been cancer free for a year. 
 
Baxter