Viewing cable 09USUNNEWYORK1133
Title: WESTERN HEMISPHERE DELEGATIONS AT THE 64TH UNGA

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09USUNNEWYORK11332009-12-18 17:01:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL USUN New York
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C O N F I D E N T I A L USUN NEW YORK 001133 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/30/2019 
TAGS: ECON PGOV PHUM PREL UNGA XK XL XM
SUBJECT: WESTERN HEMISPHERE DELEGATIONS AT THE 64TH UNGA 
 
REF: A. (A) USUN NEW YORK 997 
     ¶B. (B) USUN NEW YORK 982 
     ¶C. (C) USUN NEW YORK 972 
     ¶D. (D) USUN NEW YORK 878 
     ¶E. (E) USUN NEW YORK 1070 
 
Classified By: Amb.RosemaryDiCarlo 
 
¶1. (C) SUMMARY: President Obama's speech was the high point 
of the UNGA's opening session.  WHA and other delegations 
warmly welcomed his call for a "new era of engagement."  One 
of the most striking expressions of this sentiment came later 
in the session when the Third Committee erupted into applause 
after the U.S. joined consensus on two WHA delegation 
resolutions that we had repeatedly voted against in the past. 
The constitutional crisis in Honduras was closely followed in 
New York, but remained a peripheral issue. On the eve of the 
Copenhagen Conference, climate change was the issue of the 
day and was of central concern to the Caribbeans. There had 
been high expectations for a change in U.S. policy on Cuba. 
While U.S. measures to lift some restrictions were well 
received, the UNGA approved by the usual overwhelming vote 
the 18th resolution condemning the Cuban Embargo. The embargo 
will be among those issues exploited by our critics as the 
initial goodwill from our new approach to multilateral 
diplomacy fades. In this regard, however, it was encouraging 
that close allies abstained on a Cuban resolution against 
unilateral economic sanctions noting that such measures were 
admissible to uphold democracy and human rights. Meanwhile, 
WHA votes helped rack up large margins of victory for the 
three Third Committee human rights resolutions on Iran, North 
Korea and Burma. We were less successful in mobilizing WHA 
support on Middle East issues although the region contributed 
significantly to opposition to or abstentions on the 
Organization of the Islamic Conference's (OIC) problematic 
Defamation of Religions resolution.  Members of the 
Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) became a more 
active and more strident voice against U.S. interests on a 
wide range of issues. Brazil was elected to replace Costa 
Rica as one of the region's two temporary members on the UN 
Security Council. Colombia is expected to replace Mexico on 
the Council next year. END SUMMARY        . 
 
2.(U)  GENERAL DEBATE: This year, nineteen western hemisphere 
Presidents and Prime Ministers came to New York to address 
the opening sessions of the General Assembly -- six less than 
last year. Brazil by tradition leads off the General Debate. 
Economics was the heart of President Lula's speech, slamming 
the failure to regulate financial markets and touting the 
Brazilian experience in managing their "brief" economic 
recession. Next President Obama delivered a speech that 
electrified the General Assembly Hall. The speech was 
universally well received among WHA delegations and set a 
strongly positive tone for subsequent USUN initiatives at the 
GA. Bringing us back down to earth, Venezuelan President Hugo 
Chavez, in a folksy talk-show-host style, delivered a 
hour-long vintage attack on the "empire" while extolling the 
triumphant progress of his alternative universe, the ALBA 
alliance. (REF A) (Chavez brings to each UNGA a fresh set of 
name-droppings, we learned this year that he has been 
hob-nobbing with the likes of Oliver Stone, Juanes, King Juan 
Carlos ("we're great friends") and Danny Glover in clogs.) 
Notably missing from the initial WHA line-up was Honduran 
President Zelaya already ensconced in the Brazilian Embassy 
in Tegucigalpa. Most WHA speakers mentioned the coup d'etat 
 
in Honduras and called for the restoration of President 
Zelaya. Colombia's President Uribe and Panama's Martinelli 
were not among them. 
 
3.(C) THE YEAR OF HONDURAS: On one of the last days of the 
General Debate, Honduran Foreign Minister Patricia Rodas 
stepped in to replace President Zelaya in the General Debate. 
 At the podium, she whipped out her cell phone, and there, in 
a special verizon moment, live from downtown Tegucigalpa was 
President Zelaya urging the international community to rally 
to his cause. Before the 64th Session was even convened, the 
constitutional crisis in Honduras had been introduced into 
the General Assembly resulting in a resolution condemning the 
coup shortly after it occurred. The issue remained a source 
of contention within the Group of Latin America and the 
Caribbean (GRULAC) in coming months as the ALBA group led by 
Venezuela maneuvered to further involve the United Nations. 
At the same time, Zelaya's hosts, the Brazilians, while doing 
little to resolve the crisis, became increasingly strident 
about the diplomatic sanctity of their Mission in 
Tegucigalpa.  On October 28, there was further debate on 
Honduras under the GA agenda item "The Situation in Central 
America." (REF 972) In that debate, Honduran Permanent 
Representative Jorge Arturo Reina pointedly thanked the U.S. 
for its effort to broker a negotiated solution to the 
standoff in Tegucigalpa.  Long friendly to the U.S. Mission 
despite Honduras's ALBA membership, Reina and his Deputy were 
extremely helpful in managing the issue in New York. Reina 
subsequently left New York for Honduras to become Zelaya's 
appointee on the Verification Commission created to monitor 
compliance with the Tegucigalpa/San Jose Agreement. 
 
 
4.(U) CARICOM:  With the approach of the Copenhagen 
Conference, climate change headed the agenda of many 
delegations at the UNGA but none more consistently than that 
of members of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). As the Chair 
of the Association of Small Island States (AOSIS), the Perm 
Rep of Grenada, Dessima Williams, had an important role in 
articulating that group's joint position at the Conference. 
Climate change was also a central theme of the group's 
November 5 meeting with Ambassador Rice.  In the absence of 
Ambassador Williams, Saint Lucia's Perm Rep led the 
discussion.  CARICOM Perm Reps also briefed her on the small 
arms trafficking problem in the Caribbean.  Ambassador Rice 
pointed out that as part of our effort to engage on a broad 
range of issues at the United Nations we had agreed to join 
consensus to begin negotiations on a Small Arms Treaty. The 
third item on their agenda was the "Economic Crisis."  The 
Perm Rep of Barbados called for radical reform of the Bretton 
Woods institutions, i.e. an expanded role for developing 
countries,  a familiar G-77 theme. Finally, the Jamaican 
briefed the Ambassador on the status of the CARICOM project 
to create a permanent memorial to the victims of slavery at 
UN headquarters. A key CARICOM initiative for several years 
now, the Caribbeans are getting serious about fund raising 
for the project and are hopefully looking to the USG for a 
contribution. 
 
5.(U) CUBAN EMBARGO:  In the General Assembly's annual 
consideration of the Cuban resolution condemning the embargo, 
Ambassador Rice delivered the U.S. statement emphasizing the 
human rights situation in Cuba and the lack of a Cuban 
response to our easing certain restrictions. With typical 
hyperbole, the Cuban Foreign Minster called the embargo 
 
"genocidal."  While many countries commended the U.S. for its 
recent measures, the vote was as usual a landslide in favor 
of the Cuban resolution: 187-3(US)-2.  Equally predictable 
was the applause that greeted the vote. (REF B) It is 
noteworthy, however, that another Cuban resolution focused in 
a more generic fashion on the same issue -- unilateral 
economic sanctions -- was approved in Second Committee by a 
much less impressive margin. That resolution condemns such 
sanctions but as in past years, our closest allies, the EU 
and others, abstained on it.  This year the vote was 
(108-2(US)-53). In explanation of vote for the EU, Sweden 
stated that such measures were admissible in fighting 
terrorism and upholding democracy and human rights. (As in 
the past, a similar EU statement was also made after the 
embargo vote.)  The voting pattern in Second Committee offers 
hope for rebuilding the coalition supporting improved human 
rights practices in Cuba if we can somehow address the 
extraterritorial aspects of our sanctions regime that our 
allies find so unpalatable. 
 
6.(U) HUMAN RIGHTS RESOLUTIONS: WHA votes were again crucial 
to achieving our goals on human rights in Third Committee. 
This year there were no "no action" motions to confuse things 
in Committee consideration of the specific country human 
rights resolutions on Iran, Burma and North Korea.  There 
were eleven WHA delegations that voted for all three 
resolutions; fourteen abstained on all three (11 Caribbeans, 
Brazil, Bolivia, and Colombia). Only two voted against all 
three resolutions: Cuba and Venezuela. Nicaragua voted 
against the Iran and Burma resolutions but abstained on the 
North Korea resolution.  Ecuador abstained on Burma and North 
Korea but voted against the Iran resolution.  Jamaica and 
Guyana also split their votes.  Jamaica voted for the Burma 
and North Korea resolutions but abstained on Iran.  Guyana 
voted for the Burma resolution but abstained on the other 
two.  Overall, we marginally improved the region's support on 
these key votes compared to last year. 
 
¶7. (SBU) DEFAMATION OF RELIGIONS AND ANTI-ISRAELI 
RESOLUTIONS:  Another priority vote was the OIC's Defamation 
of Religions resolution.  Last year only Canada and the U.S. 
voted against this problematic resolution.  This year in 
Third Committee Chile, Mexico, Panama and Uruguay joined 
Canada and the U.S. in voting "no."  The final tally was 
81-55(US)-43 abstentions.  Twelve WHA delegations voted for 
the resolution while fourteen abstained. Three Caribbean 
delegations absented themselves from the vote.  Sentiment is 
definitely running against this resolution in the Western 
Hemisphere, and it may well be possible to enlist even more 
regional support in future. WHA posts' assistance was also 
requested on short notice for the vote in the GA plenary on 
the "Goldstone Report" (SECSTATE 112828). We had limited 
traction in the region.  Only two WHA delegations voted with 
us against the resolution: Canada and Panama.  Three 
abstained Costa Rica, Colombia and Uruguay. In addition, two 
friendly delegations stayed away from the vote: St. Kitts and 
Nevis and Honduras.  On other anti-Israeli resolutions in 
support of the Palestinians, we generally held the few WHA 
votes and abstentions we had in the past. Notably, the 
Panamanians have been considerably more active in voting with 
us on these resolutions. The Israeli Resolution on 
Agricultural Technology in Development provided a good 
example of ALBA voting trends. This constructive, innocuous 
resolution is only the second in history run by the Israeli 
delegation at the UN. When it was first presented in 2007, 
 
every WHA delegation voted for it except Cuba which was 
absent for the vote; OIC members abstained.  This year all 
WHA delegations again voted for the Israeli resolution except 
five; Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Suriname (an 
OIC member) abstained along with the OIC members. (Ecuador 
absented itself from the vote.) Concurrently, Venezuela has 
been using extreme rhetoric in its characterization of 
Israel, even referring to it as "genocidal." In many cases, 
they are more extreme than the Palestinians themselves. 
 
 
¶8. (SBU) ROLE OF THE ALBA GROUP:  In general, we have 
witnessed in New York an increase in the anti-American 
rhetoric by Venezuela and other ALBA members similar to that 
reported in CARACAS 1420.  At every opportunity, the BRV 
delegation has attacked the U.S.  A recurring theme is the 
alleged "seven U.S. bases in Colombia." Chavez himself made 
much of it in the General Debate. In a Third Committee 
discussion of indigenous rights , the Venezuelan delegate 
even found negative implications from the "bases" for 
indigenous peoples. More directly, the Venezuelan Perm Rep 
sent a detailed presentation to the Security Council and held 
a press conference on the subject on November 25. President 
Evo Morales similarly attacked the "U.S. bases" in his 
General Debate comments, The Nicaraguans have been loyal 
acolytes in echoing these attacks, and adding a few of their 
own.  In the General Debate, Foreign Minister Santos of 
Nicaragua embraced the cause of Puerto Rican independence. 
 
¶9. (SBU) For their part, the Cubans have chimed in on the 
"bases" theme and they have also stepped up the "fuss" in New 
York over the "Cuban five." (HAVANA 732) Cuban Vice Minister 
Rodriguez Parrilla set the tone in his General Debate speech 
calling for the release of the "five Cuban anti-terrorism" 
fighters. The Cuban Perm Rep followed through in the debate 
on terrorism in the Security Council. Here too the 
Nicaraguans loyally join the chorus. General Assembly 
President Miguel D'Escoto in his farewell address pointed to 
the "serious threat" from the U.S. bases in Colombia and 
called for the release of the Cuban "heroes." (REF D) In 
turn, the core ALBA group seems to be coalescing around more 
extreme positions in other areas.  On Israeli/Palestine 
issues, as noted above, they have become outspoken critics of 
Israel.  ALBA countries also launched a concerted attempt to 
sabotage the Legal Empowerment of the Poor resolution in 
Second Committee, an initiative strongly supported by the 
U.S. A consensus resolution was finally approved after Brazil 
and other WHA delegations weighed in to help turn back the 
hostile ALBA amendments. On the U.S. sponsored Elections 
Resolution in Third Committee which had over a hundred 
co-sponsors, ALBA delegations (Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, 
Nicaragua, Ecuador) voted for Russia's hostile amendment to 
eliminate mention of guidelines developed by a NGO for 
election observation -- the ALBA group was five of only 
nineteen votes for the amendment. 
 
¶10. (SBU) GRULAC: WHA Perm Reps emphasize that the deeply 
divided GRULAC regional caucus addresses only UN elections, 
Even with that limited agenda we are told that GRULAC 
meetings are unhappy assemblies. The Venezuelans and 
Nicaraguans are constantly stirring up regional discord. That 
said, Brazil was unanimously backed by the GRULAC in the UNGA 
vote to replace Costa Rica for one of the region's two 
temporary seats in the UN Security Council.  Next year 
Colombia is the only declared GRULAC candidate to replace 
 
Mexico for the region's second seat. There was some 
speculation that Nicaragua might launch a challenge but at 
this point it appears Colombia will be proposed as the GRULAC 
consensus candidate.  In two other areas, however, the GRULAC 
was unable to reach consensus.  A seat traditionally held by 
a CARICOM member on the Advisory Committee on Administrative 
and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) was contested in Fifth 
Committee by Jamaica and Haiti.  It is unusual for CARICOM to 
be unable to manage such disputes within the group. The 
incumbent, Jamaica, won handily.  Jamaica is also a candidate 
for a third term on the Peace Building Commission.  Peru, 
which has never served on the PBC, is running an active 
campaign to unseat the Jamaicans. 
 
11.(C) SECURITY COUNCIL:  Temporary Security Council members 
Costa Rica and Mexico have worked well with USUN.  Both, 
especially the Costa Ricans, have been active in factoring 
human rights considerations into UNSC activities.  They have 
both been helpful on major peace and security issues.  The 
Costa Ricans, founding members of the S-5 group of small 
member states favoring reform of UNSC working methods, admit 
after serving on the Council that they have a greater 
appreciation of the constraints on being more inclusive in 
the decision-making process.  When it replaces Costa Rica, 
Brazil will undoubtedly have a different agenda.  It will be 
looking to use its tenure to strengthen support among the 
broader UN membership for realizing its long-standing 
ambition to become a permanent member. At the UNGA, Brazil 
has significant influence and can exert strong leadership in 
producing reasonable outcomes. In the recent Second Committee 
negotiations on the International Financial System and 
Development resolution, the Brazilians were helpful in 
beating back hostile ALBA amendments. Similarly, they played 
a helpful role in reaching consensus on the Legal Empowerment 
of the Poor resolution. On the other hand, their repeated 
refusal to support specific country human rights resolutions 
and to oppose the Defamation of Religions resolution in Third 
Committee has been disappointing. In the General Assembly, 
Brazil will more often than not abstain on controversial 
issues. 
 
12.(C) NOTES ON DELEGATIONS: The recently arrived Ecuadoran 
Perm Rep, like his predecessor, is a former Foreign Minister, 
and will, hopefully like her show some independence from the 
ALBA line. The new Bolivian Charge Pablo Solon Romero is 
reportedly close to President Morales.  He was approachable 
and encouraging on human rights issues.  The Bolivian 
delegation finally abstained on all three of the specific 
country resolutions; the best we could expect. Chilean Perm 
Rep Heraldo Munoz, long one of the most prominent Latin 
American diplomats at the UN, will, if elections back home 
turn out as most pundits predict, be replaced next year. 
Jorge Urbina of Costa Rica emerges from his experience in the 
UNSC as a more seasoned statesman and if as expected he is 
asked to stay on after Costa Rican elections he will be 
looking for a new role at the UN. 
 
13.(U) SPIRIT OF the 64th:  There was a definite change in 
receptivity for U.S. views in the 64th Session of the UNGA. 
The President's General Debate speech set the tone, and as he 
promised was followed by greater willingness by the U.S. 
delegation to engage with other member states on a variety of 
issues.  For instance, we had long been isolated in voting 
against the Right to Food, a Cuban resolution, and the Rights 
of the Child Resolution, with which Uruguay has always been 
 
closely associated.  At two different sessions, when the U.S. 
joined consensus on these resolutions, the Third Committee 
erupted into spontaneous applause.   In other committees, 
there were similar dramatic changes in the U.S. approach. 
(REF E) 
 
14.(C) COMMENT: Despite the increasingly confrontational 
approach of ALBA members, the WHA regional group has 
responded well to U.S. initiatives.  The coalition of WHA 
member states on human rights seems more consolidated, and we 
were even able to elicit some stray abstention votes from the 
ALBA group. WHA delegations warmly welcomed the U.S. approach 
of engaging on many issues on which it had previously been 
isolated. Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua have aligned 
themselves with the most radical states in the UN,  The three 
of them have become among the most vociferous anti-American 
delegations in the organization. Bolivia and Ecuador are 
taking many radical positions, but are still not in lock-step 
with the other three. As good will from our new approach to 
multilateral diplomacy fades, the Cuban embargo will be one 
of those issues exploited by our critics.  Meanwhile, next 
year in the UNSC, Brazil will at times likely be a difficult 
partner. 
 
 
 
RICE