US embassy cable - 05BRASILIA1466

CHAVEZ'S ACTIVITIES IN THE HEMISPHERE - BRAZIL

Identifier: 05BRASILIA1466
Wikileaks: View 05BRASILIA1466 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Brasilia
Created: 2005-05-31 18:17:00
Classification: SECRET
Tags: PREL PGOV PTER BR VZ External Relations
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 BRASILIA 001466 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/27/2015 
TAGS: PREL, PGOV, PTER, BR, VZ, External Relations 
SUBJECT: CHAVEZ'S ACTIVITIES IN THE HEMISPHERE - BRAZIL 
 
REF: A. STATE 43965 
     B. BRASILIA 1207 
     C. BRASILIA 1035 
     D. BRASILIA 1017 
     E. BRASILIA 660 
     F. BRASILIA 415 
     G. BRASILIA 223 
     H. USDEL SECRETARY TELEGRAMS 000005/000007/00004 
     I. (S/NF) TD-314/21795-05 11 APRIL 2005 
     J. (S/NF) TD-314/21753-05 11 APRIL2005. 
 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN DANILOVICH. REASON: 1.5 (B)(D) 
 
1. (S)  Ref A requested Mission's assessment of the extent 
and nature of possible Venezuelan Goverment (GOV) and/or 
"Bolivarian" activities in Brazil, GOB views of same and of 
Chavez's regime in general.  Refs B-H provided extensive 
information on GOB political views on Chavez, with reporting 
on various meetings between President Lula da Silva, FM 
Amorim, Presidential Chief of Staff Dirceu and others in the 
GOB with senior U.S. officials, including Secretary Rice 
during her recent visit here.  Ref I-J provide additional 
insights on GOB assessments of Chavez.  Those reports taken 
together constitute our current response to reftel A's 
question number four regarding Brazilian government attitudes 
toward Chavez and the Bolivarian revolution.  Below we 
provide responses to other specific questions posed to post 
by ref A regarding Venezuela and Brazil.  We have omitted 
responses to ref a questions for which we have no significant 
data to offer. 
 
WHAT ARE GOV TIES TO RADICAL GROUPS, ANTI-SYSTEMIC PARTIES, 
EXTREME LEFTIST ORGANIZATIONS, AND/OR TERRORISTS, ETC? 
 
2. (S/NF)  According to sensitive reporting in late 2001, a 
group of state-level officials from the Brazilian Workers, 
Party (PT) formally organized the &Simon Bolivar Action 
Group8.  According to the charter, one of the goals of the 
group was to unite efforts of the masses within Brazil and 
the initiatives of the PT with other class struggles on the 
continent.  The charter mentioned the Cuban revolution and 
Venezuela's Bolivarian revolution.  At this time, no further 
information is available on this initiative. 
 
3. (S/NF) According to sensitive reporting from October 2003, 
members of Brazil's main landless movement organization, the 
MST, traveled to Venezuela, allegedly without the knowledge 
of the Brazilian government, where they reportedly met with 
Venezuelan President Chavez and also with indigenous groups 
and farmers.  In addition, prior to his departure from Brazil 
in November 2003, former Venezuelan Ambassador to Brazil 
Vladimir Villegas routinely traveled throughout Brazil and 
may have been responsible for coordinating GOV outreach 
efforts to the MST.  There is also sensitive reporting 
indicating that, from May-June 2003, Ambassador Villegas met 
with PT and MST officials outside of Brasilia. During these 
meetings, Villegas, discussions centered on explaining and 
trying to build support for Venezuela's Bolivarian movement. 
Villegas replaced General (r) Alberto Esqueda Torres as 
ambassador to Brazil reportedly because Esqueda was 
&passive8 on defending Chavez,s Bolivarian revolution and 
had not worked hard enough to establish better ties with the 
PT. 
 
ARE THERE ACTIVITIES IN BRAZIL HOSTED BY BOLIVARIAN GROUPS 
AND/OR THE VENEZUELAN EMBASSY? 
 
4. (S/NF) In March 2005, the University of Sao Paulo hosted a 
conference entitled, &The revolution not seen on 
television8; where the featured guest was the Venezuelan 
Consul General in Sao Paulo, Jose Luis Duran.  The event was 
reportedly part of the Venezuelan Cultural and Social 
Outreach Program to spread the word of the Bolivarian 
revolution.  Participating in the conference was a group 
calling itself the &Bolivarian Circle of Sao Paulo8.  The 
goals of the group are not known.  Also unknown is the level, 
if any, of Venezuelan government support for the group. 
 
WHAT IS THE HOST GOVERNMENT'S REACTION TO THE PRESENCE OF 
BOLIVARIAN GROUPS? 
 
5. (SBU) To our knowledge, the GOB has not commented publicly 
on the possible presence of such groups within Brazil. 
However, senior GOB officials have stated recently and 
publicly that "Brazil is not a Bolivarian country."   Indeed, 
the lack of a major Brazilian historical connection to the 
Bolivarian movement and a rather thorough ignorance about and 
lack of interest in Bolivar among Brazil's general public 
suggest little traction within Brazil for Chavez's efforts to 
appropriate the historical figure or contort his principles 
to fit Chavez's ends.   Brazil's radical movements, including 
the MST landless organization and others, are essentially 
homegrown.  Mainstream media attitudes toward the "Bolivarian 
revolution" are often skeptical, per additional information 
on media perspectives below. 
 
WHAT ARE BRAZIL'S COMMERCIAL TIES WITH VENEZUELA AND ANY NEW 
BUSINESS OR TRADE AGREEMENTS IN THE WORKS,  ESPECIALLY IN 
ENERGY AND MILITARY SECTORS? 
 
6. (SBU) Per refs B-H,  the GOB views commercial relations, 
political engagement and pursuit of integration projects with 
Venezuela as useful in pressing Chavez to moderate his 
rhetoric and behave more constructively.  There has been 
discussion at several levels of various regional 
infrastructure projects, in civil construction, 
transportation, mining, and in the energy sector.  The GOV is 
also reportedly considering purchase of Brazilian Embraer AMX 
attack jets and Super Tucano turboprop attack/training 
aircraft, but it is not clear that contracts have been signed 
as of this date. 
 
7. (SBU)  During President Lula,s trip to Venezuela in 
February, Brazil,s parastatal oil company Petrobras signed 
14 accords with PDVSA to increase joint cooperation in the 
areas of exploration, refining, petrochemicals, ethanol and 
biodiesel.  The highlight was a joint venture to construct a 
new USD 2.5 billion refinery in the Northeast of Brazil. 
While the refinery may be the crown jewel of the Lula visit, 
some question its strategic value to Petrobras.  The refinery 
deal appears to be a trade off;  Petrobras would expand its 
exploration and production activities in Venezuela 
(particularly in the Orinoco area) in return for allowing 
PDVSA entry into the Brazilian market.  PDVSA and Petrobras 
also reportedly intend to construct a USD 20 million 
lubricant factory in Cuba, and Brazilian petrochemical 
conglomerate &Braskem8 and PDVSA subsidiary Pequiven are 
evaluating opportunities in thermoplastic resins. 
 
HOW DOES THE MAINTSTREAM MEDIA -- MAJOR DAILIES ON BOTH LEFT 
AND RIGHT -- VIEW CHAVEZ AND HIS ROLE IN THE REGION? 
 
8. (SBU) The Brazilian media,s take on President Chavez 
depends largely on the political inclination of the 
publications and of the individual pundits. Conservative 
newspapers such as "O Estado de Sao Paulo" have repeatedly 
issued warnings about the danger Chavez represents to 
democratic institutions and to economic prospects in 
Venezuela and throughout the region.  In an op-ed dated March 
27, published just after Chavez implemented yet another set 
of laws curtailing civil liberties, "O Estado" wrote that: 
&Hugo Chavez has once more demonstrated what the so-called 
 progressive, leaders are capable of when it comes to 
asphyxiating fundamental liberties. The new laws punish those 
who stage marches and public protests, and restrict the right 
of opinion and freedom of the press by threatening whoever 
criticizes the government along with the newspapers that 
publish such criticism. Chavez is keeping up with an old 
tradition of Latin America's dictators. If (President) Lula 
wants to enter into history and honor his oath of protecting 
the constitution, he must not allow any parallelism between 
his administration and Venezuela's.8 
 
9. (SBU) Commentators with leftist tendencies are usually 
more accepting of Chavez, who some see as a counterweight to 
alleged U.S. attempts at regional dominance, but most 
left-leaning mainstream pundits do not condone his checks on 
civil liberties. Writer and columnist Carlos Heitor Cony 
opined in liberal "Folha de Sao Paulo" on May 5: 
&Venezuela's case has all the elements to repeat what 
happened in Iraq, unless the State Department succeeds in 
deposing Chavez without resorting to bombing Caracas on 
behalf of democracy..... Supporting Chavez in his resistance 
against the U.S. drive to control one of the largest oil 
reserves in the world does not mean supporting a president 
accused of so much wrongdoing...." Coverage of Chavez in 
Brazil is limited by the fact that Buenos Aires is the only 
Latin American capital where Brazilian newspapers maintain 
correspondents. Chavez gets more attention from the Brazilian 
media either when he travels to Brazil, or when President 
Lula goes to Venezuela. 
 
10. (SBU) During a working lunch with PA officers, Claudia 
Dianni, a reporter with leading circulation daily, "Folha de 
Sao Paulo" and Andre Soliani, a deputy editor with political 
and economic analysis magazine "Primeira Leiture," both 
remarked that Chavez might have inherited some of the 
&romantic8 imagery usually associated by the Latin American 
left with Fidel Castro as a champion of Latin America against 
the oppression from capitalism and the United States. This 
perception coexists with the understanding that Chavez,s 
efforts to limit civil liberties are highly objectionable. 
 
WHAT ARE BRAZIL'S VISA AND IMMIGRATION REQUIREMENTS FOR 
VENEZUELAN PASSPORT HOLDERS? 
 
11. (U) Brazil does not require visas for Venezuelans 
visiting Brazil. 
 
ARE THERE BORDER SECURITY ARRANGEMENTS IN PLACE OR PLANNED 
FOR THE VENEZUELAN BORDER? 
 
12. (SBU) At present, there is no comprehensive system or 
plan for border security posts on the frontier with 
Venezuela.  Brazilian military and Federal Police units are 
stationed throughout the Amazon frontier areas with Venezuela 
and Colombia, but they are relatively few in number 
considering the vast size of the territory, much of it 
covered by triple-canopy jungle that makes patrol and 
surveillance extremely difficult.  Brazil's Amazon 
Surveillance System (SIVAM), a USD 1.6 billion dollar network 
of radars, electronic sensors and airborne surveillance 
platforms provides a sophisticated degree of aerial coverage, 
at least at high altitudes, but ground and riverine coverage 
is much sparser and more sporadic.  The GOB and GOV have had 
numerous discussions on enhanced border security cooperation, 
both bilaterally and in conjunction with Colombia and Peru 
(NFI). 
 
WHAT IS THE STATUS OF EXISTING OR PLANNED MILITARY-MILITARY 
COOPERATION WITH THE GOV? 
 
13. (SBU) The Brazilian and Venezuelan navies normally 
conduct an annual joint exercise, VENEBRAS, but DAO Brasilia 
has not been able to confirm whether this will proceed in 
2005.   We have no other information at this time on joint 
exercises. 
 
 
DANILOVICH 

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