Monday, 13 December 2010






E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/12/2016


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¶1. Actions requested - see para 12.


¶2. (C) Brazilian Ambassador Joao Carlos da Sousa Gomes,
acting on instructions, proposed that we trade licensing for
U.S. components in the Tucano aircraft for Brazilian support
for Sumate with the BRV. That sounds like a bad trade to us,
but we asked whether GOB would be willing to discuss help
regarding the BRV's push for a non-permanent UNSC seat. Da
Sousa Gomes said the Bolivarians were unhappy with Brazilian
FM Amorim's criticism of the BRV role in the nationalization
of the Bolivian hydrocarbon industry, resulting in a call
from a nervous FM Rodriguez demanding a "retraction." The
Brazilian made clear that despite this rough patch, Brasilia
had a lasting interest in maintaining good relations with
Caracas. Da Sousa Gomes, in the mood to chat, also shared
the details of a "chilling" conversation he had had with
Iranian Ambassador Sobhani, who was apparently unconcerned
about the prospects of a broader conflict over the nuclear
impasse. Finally, da Sousa Gomes told us of a recent talk
with Cuban Ambassador Sanchez, who attacked Sumate and
related details of the carnal activities of fellow
ambassadors. We leave to the Department whether to consider
an approach on the UNSC, as well as whether to offer the GOB
a briefing on Iranian support for terrorism in the
hemisphere. End summary.

Tucanos for Sumate

¶3. (C) Ambassador and DCM met with Brazilian Ambassador
Joao Carlos da Sousa Gomes on May 10 at his request to
discuss a number of issues. Da Sousa Gomes was principally
interested in proposing a "deal" to permit licensing of U.S.
components of Tucano aircraft to Venezuela. Stating that his
message came direct from Brazilian FM Amorim, he said that
Brazil was still deeply interested in selling the Tucanos to
the BRV. He argued that permitting the sale would give the
GOB the ability to influence the BRV; taken the other way,
the inability to complete the sale undercut Brazil's
moderating influence in Caracas. Admitting that this was a
"difficult issue for USG," da Sousa Gomes said he was
authorized to propose a trade: the United States gives on
the Tucanos, and GOB takes a more proactive stance with the
BRV on Sumate. Da Sousa Gomes said this help would be
particularly useful now, because he believed another BRV
assault on Sumate was likely in the near future.

¶4. (C) The Ambassador replied that he could not speak to
the Tucanos; that was a decision made in Washington. Having
said that, he noted the proposed Brazilian action on Sumate
was symbolic, whereas the Tucanos were real. It would be
difficult to sell such a linkage to Washington. On the other
hand, there was one very concrete issue that Brazil could be
helpful on: Venezuela's bid for a non-permanent seat on the
UNSC. While he emphasized he was not speaking on
instructions, the Ambassador said that such a linkage would
be more concrete and, therefore, perhaps compelling to the
USG. Da Sousa Gomes was skeptical, noting that the BRV's
early commitment to permanent seat for Brazil on UNSC made it

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difficult for the GOB to fail to back the BRV for a temporary

¶5. (C) The Ambassador delved further. GRULAC is obviously
split over the issue of its candidate for the nonpermanent
seat. If pushed by a large, influential nation interested in
ensuring consensus, the GRULAC might find a candidate other
than Venezuela who might receive consensus support. He
concluded this part of the discussion by indicating that he
doubted that Washington would reopen Tucano decision, but
might be more inclined to do so if it were part of a package
to solve our mutual problem of the BRV's candidacy for a
non-permanent UNSC seat.

Brazilian Push-back Touches Bolivarian Nerve

¶6. (C) We began the conversation discussing the news of the
day, FM Amorim's strong push-back against the BRV for its
role in the nationalization of the Bolivian gas industry. Da
Sousa Gomes made a number of observations about the GOB's
views that were identical to those already reported by
Embassy Brasilia (refs). He took credit for the idea of
Amorim's strong words, saying he'd argued that the BRV
respected a government that stood up for itself. That said,
da Sousa Gomes said that Brasilia had no interest in
provoking a further crisis over this matter. Venezuela was a
neighbor, and they needed to find ways to get along.

¶7. (C) The Brazilian ambassador said that the BRV was
stirred up by Amorim's words. BRV FM Ali Rodriguez called
him even before Amorim had finished speaking to demand a
"retraction." da Sousa Gomes told him that was impossible,
so a flustered Rodriguez insisted on speaking with Amorim
directly, to make the same points. He got no satisfaction in
that call. According to da Sousa Gomes, President Chavez
himself called Brasilia, seeking to speak with President
Lula, but Lula did not take the call. (Note: Both
presidents will be at the EU-Latin America summit, so Chavez
will doubtless corner Lula, there if not before.)


¶8. (C) da Sousa Gomes then turned to a recent conversation
he had with Iranian Ambassador Ahmad Sobhani. According to
da Sousa Gomes, Sobhani told him that there was a great deal
of misinformation about Iran's activities in Venezuela.
There was no collaboration on nuclear matters, and Sobhani
derided Venezuela's tiny nuclear research program as
unserious. Sobhani said that the stories about a uranium
mining operation were also untrue. When the Brazilian
queried about the impasse in the IAEA and now the UN on the
Iranian nuclear program, Sobhani said that Iran had a problem
with the United States and "all of Europe" on this issue, and
would not back down. The ability to run its own peaceful
nuclear program was a point of principle for Iran. Da Sousa
Gomes said that he came away from the conversation chilled by
the Iranian's unconcern over the prospect that his
government's actions might provoke a broader conflict. The
Brazilian offered to give us a written summary of his report
to Brasilia for our information.

¶9. (C) The Ambassador was grateful for the information, and
underlined our strong concerns about Iran-Venezuela links.
Our concerns focused in three separate areas. First, on the
nuclear front, for reasons well known to all. Second, the

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United States is increasingly concerned that Iranian
know-how, both technical and in terms of avoiding U.S.
prohibitions on the sale of military parts to Iran, would
help the BRV evade any limitations on the sale of military
parts to the BRV. Finally, and most importantly, we are
concerned about terrorism. Iran has a well-known link with
Hezbollah, a deadly terrorist organization. The Iranian
government has pledged to attack the U.S. homeland if
attacked. We are worried that an Iranian-supported Hezbollah
or other terrorist presence in Venezuela could represent a
threat to the United States. Da Sousa Gomes clearly had not
thought this last issue through, and asked if we could
provide additional information. The Ambassador agreed to
look into the matter, noting that obviously any such
discussions would occur in Brasilia or Washington.


¶10. (C) Finally, the chatty da Sousa Gomes gave us his
readout on a recent lunch with Cuban Ambassador German
Sanchez Otero. (Note: Da Sousa Gomes said that he could
attest to the long-serving (over 11 years in Caracas)
Sanchez' close ties to Cuban dictator Fidel Castro; the old
rascal called Sanchez three times during the course of the
lunch!) According to da Sousa Gomes, Sanchez is totally
plugged in to the Bolivarian government, relating in a
detailed fashion the inner workings of various ministries.
Sanchez also eagerly discussed Venezuelan internal political
developments, focusing of course on the upcoming presidential
elections. Sanchez had nice things to say about left-wing
candidate Teodoro Petkoff, at least at a personal level; da
Sousa Gomes noted that he's heard similar expressions of
personal affection for Petkoff from Bolivarian officials.

¶11. (C) da Sousa Gomes was particularly struck by two
elements of his conversation with Sanchez: first, a deep
hatred for Sumate, which Sanchez claimed was a subversive
organization funded by the CIA which had to be stopped. (da
Sousa Gomes' earlier warning that the BRV might have planned
a fresh assault on Sumate (para 3) may have in part been
informed by Sanchez harsh words for the NGO). Second,
Sanchez delighted in relating the prurient details of the
personal lives of other ambassadors accredited here. Da
Sousa Gomes added that he believed that some ambassadors
actually submitted written reports to the BRV on the
peccadilloes of their fellow ambassadors.

¶12. (C) Actions requested:

-- Tucano trade: We oppose reconsidering the Tucano decision
for a promise to be proactive on Sumate. It is the
Department's call whether to pursue a possible Tucano-UNSC

-- Briefing to the GOB on Iran: da Sousa Gomes seemed
genuinely taken aback by the notion that an Iranian
diplomatic presence might support Hezbollah or another FTO in
the Western Hemisphere. Washington and Embassy Brasilia may
want to consider a detailed briefing on this matter to
relevant GOB officials.


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