10MEXICO141 Mexico’s Latin American Unity Summit

Posted: December 4, 2010 in News
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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
10MEXICO141 2010-02-26 19:07 2010-12-02 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN Embassy Mexico


VZCZCXRO4692
RR RUEHAG RUEHAO RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR RUEHTRO
DE RUEHME #0141/01 0571923
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 261923Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY MEXICO
TO WESTERN HEMISPHERIC AFFAIRS DIPL POSTS
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0719
INFO ALL US CONSULATES IN MEXICO COLLECTIVE
EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE
UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/CDR USNORTHCOM PETERSON AFB CO
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0012

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MEXICO 000141 

SIPDIS 
NOFORN 
DEPARTMENT FOR WHA DAS JACOBSON, MEX LEE AND PPC NSC FOR RESTREPO AND O’REILLY 
AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PASS TO AMCONSUL RECIFE 
AMEMBASSY OTTAWA PASS TO AMCONSUL QUEBEC 
AMEMBASSY BRIDGETOWN PASS TO AMEMBASSY GRENADA 
AMEMBASSY ATHENS PASS TO AMCONSUL THESSALONIKI 
AMEMBASSY BERLIN PASS TO AMCONSUL DUSSELDORF 
AMEMBASSY BERLIN PASS TO AMCONSUL LEIPZIG 
EO 12958 DECL: 2020/02/26 
TAGS PREL, OAS, KSUM, KPIN, CACM, CDB, XM, XR, XS, XL, MX 

SUBJECT: Mexico’s Latin American Unity Summit -- Back to the Future? 
REF: 10 MEXICO 127; 10 SANTIAGO 51; 10 SANTO DOMINGO 67
DERIVED FROM: DSCG 05-1 B, D

1. (C) Summary: Mexico’s ambitious plan to use its final Rio Group Presidency Summit
(Cancun 22-23 February) to create a new more operational forum for regional cooperation failed 
dramatically. The two-day event was dominated by press accounts of ALBA country theatrics and their usual
 proclivity towards third world, anti-imperialist rhetoric. Nothing practical was achieved on the two 
pressing regional priorities - Haiti (President Preval did attend but the discussion was an obscured 
footnote) and Honduras (Pres. Lobo was not even invited in deference to Venezuela/ALBA) - and Brazil and 
the ALBA countries outmaneuvered the Mexicans, leaving the details of the new organization in the hands 
of a Latin American and Caribbean Summit (CALC) structure that will be managed by Brazil and Venezuela in
2011. End Summary
2. (C) Notwithstanding President Calderon’s best intentions to create a more practical regional forum 
for regionally dealing with Latin American priorities (ref A), Mexico’s Latin American Unity summit in 
the tourist resort of Cancun (22-23 February) was poorly conceived, inadequately managed, and badly 
executed. The Cancun Declaration presents a long laundry list of issues without specifying any details 
on how they will be operationally translated into effective international action. The meeting did not 
agree on a name for the new organization (see below), on a date for when it will be launched, or on any 
practical details (secretariat, funding, etc.) that would indicate how the new organization would develop. 
Worse yet was the press play and unofficial commentary from informed sources, that were downright derisive
 of the meeting and the contradictory message it sent about Mexico’s interests and foreign policy.

3. (C) Already at the ceremonial opening on Monday (22 February) it was clear that things were not 
going well. Negotiations on the declaration had ground down on the operational details of the communique 
and Brazil and the ALBA countries were firmly resisting Mexico’s proposal that the new forum be 
constituted immediately with agreement on institutional details. Brazilian President Lula did not want 
to see the CALC be subsumed before the end of his Presidency and Venezuelan President Chavez wanted to 
leave his CALC Summit (Venezuela assumes the CALC Presidency from Brazil in 2011) on schedule, and 
available for a grand launching of the new forum that, as he said to the press, would commemorate the 
realization of the Bolivarian themes of Latin American solidarity in the birthplace of the “Great 
Liberator.” Chavez was his usual, over the top self in proclaiming the death of the Organization of 
American States (OAS), in lending a hand to Argentine President Kirchner’s protest against British 
drilling for oil in the Malvinas, and in almost coming to blows with Colombian President Uribe over the 
latter’s protest of Venezuela’s economic embargo against Colombia. Bolivian President Morales played the 
supporting role as Chavez’ factotum, parroting Chavez’ speeches and lavishing praise and compliments on 
Raul Castro’s Cuba. Ecuadorian President Correa used the meeting to try and divert money laundering 
allegations leveled against Ecuador, by suggesting the need for a new “more balanced” regional mechanism 
to address the issue.

4. (C) Even Calderon’s own PAN party officials were privately dismissive of the event. PAN international
affairs coordinator Rodrigo Cortez characterized the meeting as a “sad spectacle that does nothing to 
project our party’s views on international priorities and the importance of the relationship between 
Mexico and the United States.” He decried the public images of Calderon “hugging and cavorting” with 
Chavez, Morales and Castro and was pessimistic from the start that anything practical would come from 
the meeting. “We did not even invite Honduras, leaving them out of the meeting in order to ensure ALBA 
participation - a decision that turned the meeting upside down with regard to our concrete security and 
other interests.”
MEXICO 00000141 002 OF 003

5. (C) The low point of the meeting was the verbal exchange between Uribe and Chavez at the opening day 
official lunch. Uribe raised Venezuela’s economic embargo on Colombia, terming it unhelpful and 
inconsistent with the region’s economic interest and at odds with Venezuela’s strong criticism of the 
U.S. Embargo on Cuba. Colombia’s Ambassador in Mexico, Luis Camilo Osorio, told the polmincouns that, 
contrary to press accounts, Uribe raised the issue in a non-confrontational way. According to Osorio and 
press accounts, Chavez reacted emotionally accusing Colombia of having sent assassination squads to kill 
him and ended a verbal and physical tirade with “You can go to hell; I am leaving (the lunch).” Uribe 
responded, “Don’t be a coward and leave just to insult me from a distance.” Verbal and body language 
continued to escalate, until Raul Castro stepped in to urge civilized discussion. Outside of the dining 
room, Venezuelan security officials were scuffling with Mexican security guards in an attempt to assist 
their President.

6. (C) Osorio was very critical of the Summit, terming it the worst expression of Banana Republic 
discourse that blames all of the regions problems on others without any practical solutions of their own.
Osorio said the Colombians had proposed working jointly on a concrete agenda during Calderon’s recent 
visit to Colombia. The Mexicans, he said, were not interested, confident that they had everything under 
control. Osorio opined that “Calderon had simply put a bunch of the worst types together in a room, 
expecting to outsmart them. Instead, Brazil outplayed him completely, and Venezuela outplayed Brazil.” 
There was no practical planning, there was no management of the agenda, and there was none of the legwork
 that would have been needed to yield a practical and useful outcome.

7. (C) Brazilian DCM Antonio Francisco Da Costa E Silva Neto conveyed his country’s view that Brazil 
had done a better job of managing the summit than the Mexican hosts. Brazil was able to ensure that the 
new Rio Group would emerge, not from the Summit, but from ongoing discussions in the Rio Group and the 
CALC, where Brazil could exert its influence. The CALC survived and Brazil would be managing that process
 as part of the troika when it turned over the presidency to Venezuela.

8. (C) We heard similar themes from ex-Ambassador Jorge Montano, a PRI-connected, former respected 
senior Mexican diplomat. He echoed Cortez’ criticism, channeling it into an elegant but critical op-ed 
in Mexico daily Universal (Feb 26). Montano’s piece, entitled “With or Without the OAS,” reviewed briefly
 the history of Latin American regional forums, also criticizing U.S. lack of attention to the region 
(e.g. Summit of Americas) but noting the practical achievements realized in the OAS. He called the 
Summit unnecessary and inconsistent with Mexico’s interests and called for immediate damage control. 
Montano told us that he received separate calls from Calderon and from Foreign Secretary Espinoza, irate 
over his criticism.

9. (C) The media coverage did not in any way suggest a practical forum and there was a good supply of 
criticism, in addition to Montano’s piece, which was respectful in its choice of words. The most damning 
criticism was a political cartoon in the leading daily Reforma (Feb 24) which depicted a large Chavez 
gorilla, with a small Castro perched on his back playing an accordion labeled “CanCubaZuela Group” with 
a small image of Calderon dancing to the music and waving marimbas. Osorio told us at a same day Central 
Bank event with leading Mexican businessmen that there were abundant references to the cartoon and its 
apt characterization of the Summit’s result.

Comment
------------------ 

10. (C) In the end Mexico was limited to agreement on a new forum but without any specific commitments 
on institutional details. The Cancun declaration is a bulging rhetorical exercise
MEXICO 00000141 003 OF 003
that reflects the lack of agreement with its general and non-specific language. The press play leaned 
towards the critical side and even those who recognized Calderon’s well-mentioned effort focused more 
attention on the paltry results. Even on the issues that Mexico argued to us before the summit were 
reasons for bolstering the Rio Group -- success on Colombia-Venezuela-Ecuador problem - the Summit 
result was directly contrary to hopes for a new more operational mechanism in the region.

11. (C) We have not had yet received the official GOM post-Summit read-out from our SRE and Presidency 
sources - they have been busy finishing the Declaration and doing follow up work with the Latin American 
Missions. We will be shortly following up with their analysis and comments on the way ahead, and their 
plans for deepening trade and investment through a new arrangement with Brazil, announced at the end of 
the Summit. Whatever their read out, this is not playing here as a “diplomatic success,” except in some 
very general sense of raising the need for more effective regional action. Unfortunately, the Cancun 
Latin American Unity Summit was not an example of a new and bold step into the future but rather a 
reminder of Mexico’s at times conflicting message on how it sees the future of the region and Mexico’s 
role as one of its leaders. PASCUAL


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