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Brazil - General says Brazil should get used to "body bags" from war

Natalia Viana, 15 December 2010, 18.00 GMT

"Brazil must be willing to ... confront the prospect ’of body bags returning to Brazil ... if it wants to have a leadership role in the world," General Jorge Armando Felix, Brazil’s Minister of Institutional Security told U.S. ambassador Clifford Sobel at a dinner meeting on January 30, 2007, according to a telegram published today by WikiLeaks.

The minister and the ambassador were preparing for a visit from the US Attorney General to meet with Dilma Rousseff, Brazilian President Lula’s Chief of Staff.

Price to Pay

"Felix said that he, both personally and as a military man, believed the time had come for Brazil to pay the price and assume a leadership position in world affairs," wrote Sobel. "Brazil must be willing to modernize and deploy its forces for international operations and confront the prospect ’of body bags returning to Brazil’."

Sobel asked Felix about an upcoming visit by General Michael Hayden, the director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, to Brazil. "Felix repeated throughout the meeting that he believed Brazil’s intelligence relationship with the USG (U.S. government) was extremely important to Brazil, and that continued communication between the two respective intelligence services was vital because of the ability to communicate frankly and rapidly without the obstacles of protocol and bureaucracy," wrote Sobel.

General Felix also talked about Hugo Chavez, saying the Venezuelan president had little inffluence in Brazil and only a few supporters. "As long as neighboring governments were democratically elected, Brazil would try to be as accommodating as possible to their particular political idiosyncrasies," Felix told Sobel.

Felix had already made it clear that he disliked Chavez at an earlier lunch at the ambassador’s house in 2005. At the time he said that he had his own personal opinions about Chavez, that were different from the Brazilian Government’s position. "That being said, General Felix said that he preferred keeping in line with the official position", says the cable."Felix noted that whether one was pro- or anti-Chavez, he had become very much a part of the Latin American reality".