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Viewing cable 06SAOPAULO276, CARDINAL HUMMES DISCUSSES LULA GOVERNMENT, THE OPPOSITION, AND FTAA REF: (A) 05 SAO PAULO 405; (B) 05 SAO PAULO 402 (C) 02 BRASILIA 2670

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06SAOPAULO276 2006-03-14 19:07 2010-12-14 06:06 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Consulate Sao Paulo
VZCZCXRO8600
PP RUEHRG
DE RUEHSO #0276/01 0731942
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 141942Z MAR 06
FM AMCONSUL SAO PAULO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4655
INFO RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 5815
RUEHRG/AMCONSUL RECIFE 2762
RUEHRI/AMCONSUL RIO DE JANEIRO 6898
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES 2091
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 0200
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA 0915
RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 2442
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO 1858
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 1605
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ 2641
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 0489
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC 2316
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 SAO PAULO 000276 

SIPDIS 

SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 

ROME PASS VATICAN 
STATE FOR WHA/BSC, EUR/WE, AND DRL/IRF 
STATE PASS USTR FOR SULLIVAN/LEZNY 
NSC FOR SCRONIN 
DEPT OF TREASURY FOR FPARODI 
USDOC FOR 332/ITA/MAC/WH/OLAC/JANDERSEN/ADRISCOLL/MWARD USDOC ALSO FOR 3134/USFCS/OIO/EOLSON/DDEVITO/DANDERSON STATE PASS EXIMBANK STATE PASS OPIC FOR DMORONESE, NRIVERA, CMERVENNE DOL FOR ILAB MMITTELHAUSER 

TAGS: PGOV PREL SCUL ETRD ECON ELAB BR

SUBJECT: CARDINAL HUMMES DISCUSSES LULA GOVERNMENT, THE OPPOSITION, AND FTAA REF: (A) 05 SAO PAULO 405; (B) 05 SAO PAULO 402 (C) 02 BRASILIA 2670 

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED - PLEASE PROTECT ACCORDINGLY. 

------- SUMMARY ------- 

1. (U) During a March 10 courtesy call by Consul General, Claudio Cardinal Hummes spoke at length of the successes and failures of the Lula government; shared his views on the competition between Sao Paulo Mayor Serra and Governor Alckmin for the presidential nomination of the Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB); and stressed that contrary to popular belief, the Catholic Church as an institution does not oppose the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) and in fact sees such agreements as necessary, but believes that any agreement must be thoroughly discussed and equitable for all parties. End Summary. 

--------------------------------------- LULA GOVERNMENT: ACCOMPLISHMENTS, BUT DISAPPOINTMENT TOO --------------------------------------- 

2. (U) Consul General (CG), accompanied by Poloff, paid a courtesy call March 10 on Dom Claudio Cardinal Hummes, Archbishop of Sao Paulo and leader of the Catholic Church in Brazil. When queried on his views on the current political scene, Hummes said Lula's government has been an important milestone for Brazil: a democratic government led by a worker, with major accomplishments to its credit such as macro-economic stability, improvement of Brazil's international image, and payment of the country's foreign debt. Obviously, not all has been so positive. The Cardinal knew Lula from the time when both were working in their respective fields in the ABC (Santo Andre, Sao Bernardo dos Campos, Sao Caetano do Sul) industrial suburbs south of Sao Paulo during the time of the military dictatorship (see ref A for complete biographic information), and he knew Lula wanted to do more on the social front to improve conditions for workers and the poor. He knew for a fact Lula was disappointed not to have created more jobs. "Bolsa Familia" (which involves conditional transfer payments to the poor) was a good program; it was true, as critics had pointed out, that it didn't lift people out of poverty, but it was effective as an emergency measure for the very needy. The fundamental problem, Hummes said, was that Brazil hadn't grown enough. High interest rates and high taxes had prevented it from keeping pace with other emerging economies like China, India, and Mexico. If this could be changed, Brazil would be ready to move forward. 

3. (SBU) Then there was the corruption scandal. Lula didn't deserve this, said Hummes. This was not to say that he really hadn't known anything of what was going on, as he claimed. But Lula had been badly served by people around him with their own agendas, especially former Chief of Staff Jose Dirceu. That agenda was to maintain the Workers' Party (Partido dos Trabalhadores - PT) in power, an objective that required a great deal of money. To Dirceu, the ends justified the means. Dirceu, who is a very rational, astute political operator, wanted to be Lula's successor, and he used the powers of government, including the more than 20,000 jobs to be filled by presidential appointees ("unjustified in a democracy," Hummes said) to that end. Ironically, Dirceu's activities were eventually exposed by Roberto Jefferson, (a federal deputy in a government-allied party who was implicated in corruption and then began to implicate others, and was himself eventually expelled from Congress), "who was himself not a hero of ethics." 

4. (SBU) Hummes was not certain Lula would even stand for re-election. "There's probably a 70 percent chance he will. He personally opposes re-election and always has. He thinks it would be much better to have a longer term, five or six years, but only one term. I also think this would be much better for our democracy." Hummes also opined that holding elections every two years -- federal and state elections alternative with municipal - was too disruptive and made it difficult for the government to accomplish anything. 

---- PSDB ---- 

5. (SBU) CG noted that Lula's recent resurgence in opinion polls posed a serious challenge for the opposition PSDB. Cardinal Hummes agreed, pointing out that there are many similarities between the PT and the PSDB. "Fernando Henrique Cardoso (FHC) brought the PSDB closer to the PT in many ways. And then Lula, when he came to power, adopted some PSDB policies. They have to be in conflict with each other for you to be able to see the differences." The party had too many good candidates, Hummes said, an abundance of talent that dates back to its founding. In 2002, the party had trouble deciding on Jose Serra as its nominee; finally, FHC had to step in and designate him. The Cardinal knows both PSDB presidential pre-candidates and talks regularly with both. In his view, the problem with a Serra candidacy is that if he runs and loses, the PSDB will have lost the Mayorship of Sao Paulo, its great window on national politics. Alckmin, though not as well known outside Sao Paulo, could be a great national surprise. Hummes opined that Alckmin could give Lula a better run for his money in the impoverished northeast, since Alckmin would appeal more that Serra to the lower classes. Even if he should lose to Lula, the PSDB would then still hold the Mayorship of Sao Paulo. Thus, the rational decision would be for Alckmin, but the Cardinal recognized that politics isn't always rational. He noted also that Minas Gerais Governor Aecio Neves had wanted to run this time, but decided not to because he was a sure bet to be re-elected as Governor of Minas but was less certain he could beat Lula. 

6. (SBU) During a second term, Hummes predicted, Lula would be more moderate than Serra would if elected. Lula was not much of an adventurer and wouldn't take risks, the way great leaders and governments do. Serra is by temperament much bolder, and has always opposed the conventional "neo-liberal" macro-economic policy implemented first by FHC and subsequently by Lula. 

-------------------------- CHURCH DOES NOT OPPOSE FTAA --------------------------- 

7. (SBU) CG raised the issue of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), noting that the U.S. remains interested in negotiating an agreement even though the Lula government is still less than enthusiastic, and inquired into the Church's position. The Cardinal replied that there is no institutional opposition on the Church's part to this type of agreement. The world is clearly becoming more integrated, and nations can no longer afford to isolate themselves or stand on nationalism. Brazil, for example, is a strong supporter of Mercosul, but the community is very fragile, due in large part to Argentine economic problems. The FTAA must overcome traditional beliefs that it is another vehicle for the U.S. to exploit Latin American poverty. Many in the region are unable to believe that a just agreement can be reached. Nevertheless, though it won't be easy, it is necessary for the parties to keep trying. Hummes expressed the view that President Lula is trying to help overcome the "old thinking" wherein others, especially the United States, were blamed for Brazil's problems. The Church as an institution, he reiterated, has not opposed FTAA and would not do so. Individual Brazilian bishops or groups of bishops might have, or NGOs affiliated with the Church. Perhaps a study group presented recommendations to the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil (CNBB) opposing FTAA, and these might have been published and characterized as an official Church position. But the CNBB itself had never adopted a resolution against FTAA, and the Church does not oppose free trade agreements in general or the FTAA in particular. The Church, he said in conclusion, does consider it important that any negotiated agreement be fully aired and discussed publicly, and be fair to all the parties. CG replied that the USG is aware that all such agreements must be acceptable to both (or all) sides, because otherwise they will not be sustainable. 

------- COMMENT ------- 

8. (SBU) Over the past six months, numerous Brazilian interlocutors from both the government and the private sector have advised us that the Church's opposition to an FTAA agreement was an important factor in the negative public opinion that in turn influenced the GoB's reluctance to move forward with negotiations. Ref C reported that in July 2002 CNBB was spearheading a National Campaign Against the FTAA, which, among other things, published a "scurrilous, error-filled 42-page pamphlet attacking the proposal and vilifying the 'imperialist' United States." Post is not in a position to determine, so long after the fact, whether the campaign and pamphlet were the work of the CNBB itself or of some of its more radical members. In September 2002, the Social Pastorate of the Catholic Church co-sponsored (along with the Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra (MST), the PT, and some 30 other NGOs) an unofficial anti-FTAA referendum. If the Cardinal's characterization of the Brazilian Church's official position is accurate - and we do not doubt his word or his knowledge of Church affairs - then that official position has long since been drowned out in the public mind by the vocal, negative views on FTAA of some priests, bishops, and influential lay people. That said, the fact that the Church does not in fact oppose an agreement may prove useful in the months ahead. More generally, Hummes's insights into the current Brazilian political scene are well-informed and lucid, and it is clear he is following the situation closely and is in contact with all the major players. End comment. 

9. (U) This cable was cleared/coordinated with Embassy Brasilia. McMullen