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Viewing cable 06LAPAZ2910, VP, AMBASSADOR DISCUSS WAYS TO IMPROVE BILATERAL

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06LAPAZ2910 2006-10-27 13:01 2010-12-03 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy La Paz
VZCZCXRO2364
PP RUEHLMC
DE RUEHLP #2910/01 3001308
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 271308Z OCT 06
FM AMEMBASSY LA PAZ
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1098
INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 6220
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 3540
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 7402
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES 4662
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 1913
RUEHGT/AMEMBASSY GUATEMALA 0577
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA 1964
RUEHMD/AMEMBASSY MADRID 3157
RUEHME/AMEMBASSY MEXICO 1841
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO 4113
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 4551
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 9125
RHMFISS/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RUMIAAA/USCINCSO MIAMI FL
RUEHLMC/MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORP
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 05 LA PAZ 002910 

SIPDIS 

SIPDIS 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/27/2016 
TAGS: PARM ECON SNAR PREL PGOV BL
SUBJECT: VP, AMBASSADOR DISCUSS WAYS TO IMPROVE BILATERAL 
TIES 


Classified By: Ambassador Philip S. Goldberg for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d 
). 

1. (C) Summary: In their first meeting since the Ambassador 
presented his credentials October 13, the Ambassador and Vice 
President Alvaro Garcia Linera engaged in a cordial exchange 
October 26 on U.S. assistance, extension of ATPDEA benefits, 
Morales' anti-American discourse, military relations and 
counternarcotics. The vice president opened the meeting 
warmly, saying that his recent visit to a USAID fair had 
provided him with a valuable education about U.S. assistance 
in Bolivia. With respect to President Bush's announcement in 
support of an ATPDEA extension for the region, the vice 
president said the GOB is "very happy and grateful" for this 
"friendly sign" from the United States. The Ambassador told 
Garcia Linera that the best way forward for the GOB would be 
to not only lower, but to improve, its public discourse 
toward the United States. The Ambassador also cautioned 
Garcia Linera that Bolivia's relationships with other 
countries have consequences. The vice president said he 
hoped the Ambassador would rely on him as an "instant 
messenger" for any communications with the GOB in order to 
avoid missteps in the relationship. On mil-mil relations, 
Garcia Linera said he hoped to remove the F-10 
counterterrorism matter and the MANPADS issue from the 
bilateral agenda, although he said the missiles transfer 
would continue to be an internal issue. On counternarcotics, 
the Ambassador said that voluntary eradication is ideal, but 
said that the GOB would have to show quick results. 
Following the meeting, the Ambassador and the vice president 
held a joint press conference, the first of its kind since 
Morales took office in January. Despite the recent ups and 
downs in the bilateral relationship, Garcia Linera appeared 
to be putting on his best face for the Ambassador. End 
summary. 

------------------------------------- 
U.S. ASSISTANCE: A PLEASANT SURPRISE 
------------------------------------- 

2. (C) The vice president opened the meeting warmly, saying 
that while he had been familiar with the amount of U.S. 
assistance, his visit to a recent USAID fair had provided him 
with a valuable education about its "characteristics." 
Garcia Linera was particularly impressed with USAID's 
microenterprise and agricultural assistance, which he said 
directly help many poor Bolivians. Garcia Linera also noted 
the Ambassador's October 25 book and equipment donations in 
the Altiplano. The Ambassador said he hopes to continue 
traveling in order to demonstrate our desire to assist 
Bolivians with their development efforts, as well as to 
improve Bolivians' understanding of the United States. He 
expressed concern that many Bolivians' image of the United 
States is outdated, and that we are in fact a very dynamic 
country that understands well the struggle to overcome 
social, political and economic exclusion. 

--------------------------------------------- ------ 
U.S. EXECUTIVE BRANCH SUPPORT FOR ATPDEA EXTENSION 
--------------------------------------------- ------ 

3. (C) With respect to President Bush's announcement in 
support of an ATPDEA extension for the region, the vice 
president said the GOB is "very happy and grateful" for this 
"friendly sign" from the United States. The Ambassador 
complimented the vice president's October 25 comments on 
ATPDEA, saying that he was prudent to caution the Bolivian 
people that the matter will be decided by the U.S. Congress. 
The Ambassador told the vice president that President Bush's 
support is an example of our desire to improve relations with 
Bolivia. Garcia Linera stressed that in the absence of free 
trade negotiations, ATPDEA is of critical importance to 
Bolivia. The vice president acknowledged former Ambassador 

LA PAZ 00002910 002 OF 005 


Greenlee's advice to the GOB on ATPDEA, saying that he hoped 
that the Ambassador would continue in the same vein. 

--------------------------------------------- 
REINFORCING THE MESSAGE: PLEASE LOWER THE TONE 
--------------------------------------------- 

4. (C) The Ambassador told Garcia Linera that the best way 
forward for the GOB would be to not only lower, but to 
improve, its public discourse toward the United States. He 
cautioned that President Morales' anti-American remarks may 
damage Bolivia's chances for an ATPDEA extension. The 
Ambassador explained that before his arrival at post, he 
participated in counternarcotics certification conversations, 
in which he said there were serious questions about 
recertifying Bolivia. If we hadn't certified, the Ambassador 
said, we wouldn't be talking about an ATPDEA extension now. 
The Ambassador told the vice president that he offered the 
president, the minister of the presidency and the foreign 
minister the same counsel-- that the GOB needs to lower its 
tone. He said the USG cannot compartmentalize its foreign 
policy, but looks at the overall relationship. The 
Ambassador said that by accusing the USG and the Embassy of 
conspiracy and assassination attempts, the GOB had fallen 
well below the accepted norms of diplomatic and political 
discourse. 

5. (C) Garcia Linera attempted to defend Morales' 
anti-American rhetoric, saying that the president's history 
with the United States was one of "distance and conflict." 
He said the GOB wants to turn the page but that "the history 
is still there," although "each time less." The vice 
president said the GOB wants to close the era of mistrust 
definitively, saying that Morales' trip to the United States 
for the United Nations General Assembly was a big step 
forward in this regard. He said the trip enabled Morales to 
see the "human" side of our country, and that it was 
important for Morales to see the United States as an open, 
pluralistic society. He said the president was "excited" 
when he returned, energized by the personal contact with 
Americans he had had in the United States. The vice 
president said he "celebrated" Morales' trip and described 
the bilateral relationship following it as "closer, 
friendlier." Garcia Linera said he hopes that Morales will 
visit the United States again soon. The visit aside, Garcia 
Linera said he could not "guarantee" that Morales would not 
suffer a rhetorical relapse, but promised to try. He said 
that he had asked Ambassador Greenlee for a "good dose of 
patience" and asked Ambassador Goldberg for the same as a 
"very personal request." Garcia Linera said the GOB is "not 
looking for confrontation or tension." He said that once in 
a while, "fissures will open, things surface, but we want to 
expand and improve relations." 

------------------------------ 
CHOOSE YOUR FRIENDS CAREFULLY 
------------------------------ 

6. (C) Along the same lines, the Ambassador cautioned Garcia 
Linera that Bolivia's relationship with other countries may 
have consequences. He said Bolivia's relations are Bolivia's 
business, but that the GOB should be aware that they can 
impact its relations with other countries, including the 
United States. The Ambassador offered the example of a 
recent anti-American speech by the Venezuelan ambassador, 
with Morales at his side. The Ambassador added that no one in 
the diplomatic corps seems to have met the Venezuelan 
ambassador, a signal that raises questions about the 
Venezuelan's activities here. Garcia Linera said he 
understood and said "we don't need" those consequences. 
Likewise, the Ambassador suggested that the GOB be careful 
not to interfere in the democratic processes of neighboring 
countries, citing a press report that Morales and Ecuador's 

LA PAZ 00002910 003 OF 005 


"legitimate president" Rafael Correa would speak at an 
October 26 event supporting Bolivia's "revolution" (septel). 
The Ambassador said respect for Ecuador's democratic process 
could only help Bolivia's international image. Garcia Linera 
appeared to take the Ambassador's comment on board, 
responding that the GOB was not funding the conference. 

------------------- 
YOU CAN TALK TO ME 
------------------- 

7. (C) The vice president said he hoped the Ambassador would 
rely on him as an "instant messenger" for any communications 
with the GOB in order to avoid missteps in the relationship. 
Garcia Linera said, "Don't doubt me as a channel for 
anything." He encouraged the Ambassador to pass him 
criticisms and observations, and to call him at any hour or 
to ask for a meeting with him or the president on short 
notice. Garcia Linera referred to a recent GOB experience 
with bad intelligence (presumably on the subject of U.S. 
students in Bolivia whom the GOB alleged were undercover U.S. 
military operatives), saying that if a similar situation 
presents itself, the president would like to call the 
Ambassador to confirm the information. Garcia Linera 
lamented that at the time of that incident, the GOB "didn't 
have a bridge" to the Embassy, leading the president to keep 
the information to himself and then to speak about it 
publicly. Garcia Linera admitted that was "their mistake" and 
that they have to work against susceptibility to certain 
types of information. 

8. (C) The Ambassador thanked the vice president for his 
offer and agreed to contact him with any questions or 
concerns. He also encouraged Garcia Linera to call him, 
particularly before publicly accusing the USG of any 
wrongdoing. The Ambassador stressed that the USG has not 
reacted publicly to Morales' accusations because of our 
desire to improve relations. In turn, Garcia Linera said he 
would welcome the Ambassador's counsel on how the GOB could 
improve the bilateral relationship. The vice president 
admitted the GOB had been skeptical about former Ambassador 
Greenlee's advice in this regard--and had even debated about 
whether Greenlee's advice was good. Garcia Linera said in 
the end, they had accepted the Embassy's advice in good faith 
and had been pleasantly surprised. 

------------------------------------------- 
MILITARY RELATIONS: VP WANTS TO STRENGTHEN 
------------------------------------------- 

9. (C) In response to the Ambassador's stated desire to 
improve mil-mil relations (despite Article 98 restrictions), 
Garcia Linera said he hoped to remove the F-10 
counterterrorism matter and the MANPADS issue from the 
bilateral agenda, although he said the missiles transfer 
would continue to be an internal issue. Garcia Linera said 
Bolivian forces are no longer using the F-10 arms and that 
plans are underway to transfer them to permit U.S access. 
The Ambassador said he was optimistic about resolving that 
issue and hoped that we could do the same with the missiles 
transfer, despite the political complexities of that issue. 
Garcia Linera said that while he understands the U.S. 
position, the pending "internal investigation" of President 
Rodriguez and other GOB officials would not be resolved 
quickly. 

10. (C) The Ambassador also said that we would like to do 
more in the area of military education and exchanges. Garcia 
Linera welcomed the overture, adding that he would like to 
take up the full range of military cooperation prohibited by 
Article 98 later. The Ambassador gently reminded Garcia 
Linera that the GOB should ratify the agreement so they could 
give him access. Finally, Garcia Linera expressed great 

LA PAZ 00002910 004 OF 005 


interest in the milgroup's New Horizons exercise planned for 
2007, as well as other civil works. The Ambassador explained 
that we are asking the GOB to sign a new Status of Forces 
Agreement to make such projects possible, and that we have 
already raised the subject with the ministries of defense, 
presidency and foreign relations. 

------------------------------------------- 
COUNTERNARCOTICS: AN INITIAL CONVERSATION 
------------------------------------------- 

11. (C) On counternarcotics, the Ambassador said of course 
the USG would like to see the GOB's voluntary eradication 
program work, but said the GOB would have to show quick 
results. The Ambassador said that while he realized coca is 
a sensitive topic domestically, it is in both countries' 
interest to work together to fight drug trafficking. He told 
Garcia Linera that it would be impossible for the USG to 
support the GOB's coca ideology (e.g. industrialization and 
legalization), suggesting instead that the two governments 
focus on their common interest in stopping the flow of drugs. 
He also told the vice president that President Morales' 
ill-informed statements on U.S. drug use were not helpful. 
The Ambassador told Garcia Linera that the United States has 
worked hard to lower drug consumption, but that consumption 
is up in Europe and is a growing problem in Brazil and 
Bolivia. Garcia Linera described eradication as 
"complicated," but noted that the Morales government is 
eradicating in many new areas. Garcia Linera made a subtle 
pitch for increased U.S. counternarcotics assistance, saying 
the GOB needs additional eradicators. If not, he said, we 
will see an increase in narcotrafficking. The Ambassador 
suggested they discuss counternarcotics strategies in depth 
soon, and noted that the October 28 arrival of INL Deputy 
Assistant Secretary Christy McCampbell would present an 
immediate opportunity for further dialogue. 

----------------------- 
A UNITED PUBLIC FRONT 
----------------------- 

12. (C) Following the meeting, the Ambassador and the vice 
president held a joint press conference at the Ambassador's 
urging, the first of its kind since Morales took office in 
January. Like the meeting, the tone of the press conference 
was warm. The vice president publicly thanked the Ambassador 
for his visit, describing it as "cordial." Garcia Linera 
said he and the Ambassador had discussed "steps forward" on 
many issues of mutual interest, and cited the GOB's will and 
his own personal commitment to "expand and improve" relations 
with the United States, particularly in order to promote 
democracy and fight poverty and drug trafficking. 

-------------------------------- 
COMMENT: STARTING A NEW CHAPTER 
-------------------------------- 

13. (C) Despite the recent ups and downs in the bilateral 
relationship, Garcia Linera appeared to be putting on his 
best face for the Ambassador. During the hour-long meeting, 
the two talked about the president's birthday (October 26), 
which a crowd of supporters commemorated with fireworks 
(causing an occasional noisy interruption to the otherwise 
smooth conversation) and a toy donation ceremony for Bolivian 
children. (Note: Garcia Linera said the president was 
delighted to give the children toys because he had played 
with sheep bones as a child in eocnomically-depressed Oruro. 
End note). Garcia Linera seemed relaxed and pleased to start 
anew with the USG, even responding to the Ambassador's 
invitation to use first names by telling the Ambassador to 
"call me Alvaro." Garcia Linera said he had been very 
attentive to Ambassador Goldberg's words and gestures since 
he arrived, implying his approval of his new interlocutor. 

LA PAZ 00002910 005 OF 005 


End comment. 
GOLDBERG