Monday, November 29, 2010

LatAm targeted in Wikileaks document dump (updated)

By now perhaps you’ve heard about Sunday’s dump of a reported 250,000 diplomatic documents by the Wikileaks website. The press has concentrated on the release of cables showing U.S. relations with leaders in Europe and the Middle East. But several Latin American heads of state and topics were not exempt from the action deemed by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as an "attack on the international community".

  • Honduras: Perhaps the most damaging leaked documents pertaining to Latin America have to do with the 2008 ouster of then-Honduran president Manuel Zelaya. "No matter what the merits of the case against Zelaya, his forced removal by the military was clearly illegal, and (de facto leader Roberto) Micheletti's ascendance as 'interim president' was totally illegitimate," according to a communiqué from Ambassador Hugo Llorens. The memo, which was emitted less than a month after Zelaya was forced into exile by the military, somewhat contradicts the official State Department measured response. In addition, as Daniel Altschuler wrote in the Americas Quaterly:
The leaked analysis by the embassy offers such a systematic rejection pro-coup case, but it was never advanced publicly. Had the administration made public such an assessment of the Honduran coup—and its implicit rejection of the LLC (Law Library of Congress) report—it would have provided a useful tool for refuting the spurious arguments made by conservatives. Instead, as summer 2009 drew to a close, the position that the coup was a defense of the rule of law gained traction inside the Beltway.
  • Venezuela: U.S. diplomats attempted to isolate President Hugo Chávez from his Latin American neighbors acceding to some of the over 2300 leaked documents on Venezuela. One French official in a 2009 communiqué called Chavez “crazy” and claimed that he was "taking one of Latin America's richest countries and turning it into another Zimbabwe." (French officials have yet to confirm such a scathing critique).
  • Argentina: Speaking of “crazy” the mental state of Argentine President Cristina Fernandez was the focus of one memo by Secretary Clinton who implied that she may not have been on the ball. (2200 memos were leaked from Buenos Aires, third highest among Latin American states).
  • Guantanamo: Trying to convince foreign countries to accept detainees of the prison at Guantanamo turned into a diplomatic game of “Let’s Make a Deal.” “Slovenia was told to take a prisoner if it wanted to meet with President Obama,” according to the New York Times while millions of dollars worth of incentives were offered to the Asian-Pacific country of Kiribati in exchange for taking in Chinese Muslim detainees.
  • Colombia: The Latin American country with the most leaked docs from Wikileaks with over 2400 cables. Oddly enough, however, none of the newspapers with access to the docs on Colombia have revealed the content of the leaked cables. That didn’t stop Colombia’s foreign minister from doing some damage control and claiming that the Wikileaks dump is exclusively “a U.S. problem.”
  • Panama: As the saying goes “hindsight is 20/20.” According to a leaked 1989 memo a U.S. diplomat called then-Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega “a master of survival”. Days later Noriega would be ousted in a U.S.-led military invasion.
  • South America (Update): Bolivian authorities claimed that the Wikileaks document disclosure proved that the U.S. "spied" on Bolivia via the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Agency for International Development. Other leaked documents showed that Brazil was reluctant to participate in the U.S.-led "war on terror", and instead opted to focus on drug trafficking and money laundering.
Image- AFP via Sydney Morning Herald (“Whistleblower website WikiLeaks unleashes a flood of US cables detailing shocking diplomatic episodes.”)
Online Sources- Too many to list!

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