According to a diplomatic cable exposed by WikiLeaks and reproduced by the Brazilian portal ‘Opera Mundi,’ Paraguay expressed deep concern about “Brazilian dominance” in South America.
The cable sent to Washington, and signed by “Keane”, refers to a dialogue in April 2005, with then Paraguayan Foreign Affairs minister Leila Rachid who said her country was fearful of an alleged strategy from her Brazilian peer Celso Amorim “to minimize US influence in South America.”
In her talks with the US ambassador in Paraguay, Rachid interpreted this strategy as an attempt to “assert Brazilian dominance, a course she strongly opposes because it translates into unfettered Brazilian control of Paraguay’s destiny.”
At the time, Ecuador was in the midst of a political crisis (elected president Lucio Gutierrez was ousted April 20, 2005) and Mercosur, of which Paraguay held the rotating chair, drafted a release in support of democracy and cautioned about the consequences of a rupture based on the Inter American Democratic Charter.
However Amorim insisted on no mention of the IADC but rather of then nascent Union of South American Nations, Unasur, which is a brainchild of Brazilian diplomacy to counter the Organization of American States. Rachid described Unasur (2005) as “a gleam in the eye” at that point.
The full cable follows:
1) April 21, Paraguay, in its capacity as temporary President of Mercosur, issued a statement calling upon the “political and social forces of Ecuador to preserve democracy” and seed a peaceful solution to the crisis occurring in that country. According to the press, Paraguay’s statement, 1) recalled the Protocolo of Ushuaia – the declaration that articulates the democratic principles to which Mercosur members subscribe – which excludes partners in the event of a rupture with democracy and 2) affirmed that Mercosur would support the approach of the recently created South American Community of Nations.
2) FM Lelia Rachid confided to the Ambassador on April 21 that Brazil’s Foreign Minister Celso Amorim had insisted that the Mercosur statement refer to the “South American Community of Nations” (SACN) and not to the Inter American Democratic Charter. She argued against the idea because the SACN is merely a gleam in the eye at this point; it was announced as a proposal last year but it lacks structure, a set of guiding principles agreed to by members and any other normal characteristics of “institutionalization.” Amorim prevailed, however, because she suspected (President) Duarte Frutos would not back her if she resisted (subject of a septel).
3. (C) Rachid noted that Amorim said he wanted no mention of the Inter American Democratic Charter because that would be an invitation for the OAS, and therefore the U.S., to “meddle” in “regional” (i.e., South American) issues that “we should be taking care of ourselves in the region.” She added the personal comment that Amorim is pushing an agenda designed to minimize U.S. influence in South America and assert Brazilian dominance, a course she strongly opposes because it translates into unfettered Brazilian control of Paraguay’s destiny.