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Viewing cable 06SAOPAULO387, TUCANO" TALKS CAMPAIGN, CHICKENS, CHINA

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06SAOPAULO387 2006-04-10 11:11 2011-03-05 00:12 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Consulate Sao Paulo
VZCZCXRO7872
PP RUEHRG
DE RUEHSO #0387/01 1001140
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 101140Z APR 06
FM AMCONSUL SAO PAULO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4838
INFO RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 5981
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES 2152
RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 2498
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO 1905
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ 2703
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 1647
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 0380
RUEHRI/AMCONSUL RIO DE JANEIRO 6981
RUEHRG/AMCONSUL RECIFE 2831
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RUEHRC/USDA FAS WASHDC 0612
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC 2361
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 SAO PAULO 000387 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
NSC FOR CRONIN 
STATE PASS USTR FOR SULLIVAN/LEZNY 
TREASURY FOR OASIA, DAS LEE AND FPARODI 
USDOC FOR 4332/ITA/MAC/WH/OLAC/SHUPKA 
USDOC ALSO FOR 3134/USFCS/OIO/EOLSON/DDEVITO/DANDERSON STATE PASS EXIMBANK STATE PASS OPIC FOR DMORONESE, NRIVERA, CMERVENNE AID/W FOR LAC/AA 

E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS: EAGR TBIO PGOV PREL PINR ETRD BR CH

SUBJECT: "TUCANO" TALKS CAMPAIGN, CHICKENS, CHINA 

REF: (A) BRASILIA 609; 
(B) BRASILIA 603 
(C) SAO PAULO 316 AND PREVIOUS SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED - PLEASE PROTECT ACCORDINGLY. 

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

1. (U) Poloffs met April 3 with Christian Lohbauer, until recently a municipal official in the administration of Sao Paulo Mayor Serra and now a lobbyist for Brazil's poultry association. Lohbauer ventured some predictions about the upcoming presidential campaign, described some of the challenges facing Brazil's poultry industry, and expressed disappointment over his recent visit to China in connection with Vice-President Alencar's high-level meetings. End Summary. 

2. (SBU) Christian Lohbauer is a long-time contact of the Consulate who served from January 2005 through January 2006 as Deputy Secretary for International Relations in the municipal government of SIPDIS Sao Paulo. He departed to take a position as International Relations Manager for the Brazilian Chicken Producers and Exporters Association (ABEF). Lohbauer is a loyalist of the Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB) - party members are called "tucanos," after their toucan bird emblem - and the former International Affairs Manager of the influential Federation of Industries of Sao Paulo State (FIESP). He met with Poloffs April 3 to exchange views on the current political scene and talk about his new job. He thought his party's presidential candidate, former Sao Paulo Governor Geraldo Alckmin, had a good chance to beat President Lula, but was not sanguine about the current status of the poultry industry and was critical of the Lula government's trade promotion efforts, as illustrated by Vice President Alencar's recent visit to China, in which Lohbauer participated as an industry representative. 

----------------- ALCKMIN AND SERRA ----------------- 

3. (U) In Lohbauer's view, Alckmin waged a remarkable campaign within the PSDB to wrest the nomination away from Mayor Serra (ref C). Particularly impressive was the way Alckmin's acolytes rounded up support among party legislators. For example, the mid-February election of a Serra supporter as PSDB leader of the federal Camara dos Deputados by a very small margin was a clear indication that Alckmin's support among party office-holders was stronger than previously realized. Shortly thereafter, PSDB deputies in the Sao Paulo state Legislative Assembly voted overwhelmingly to support Alckmin. 

4. (SBU) Serra's lifelong dream, to be President of Brazil, may now be impossible to achieve, Lohbauer thought. Even if Alckmin loses to Lula this year, Serra will have trouble getting the PSDB nomination four years from now, because Minas Gerais Governor Aecio Neves will want to run. However, though personally loyal to Serra, Lohbauer acknowledged that Alckmin may be the better candidate to run against Lula, with a good chance to win. He cited a clear distinction between Alckmin's and Lula's economic philosophies and noted, as have other observers, that the most likely swing voters are to be found among the lower-middle and lower classes - what Brazilians call Classes "C" and "D" - the working poor. Lula is perceived to be doing things for these voters, and Alckmin's challenge will be to convince them he can improve their standard of living and their opportunities. He's beginning with a deficit - Lula leads by 15-20 percent in most polls - but that can be overcome, Lohbauer opined. 

SAO PAULO 00000387 002 OF 003 

--------------------------- LULA AND THE LATEST SCANDAL --------------------------- 

5. (SBU) Lohbauer was still shaking his head over the recent scandal that brought down Finance Minister Antonio Palocci (ref A). It was incomprehensible to him that senior officials of the Caixa Economica Federal (CEF) could have been unaware of the implications of their actions when they illegally accessed the bank account information of Palocci's accuser, handyman/caretaker Francenildo Costa, allegedly at the behest of the Minister and his advisors, information that was subsequently made public. This wasn't a trivial matter. CEF was a very important state-owned bank from which "Bolsa Familia" and other social funds are disbursed. Lohbauer also noted with amusement that former CEF President Jorge Mattoso, who was implicated in the scandal, had served as Sao Paulo's Secretary for International Relations during Marta Suplicy's first two years as Mayor (2001-02). Normally, a career diplomat on leave or loan from the MFA would fill such a position, but Mattoso got the job because he was a long-time loyalist of Lula's Workers Party (Partido dos Trabalhadores - PT). 

6. (U) With Palocci's departure, Lula was "more alone than ever," Lohbauer said. "There's nobody left in his party except him. If he weren't available, who would they have to run? If he wins the election, he'll have to seek a government of national unity like Itamar Franco did after [Fernando] Collor's resignation [in 1992], ask the other parties to rally around and support him for the good of the country, because he'll have nobody. It will be a big mess. I think Alckmin will win, but it won't be easy to convince people to change course. It will be close, and it could go either way." 

------------------------ TOUGH TIMES FOR CHICKENS ------------------------ 

7. (U) Brazil's poultry industry is facing serious challenges, Lohbauer said. Forty percent of the world's chicken exports are from Brazil, whose annual poultry exports bring in revenues of USD 2.5 billion. Four million Brazilians depend economically on some aspect of the poultry sector. One third of poultry production is destined for export, with the other two thirds for the domestic market. Due to limits on consumption and storage, right now they almost can't give away the domestic production. Brazilian producers are cutting back by 20 percent, with a concomitant loss of income and jobs. This is all due to fear of avian influenza, Lohbauer said. If and when the disease appears on the South American continent or, worse yet, in Brazil itself, the economic consequences will be dire. "If a few ducks in Guanabara Bay [Rio de Janeiro] are found to have traces of the virus, the whole country will be under quarantine before you know it." 

-------------- THE CHINA TRIP -------------- 

8. (SBU) Lohbauer said he had traveled to China in late March and had attended (along with a representative of the Brazilian beef industry) some of Vice President (and until recently Defense Minister) Jose da Silva Alencar's meetings with Chinese officials (ref B) on agricultural issues. He opined that Alencar had not been well prepared and the Brazilian delegation appeared unwilling to engage the Chinese on the substance of issues. According to Lohbauer's account, the Chinese Minister of Agriculture had raised an issue related to Brazilian exports of soybeans to China. Alencar appeared embarrassingly unfamiliar with the details, and neither MFA Secretary General Samuel Pinheiros Guimaraes nor the Brazilian SIPDIS Agriculture Ministry or Embassy officials present had anything to 

SAO PAULO 00000387 003 OF 003 

say about the issue. 

9. (SBU) Likewise, when the Minister mentioned a visit to Brazil by Chinese veterinarians to inspect meat processing facilities, the Vice President again offered virtually no substantive comment. He didn't even express a strong interest in exporting Brazilian beef and poultry to China, as might be expected. Embassy officials later told Lohbauer they had provided Vice President Alencar with abundant briefing materials on all subjects likely to come up in the talks, but he hadn't read them. Lohbauer noted ruefully that ABEF had paid for his trip to China to attend the meetings, and it had been a waste of time and money, as nothing was accomplished on the chicken front. 

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

10. (SBU) Lohbauer is a dyed-in-the-wool "tucano," and his criticism of the Lula government, and especially its conduct of foreign and commercial affairs, is predictable, though probably not inaccurate. Of more concern is his assessment of the state of Brazil's chicken sector, which is facing times of uncertainty and anxiety. End comment. 

11. (U) This cable was coordinated with Embassy Brasilia. 

MCMULLEN