PARIS — A 2009 memo from the US Embassy in Paris to the Secretary of State’s office released in the latest batch of Wikileaks documents, details French President Nicholas Sarkozy’s efforts to cultivate the rapport between Brazil and France by providing political, diplomatic, economic and military support to South America’s largest country.
Wikileaks cable 09Paris1526, created November 17, 2009, refers to the relationship between Sarkozy and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva, as a “love affair” between two countries both eager to improve their international prowess.
The cable details the various gestures of support Sarkozy extended to Brazil over the past three years, including the sale of French fighter jets and the construction of a vast military complex.
According to the document, as France’s leading Latin American trade partner, Brazil hosts over 420 French companies which employ over 400,000 people. French exports to Brazil totaled over $5 billion and Brazilian exports to France totaled over $6 billion in 2008.
Examples of Sarkozy’s copious efforts to solicit the world’s fifth most populous nation, include the “F-X2” project, in which Sarkozy allegedly crusaded for Brazil to purchase the French-made Rafale fighter jet, made by the French company Dassault, rather than American or Swedish options.
Shortly before Sarkozy’s visit, Brazil released a short list of its favored jets for the F-X2 project: the Swedish-made SAAB Gripen NG, Dassault’s Rafale and the American Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, the staple of the US Navy.
“Politically motivated, the Brazilian Foreign Ministry decision to publicly announce their intention to go with French company Dassault, which makes the Rafale, over the Brazilian Air Force’s preferred [American-made] Super Hornet stemmed from Lula’s close relationship with Sarkozy,” the document said, a relationship believed to have been initially kindled by the previous French President Jacques Chirac.
“Sarkozy presented the myth that France is the perfect partner for the states that do not want to rely on U.S. technology,” the cable said.
The Brazilian Air Force already uses 12 French-made Dassault Mirage 2000 fighter/interceptor jets, which it received between 2006-2008 to replace the aged French-made Mirage III jets. The country also uses several homemade fighters from Embraer, the Brazilian Aeronautics Company, Inc. Brazil also has dozens of American F-5 export fighters on hand.
In addition, in September 2009 both leaders signed a $12 billion purchase of five submarines, including Latin America’s first nuclear-propelled submarine, while Brazil simultaneously announced intentions to negotiate the purchase of 36 French-made Rafale fighter jets after the French agreed to give Brazil software source codes for the aircrafts as well.
“Labeled the ‘French comparative advantage,’ the technology transfer appealed to Brazil’s desire to not only purchase the Rafale but to manufacture the aircraft in-country and possibly sell them throughout Latin America by 2030,” stated the document, attributing that information to the Brazilian political-military attache Marcus Rector Toledo Silva.
In addition, the memo outlines France’s efforts to aid Brazil in accomplishing its ambition to become a world power by helping build the largest military industrial complex in the southern hemisphere. The country seeks to protect its vast natural resources, including timber, gold and uranium, from illegal foreign exploitation..
Home to the world’s seventh largest oil reserve and the largest area of natural biodiversity in the Amazon, the cable also said Brazil has announced discovery of massive offshore oil reserves in the Atlantic ocean that, according to Lula, could finance the country’s rise to first world status.
“Brazil seeks to protects its riches and assert itself as a new military power and France is ‘ready to fully support Brazil as an emerging power,’ said MFA (?) Assistant Secretary for the Americas Beton-Delegue, according to the document.
Sarkozy has also backed efforts to give Brazil a permanent seat on the United Nation’s Security Council (sp?), and supported numerous cultural efforts including the campaigns to host the 2016 Olympics and the 2014 World Cup.
In 2009, Brazil celebrated the “Year of France,” with a series of cultural and commercial events in response to France’s “Year of Brazil” in 2005. The Brazilian embassy in Paris engaged in tri-lateral cooperation with the French on agricultural projects in Africa, and Paris mayor Bertrand Delanoe was made an honorary citizen of Rio de Janeiro after he signed an agreement to revitalize Rio’s ports.
Brazil also likes to bost that Sarkozy and his wife, Carla Bruni, often vacation in Brazil, the cable said.
According to the comment at the end of the document, the “deepening partnership with Brasilia provides France with greater entre into Latin America,” and benefits both countries.
“Lula’s decision to back the purchase of French fighter jets indicates the deepening Franco-Brazilian relationship and demonstrates the increasing political, diplomatic and specifically commercial success of Sarkozy’s courtship,” the document said.
The French president’s wooing is only expected to increase in 2011 as fuel for his 2012 re-election campaign, the cable added.
John M. Guilfoil of the Blast Staff contributed to this report.