WikiLeaks cables rattle Latin America, creating potential tensions with USA

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's probing questions into the state of Argentine President Cristina Fernandez's mental health, reports of Cuban spies and Colombian FARC guerrillas in Venezuela, and statements that Bolivian President Evo Morales had been invited to Brazil to have a sinus tumor removed are just some of the disclosures made in the leaked diplomatic cables whistle-blower site WikiLeaks released in what has become known as "cablegate."

So far, only 290 of the quarter-million documents have been released. The documents mention Latin American countries 33,805 times, or in about 8 percent of the communications, according to the Miami Herald. Venezuela appears the most (3,435 times) followed by Brazil (3,070 times) and Colombia (2,896 times).

In a new diplomatic cable about Argentina's president released Wednesday, Dec. 1, Sergio Massa, who led Fernandez's cabinet in 2008 and 2009, told a U.S. diplomat that the Argentine president "is 'submissive' to her powerful husband who is a controlling 'monster,' the Associated Press reported.

Efforts are underway for Secretary of State Clinton to call Fernandez to "minimize the impact of the cables released by the whistle-blower website WikiLeaks in order to avoid a diplomatic conflict," according to the Buenos Aires Herald.

Cables also showed that Washington was "complicit" with the overthrow of Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, he said, as reported in the Latin American Herald Tribune.

Peruvian President Alan García dismissed the leaked cables as being the opinions of "gringos" and "totally irrelevant," and Brazil's out-going President Luiz Inácio Silva da Lula said the documents about his country are insignificant and "don’t deserve to be taken seriously,” reported the Financial Times.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez praised WikiLeaks for releasing the cables, referred to U.S. State Department workers as "delinquents," and called on Clinton to resign, the Wall Street Journal said.

Meanwhile, the man at the center of the storm, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, was uninvited to seek asylum and work in Ecuador, the Christian Science Monitor reported. President Rafael Correa cancelled Tuesday's invitation, saying WikiLeaks "has committed an error by breaking the laws of the United States and leaking this type of information," Reuters said.

Global Voices provides reactions and analysis to the Latin American cables here.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.