Bonum Certa Men Certa

Cablegate: Gates Foundation Sends Team to Install 'Free' Software in the Health Ministry


"There's free software and then there’s open source... there is this thing called the GPL, which we disagree with."

--Bill Gates, April 2008

Summary: Cable in Cablegate mischaracterises the role of the Bill Gates lobby (calling proprietary software "free software")

THE Gates Foundation is more like a lobbying group and, according to this Cablegate cable, it is allowed to control health systems through software, too. "He spoke of assistance from the Gates Foundation," says this cable, "in developing the province's e-government capacity, including a team that was arriving to install free software in the health ministry for the management of medication supplies." Is it anything like those Microsoft applications that Gates puts inside libraries before leaving those libraries stranded? And schools too? We have addressed this subject in posts such as:

Here is the full cable.







SUMMARY -------

ۦ1. (U) The Ambassador reaffirmed the USG commitment to strengthening bilateral ties with Argentina and discussed investment, drugs, and local issues during an April 30 meeting with Buenos Aires Governor Daniel Scioli and series of meetings in the provincial capital. The Ambassador visited a parish school serving disadvantaged children; met with La Plata municipal leaders and officials from the Universidad Nacional de La Plata and the Universidad Catolica de La Plata; opened the U.S. Embassy sponsored photo exhibit "Landmarks of New York"; and visited the La Plata Natural History Museum during his first official trip to the capital of Buenos Aires Province. La Plata's universities are the second largest employer after government and have an influencial role in local policy making. END SUMMARY.

GOVERNOR DANIEL SCIOLI ----------------------

ۦ2. (SBU) Scioli said he was looking to develop agreements with other countries' states and provinces facing similar challenges in generating jobs, protecting the environment, improving education. The Ambassador agreed that international relations were no longer the exclusive domain of national governments but increasingly involved a growing range of subnational actors. The Ambassador mentioned several state trade delegations coming soon to Argentina, including missions from Alabama, Florida, and Texas.

ۦ3. (SBU) Scioli expressed great interest in the U.S. elections and said he had attended Democrat and Republican conventions. As on previous occasions, Scioli stressed to us his admiration and sympathy for the U.S., claiming these feelings dated back to his first job as a Frigidaire salesman. He noted that business and sports had taken him frequently to the U.S., and once he entered politics he continued looking to the U.S. for inspiration.

ۦ4. (SBU) Scioli, preoccupied throughout the lunch by the previous day's disappearance of human rights activist Juan Puthod (who reappeared several hours after the lunch ended), said he was struck on a recent visit to Miami by Mayor Manny Diaz's presentation on inroads they had made against crime, and he was particularly impressed by the importance that Police Chief John Timoney gave to rebuilding the trust and confidence of citizens to gain their cooperation and participation in stopping crime. The Ambassador noted that Baltimore had also made dramatic strides in curbing violent crime and offered embassy assistance to identify best practices and lessons learned there.

ۦ5. (SBU) Scioli's brother Jose Antonio, the Secretary General for the provincial government, summoned some statistics to show the Ambassador what the Scioli administration's law enforcement had accomplished in the first four months of government with tips provided by citizens calling in to a new, well-advertised hotline. They had recovered 15,000 stolen vehicles, confiscated over 5,000 unregistered weapons, seized 159 kg of cocaine and 1,612 kg of marijuana, leading to 7,864 arrests.

ۦ6. (SBU) Scioli noted his strong interest in improving highway safety. He believed strongly in the utility of imposing heavier sanctions on infractions, greater enforcement, and new legislation to enhance vehicle registration and facilitate infrastructure improvements. The Ambassador noted California's positive results from higher fines as well as broader use of radar by highway patrols. The Ambassador also offered embassy assistance in seeking statistics and best practices from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the U.S. Department of Transportation.

ۦ7. (SBU) Scioli said investment promotion was high on his agenda, even though his province already produced 40% of Argentina's GDP. His government had recently enacted new incentives to attract investment, and he was looking for public-private partnerships in strategic areas such as the ports. The Ambassador pointed out that AES and other energy generators and distributors were balking at additional investment until tariffs were adjusted. Scioli said he was impressed by the diversity of U.S. investments in Buenos Aires province, and he was pleased by recent news of R.C. Johnson & Son's intention to invest $65 million in an aerosol production plant in Buenos Aires. He spoke of assistance from the Gates Foundation, agreed in Miami recently, in developing the province's e-government capacity, including a team that was arriving to install free software in the health ministry for the management of medication supplies. Scioli expressed interest in attracting foreign investment to develop tourist infrastructure. He also asked for assistance in identifying U.S. companies that could help the province tackle its growing garbage problem, particularly with waste treatment and incineration.

SCHOOL VISIT & BOOK DONATION ----------------------------

ۦ8. (U) The Ambassador was warmly welcomed by students wearing colonial period costumes and a cannon salute on his visit to Colegio San Vicente de Paul School, a private Catholic school serving disadvantaged children in La Plata. The Ambassador met with dozens of school children, visited a woodworking and metal workshop, and made a book donation to the school's library. The school complex has five schools, including a kindergarden, primary, secondary and technical schools and together has 2,500 students, most of whom are poor children from the neighboring community. The school also provides free meals to over 1,000 children daily through its "comedor" or kitchen meals program.

LA PLATA - A UNIVERSITY TOWN WITH A GREAT MUSEUM --------------------------------------------- ---

ۦ9. (SBU) The Ambassador met with two university leaders and visited the La Plata Natural History Museum where he discussed expanding exchange opportunities between the United States and Argentina, intellectual property and scientific advances. University Nacional de La Plata's (UNLP) Vice Rector Raul Anibal Perdomo and UNLP's Museum of Natural History Director Dr. Silvia Ametrano hosted the Ambassador and gave a brief private tour of the university's museum which is currently closed for repairs. The UNLP is a leading educational institution and currently has over 75,000 students (Note: Current Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and former President Nestor Kirchner are former alumni at this liberal institution, the third largest in Argentina. The meeting was held in the museum instead of the main campus). Both Perdomo and Ametrano noted that UNLP has strong scientist-to-scientist exchange programs with museums and other institutions worldwide, including the Smithsonian, but specifically requested the Embassy's assistance in securing intellectual property rights training for its museum staff. Ametrano noted that the museum needs help in registering its collection, exhibits and replicas, and has sought UNESCO assistance in this endeavor. The museum's varied collections are vast, and include one of the largest collections of dinosaur reproductions in the world.

ۦ10. (U) Next to UNLP, the Universidad Catolica de La Plata (UCALP) is La Plata's second largest university and the Ambassador met with UCALP Rector Rafeal Breide Obeid to discuss the university's curriculum, the U.S. Speaker Program, and cultural exchanges. The Ambassador also answered questions about the state of Argentine-American relations, anti-American perceptions in Argentina and U.S. foreign policy with students from UCALP's Institute of Argentine-North American studies (CESPAN). CESPAN was created in November 2006 to reach out to post-graduate students in an attempt to provide them with information about U.S-Argentine relations and to develop deeper social ties with academic and cultural institutions. The students were critical of U.S. foreign policy but were well aware of the ambassador's and Mission's programs to change the negative perceptions of Argentines about the United States through outreach, community engagement, and increasing the number of exchanges between the two countries.

ART EXHIBIT & MEETING WITH LA PLATA MAYOR -----------------------------------------

ۦ11. (U) The Ambassador opened an Embassy-sponsored photo exhibit titled "Landmarks of New York" in the Darda Rocha Cultural Center which was attended by many of the city's dignitaries, including mayor Pablo Bruera. A lawyer by training, Bruera was previously a Provincial legislator before being elected mayor of La Plata in Fall ۦ2007. In his meeting with the Ambassador, Bruera stated that the city is having tremendous difficulties in disposing of provincial garbage due to the closure of several garbage dumps but noted that he recently returned from Boston where he met with city officials and visited a U.S. recycling plant. Bruere had participated in a several week program for young leaders at Harvard's JFK School. He also mentioned that the city's problems included a lack of public transportation and security for its citizens, but he was optimistic that the city's garbage woes could be resolved without giving specific details. The Ambassador closed the meeting by stressing the importance of increasing cooperation through cultural exchanges and offer

We also wrote about Argentina early this morning. Separately, we showed how Gates was milking Argentina for patent money. Just PR and profit, that's what it's all about. Attack on the competition (Free/libre software) is a bonus. They wish to pretend to donate (to make more sales) and Apple intends to try that one too. Apple could really use some PR after its militant behaviour, which has just come under police investigation and had Conan O’Brien make a lot fun.

“Samsung spends 6.5% of sales on R&D. Apple spends 2.2%,” points out this analyst, but Apple keeps trying to block this Linux-based competition from Korea.

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