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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
03VATICAN105
2003-01-10 16:27:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Vatican
Cable title:  

SUPPORTING OAS SYG GAVIRIAS' MISSION: VATICAN

Tags:  PREL PGOV KDEM VE VT VTPREL 
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 VATICAN 000105 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/07/2013
TAGS: PREL PGOV KDEM VE PGOV KDEM VE VT VTPREL
SUBJECT: SUPPORTING OAS SYG GAVIRIAS' MISSION: VATICAN
SEEKS TO AVOID POLARIZATION AND VIOLENCE

REF: A) 02STATE 268741 B) 02VATICAN 5607

CLASSIFIED BY: POLOFF GEORGE FROWICK, REASON EO 12958 1.5 B,D



1. (C) SUMMARY: VATICAN COUNTRY DIRECTOR FOR CARIBBEAN
STATES MONS. GIORGIO LINGUA TOLD POLOFF JANUARY 7 THAT THE
HOLY SEE'S MAIN CONCERN IN VENEZUELA IS TO SEE TENSIONS
REDUCED AND THE PARTIES WORKING TOWARDS AN AUGUST 2003
REFERENDUM, AS PERMITTED BY THE VENEZUELAN CONSTITUTION. THE
VENEZUELAN BISHOPS CONFERENCE'S DECEMBER 2002 STATEMENT
CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 02 VATICA 00105 01 OF 02 101650Z
SUGGESTS THAT THE CHURCH IN VENEZUELA, AFTER THE SHOOTINGS ON
PLAYA FRANCIA DE ALTAMYRA, IS PULLING BACK ITS PREVIOUS
STRONG SUPPORT FOR THE OPPOSITION IN ORDER TO HELP AVOID A
VIOLENT DENOUEMENT. THE HOLY SEE IS OPEN TO A "FRIENDS OF
VENEZUELA" PROCESS ONLY IF IT IS MADE A PART OF GAVIRIAS'
BRIEF (ASSUMING THAT LULA DA SILVA WOULD HAVE A MODERATING
EFFECT ON CHAVEZ). LINGUA WAS UNSURE WHETHER THE HOLY SEE
WOULD URGE THE PARTIES TO ASK GAVIRIAS TO TABLE A CONCRETE
PROPOSAL. WHILE THE HOLY SEE APPEARS TO BE IN CLOSE CONTACT
WITH BOTH THE VENEZUELAN BISHOPS AND ITS NUNCIO, ITS ABILITY
TO EXERCISE CONTROL OVER THEIR POSITIONS IS LIMITED. EMBASSY
CARACAS MAY WISH TO WORK WITH PAPAL NUNCIO DUPUY IN ADVANCE
OF HIS ANNUAL GREETING TO PRESIDENT CHAVEZ AS DEAN OF THE
DIPLOMATIC CORPS, TO MAKE SURE HE IS ON MESSAGE. END SUMMARY.



2. (C) POLOFF SHARED REF A POINTS ON THE VENEZUELAN CRISIS
JANUARY 8 WITH VATICAN CARIBBEAN AFFAIRS DIRECTOR MONS.
GIORGIO LINGUA. LINGUA SAID THE HOLY SEE'S WAS VERY
CONCERNED AT THE INCREASE IN CIVIL STRIFE SINCE WE LAST SPOKE
(REF B). HE INDICATED THE VENEZUELAN BISHOPS CONFERENCE'S
DECEMBER 2002 STATEMENT SHOWED THAT THE CHURCH, AFTER THE
SHOOTINGS ON PLAYA FRANCIA DE ALTAMYRA, WAS BACKING AWAY FROM
ITS PREVIOUS STRONG AND OPEN SUPPORT FOR THE OPPOSITION.
LANGUAGE IN THAT STATEMENT WHICH HIGHLIGHTED THE CONTINUED
SUFFERING OF VENEZUELA'S POOREST, HOWEVER, WAS NOT AN ATTEMPT
TO BUILD BRIDGES TO CHAVEZ. RATHER, ACCORDING TO LINGUA, IT
INDICATED THE BISHOPS WERE TRYING TO ATTRACT CHAVEZ
SUPPORTERS AWAY FROM THE PRESIDENT. INDEED THE STATEMENT
CALLED ON MEDIA, THE GOVERNMENT AND SECURITY FORCES TO AVOID
INFLAMING THE SITUATION. IT EXHORTED THE GOVERNMENT TO
ENSURE HUMAN RIGHTS AND ESCHEW "STANDING ON LEGALISMS AND
CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 03 VATICA 00105 01 OF 02 101650Z
POLITICAL STRATEGIES" THAT THREATEN THE SOCIAL FABRIC. THE
HOLY SEE REMAINS FEARFUL THAT, IN THE BISHOPS' WORDS, A
VIOLENT "SOCIAL FRACTURE" REMAINS A GREATER POSSIBILITY TODAY
THAN IT WAS BEFORE THE GENERAL STRIKE. YET THE HOLY SEE HAS
NO PLANS AT THIS TIME ACTIVELY TO ENGAGE IN THE DIALOGUE.
LINGUA REITERATED HIS MESSAGE FROM REF B, THAT THE HOLY SEE
HOPED ALL PARTIES WOULD CALM DOWN AND ORGANIZE POLITICALLY TO
CONTEST A REFERENDUM ON THE CHAVEZ PRESIDENCY IN AUGUST OF
THIS YEAR, AS IS PERMITTED IN THE VENEZUELAN CONSTITUTION.
LINGUA OPINED THAT CHAVEZ WAS LOSING SUPPORT AS THE STRIKE
PROCEEDED (EVEN AS THE STRIKE APPEARED TO BE WINDING DOWN),
AND THAT OVER THE TIME BETWEEN NOW AND AUGUST THE
OPPOSITION'S ABILITY TO CARRY THE REFERENDUM WOULD GROW.



3. (C) LINGUA SAID THE VATICAN WAS OPEN TO A "FRIENDS OF
VENEZUELA" PROCESS ONLY IF IT WAS MADE A PART OF GAVIRIAS'
BRIEF, BUT WOULD NOT WISH TO SEE A FRIENDS GROUP IF IT
COMPETED (AND THUS DISTRACTED) FROM THE OAS ENVOY'S WORK. HE
BELIEVED THAT BRAZILIAN PRESIDENT LULA DA SILVA MIGHT BE ABLE
TO EXERCISE A MODERATING INFLUENCE ON CHAVEZ. LINGUA WAS
UNSURE WHETHER THE HOLY SEE WOULD ISSUE A PUBLIC CALL TO
SUPPORT GAVIRIAS' WORK. HE WAS ALSO NONCOMMITTAL ABOUT HOLY
SEE ENGAGEMENT IN THE PLAN TO HAVE GAVIRIAS TABLE A CONCRETE
PLAN AROUND WHICH THE PARTIES COULD BEGIN DIALOGUE.



4. (SBU) ASKED WHETHER PAPAL NUNCIO DUPUY WOULD GREET
PRESIDENT CHAVEZ AGAIN THIS YEAR AS DEAN OF THE DIPLOMATIC
CORPS, LINGUA SAID HE HADN'T YET HEARD. HE SPECULATED THAT
THE ANNUAL MEETING MIGHT BE POSTPONED THIS YEAR, GIVEN THE
SITUATION ON THE STREETS. LINGUA WRYLY NOTED THAT IF THE
NUNCIO TRULY SPOKE HIS MIND AGAIN HE MIGHT BE PNG'D. (NOTE:
CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 04 VATICA 00105 01 OF 02 101650Z
SOME MAY RECALL THAT DUPUY'S URGING OF CHAVEZ IN REMARKS LAST
JANUARY TO MAKE SPACE FOR THE OPPOSITION'S DEMANDS PROMPTED
FROM THE LATTER A VITUPERATIVE ATTACK ON THE CHURCH AS A
"PARASITE ON VENEZUELAN SOCIETY.") LINGUA TOLD US THAT
NUNCIOS USUALLY DRAFT THEIR ANNUAL REMARKS WITHOUT CLEARING
THEM WITH THE HOLY SEE, AND THAT THEY WOULD GENERALLY AIM FOR
REMARKS THAT REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE DIPLOMATIC CORPS AS
OPPOSED TO THOSE OF THE HOLY SEE.



5. (C) COMMENT: THE HOLY SEE IS FEARFUL THAT IF IT WERE TO
ENGAGE MORE ACTIVELY IN BRINGING THE VENEZUELAN PARTIES
TOGETHER, ITS OWN POOR RELATIONSHIP WITH THE CHAVEZ
ADMINISTRATION, EXEMPLIFIED IN CHAVEZ' REACTION TO THE
NUNCIO'S JANUARY 2002 COMMENTS, WOULD BE MADE EVEN WORSE.
THIS COULD HAVE UNPREDICTABLE CONSEQUENCES FOR THOSE CLERGY
AND FAITHFUL WHO SUPPORT THE OPPOSITION. LINGUA'S REACTIONS
SEEMED TO INDICATE THAT THE HOLY SEE IS NOT FULLY IN CONTROL
OF THE VENEZUELAN BISHOPS, NOR OF ITS OWN NUNCIO. WE WOULD
BE INTERESTED TO HEAR FROM EMBASSY CARACAS WHETHER THEY ARE
CONSULTING WITH DUPUY ON HIS REMARKS, IF ANY, AT THIS YEAR'S

CONFIDENTIAL

CONFIDENTIAL PTQ7464

PAGE 01 VATICA 00105 02 OF 02 101651Z
ACTION WHA-00

INFO LOG-00 NP-00 AMAD-00 CIAE-00 DODE-00 DS-00 EUR-00
VC-00 TEDE-00 INR-00 IO-00 LAB-01 VCE-00 AC-01
NSAE-00 OIC-02 ACE-00 DSCC-00 PRM-00 DRL-02 NFAT-00
SAS-00 /006W


--------------------------

234649 101651Z /38
P 101627Z JAN 03
FM AMEMBASSY VATICAN
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY
INFO EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY
USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 02 OF 02 VATICAN 000105

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/07/2013
TAGS: PREL PGOV KDEM VE PGOV KDEM VE VT VTPREL
SUBJECT: SUPPORTING OAS SYG GAVIRIAS' MISSION: VATICAN
SEEKS TO AVOID POLARIZATION AND VIOLENCE

PRESIDENTIAL ADDRESS TO THE DIPLOMATIC CORPS. FROM OUR
PERSPECTIVE, THOSE REMARKS COULD OFFER AN OPPORTUNITY TO
ENGAGE THE HOLY SEE ALONG THE LINES OF REF A INSTRUCTION.
EMBASSY VATICAN IS PREPARED TO PRESS HARDER, AND AT A HIGHER
LEVEL, IF WASHINGTON AND CARACAS BELIEVE HOLY SEE ENGAGEMENT
IN THE VENEZUELAN CONFLICT WOULD BE USEFUL.
NICHOLSON

CONFIDENTIAL

>


2003VATICA00105 - Classification: CONFIDENTIAL