wikileaks ico  Home papers ico  Cables mirror and Afghan War Diary privacy policy Privacy
Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
04CARACAS1247
2004-04-12 21:12:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Caracas
Cable title:  

REVALIDATING THE SIGNATURES -- VOICES OF DISSENT

Tags:  PGOV KDEM VE 
pdf how-to read a cable
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
						C O N F I D E N T I A L  CARACAS 001247 

SIPDIS


NSC FOR CBARTON
USCINCSO ALSO FOR POLAD
STATE PASS USAID DCHA/OTI FOR RPORTER

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/02/2014
TAGS: PGOV KDEM VE
SUBJECT: REVALIDATING THE SIGNATURES -- VOICES OF DISSENT

REF: CARACAS 00945

Classified By: Abelardo A. Arias, Political Counselor, for reasons 1.4
(B) and (D)

-------
Summary
-------



1. (C) The Coordinadora Democratica (CD) has pressed forward,
negotiating with the National Electoral Council (CNE) a
process for verifying petition signatures for a presidential
recall referendum (CNE Director Jorge Rodriguez announced
April 6 that the sides were close to agreement). There are
dissident voices among the Chavez opponents, chief among them
Proyecto Venezuela, which has taken a hard line against
negotiations. Many CD party leaders privately object to
pushing for an appeals process, viewing it as a means for
Chavez to legitimize his rule with the opposition's tacit
endorsement, though they insist, paradoxically, that a
referendum is the only way to solve Venezuela's crisis. End
Summary.



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



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


People Will Blame CD for Inevitable Reparo Failure


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



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





2. (C) Gente de Pueblo (GP) strategist and pollster Shelby
Cabezas believes the appeals process (reparo) for the
signatures presented to petition for a presidential recall
referendum will fail and bring anyone endorsing the process
down with it. Cabezas claimed his polling information
indicates that the broad opposition umbrella group
Coordinadora Democratica (CD) is losing popular support in
lockstep with the "Chavez controlled" CNE. He claimed
private polling data from mid-March showed 48 percent of the
public had no faith in the CNE and 45 percent had no faith in
the CD (down 20 percent since mid-February).



3. (C) Cabezas postulated that the CD is increasingly viewed
as collaborating in a sham process that will result in the
legitimization of the Chavez regime. Cabezas claimed
negotiating for political objective, such as currying
international support or obtaining favorable terms for
regional elections, are lost on the "common people." He
asserted that the public is losing confidence in CD
leadership, and "when August comes and there is still no
recall, people will be mad not at Chavez, but at the CD."
Henrique Salas Romer, he told poloff, will appear sage-like
in the aftermath and his Proyecto Venezuela (PV) party will
reap the electoral rewards. Salas' support has risen 12
percent following his decision not to negotiate, according to
Cabezas, who speculated that Alianza Bravo Pueblo, Primero
Justicia, and small movements like GP will eventually abandon
the reparo process.



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


Proyecto Venezuela: Reparo is a Trap


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





4. (C) Proyecto Venezuela Deputy Pedro Diaz Blum told poloff
March 17 that PV's hard line against negotiating the appeals
is risky, but he believes they will be justified when the
process is revealed as a trap. He asserted that, based on
figures released by the CNE March 2, the opposition would
need a 70 percent turnout to trigger a recall referendum,
"impossible in any electoral event." He criticized the OAS
for continuing negotiations "after they admitted the process
was fraudulent," legitimizing Chavez and delegitimizing
themselves.



5. (C) Diaz Blum lambasted the CD for cutting PV out of
previous negotiations and claimed it exists to promote
Miranda Governor Enrique Mendoza's presidential aspirations.
He asserted that criticism that PV's intransigence is hurting
the CD's negotiating strength is overblown. Just because PV
wants to distance itself from old, discredited political
parties and does not endorse Mendoza, Diaz Blum explained,
does not mean it will stop working with the CD to get rid of
Chavez.



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


Construyendo Pais: Going Along, For Now



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





6. (C) National Assembly Deputy Leopoldo Martinez
(Construyendo Pais) told poloff March 10 he did not want to
endorse the appeals process, but he does not want to destroy
the CD either, as he claimed Salas Romer was trying to do.
Staying in negotiations may be the only game in town,
Martinez explained, but it is not without a cost: the
confidence of the people. The CD, he said, risks giving
Chavez legitimacy if it blunders the appeals. Martinez also
suspected CD leaders might be using the negotiations to angle
for favorable conditions for regional elections.



7. (C) Martinez lamented that CD leaders fail to understand
that Chavez wants the appeals process to "prove" the
signatures are fakes and legitimize his rule. He claimed
pressure on signers to recant by screening them for GOV
employment and benefits is working (ref). As people
increasing view the recall as futile, Martinez postulated,
they may decide not to risk publicly demonstrating their
opposition to Chavez. He said Chavistas are also hoping to
invalidate some 400,000 approved signatures by pressuring GOV
employees, job applicants, and beneficiaries.



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


Primero Justicia Divided Over Appeals Process


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





8. (C) National Assembly Deputy Carlos Ocariz told poloff
April 1 that the appeals process has created ruptures in PJ
between those who want to quit negotiating and those, like
himself, who view continued negotiations as the only way to
expose the GOV's "fraudulent CNE." Ocariz admitted that a
failed appeals process might make negotiators "guilty by
association" with the CNE, but walking away, he asserted,
would only cede legitimacy to Chavez, who would claim the
opposition rejected a reasonable, legal process. "This may
be a trap we have to walk into."



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


Un Solo Pueblo: CD Unity Trumps Reparo Doubts


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





9. (C) Un Solo Pueblo Media Director Adriana Sanoja told
poloff March 26 that although USP has little doubt the
appeals process will fail, it is going along with
negotiations. She said Salas Romer invited USP and other CD
members to a meeting to gain support for a hard line against
the appeals process. Sanoja claimed the effort backfired and
helped unify them, albeit grudgingly, behind the negotiation
strategy. "He wants to kill the CD, we can't be part of
this," she said.



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


Comment


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





10. (C) We continue to promote negotiations to reach
agreement on an appeals process with both opposition and GOV
contacts, although we remain aware of the undercurrents
opposed to doing so. While many opposition voices have
condemned Salas Romer's refusal to negotiate, other voices in
the CD correctly point out that embracing negotiation is also
not without risks. Negotiation proponents in the CD will
need to better explain their strategy, particularly to the
"common people" that Cabezas accuses of not comprehending the
finer points of negotiation, if they want to ensure the
highest possible participation when, and if, an agreement to
go forward is reached.
SHAPIRO


NNNN

2004CARACA01247 - CONFIDENTIAL