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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
04CARACAS2158
2004-07-06 11:53:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Caracas
Cable title:  

OPPOSITION RANK-AND-FILE ATTACK CHAVISTAS

Tags:  PGOV PHUM VE 
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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 SECTION 01 OF 02 CARACAS 002158 

SIPDIS


NSC FOR CBARTON
HQ USSOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD
USAID DCHA/OTI FOR RPORTER

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/25/2014
TAGS: PGOV PHUM VE
SUBJECT: OPPOSITION RANK-AND-FILE ATTACK CHAVISTAS


CLASSIFIED BY: POLITICAL COUNSELOR MARK WELLS FOR REASONS 1.4 (D)

-------
SUMMARY
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1. (C) A GROUP OF OPPOSITION SUPPORTERS ATTACKED A
PRO-CHAVEZ COMANDO MAISANTA CAMPAIGN TEAM IN THE WEALTHY ALTO
PRADO AREA OF CARACAS ON JUNE 27. A STATE TELEVISION REPORTER
WAS THROWN TO THE GROUND, AND A CHAVEZ CAMPAIGN WORKER WAS
HIT IN THE HEAD AND LEFT BLEEDING. THE INCIDENT IS BEING USED
BY PRO-CHAVEZ MEDIA, AND BY PRESIDENT CHAVEZ HIMSELF, TO
PORTRAY THE OPPOSITION AS VIOLENT AND UNBALANCED. SOME
OPPOSITION POLITICIANS AND JOURNALISTS HAVE BLAMED THE
CHAVISTAS FOR THE ATTACK, CALLING THE ATTEMPT TO ESTABLISH
THEMSELVES IN AN OPPOSITION NEIGHBORHOOD A PROVOCATION. THE
MEDIA HAS BEEN MIXED, WITH SOME OPPOSITION PAPERS STRONGLY
CONDEMNING THE ATTACK AS A SIGN OF INTOLERANCE. SEVERAL
OPPOSITION POLITICIANS HAVE EXPRESSED CONCERN IN MEETINGS
WITH POLOFFS RECENTLY ABOUT THE POTENTIAL FOR ACTS OF
VIOLENCE BY OPPOSITION SUPPORTERS IN THE EVENT CHAVEZ IS
REVOKED. END SUMMARY.



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VIOLENCE IN ALTO PRADO


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2. (U) A GROUP OF OPPOSITION SUPPORTERS ATTACKED A GROUP OF
CHAVEZ CAMPAIGN WORKERS WHEN THEY TRIED TO MOUNT A BOOTH FOR
THE COMANDO MAISANTA (CHAVEZ' CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE) IN THE
WEALTHY ALTO PRADO AREA OF CARACAS ON JUNE 27. A REPORTER
FROM VENEZUELAN DE TELEVISION (VTV), THE GOVERNMENT STATION,
WAS THROWN TO THE GROUND, ONE OF THE CHAVISTA CAMPAIGN
WORKERS WAS LEFT BLEEDING FROM THE HEAD, AND AN ANGLICAN
PRIEST PARTICIPATING IN THE EVENT HAD TO BE LED AWAY BY THE
LOCAL POLICE FOR HIS OWN PROTECTION. THE CHAVEZ SUPPORTERS
ATTEMPTED TO SET UP A CAMPAIGN TENT IN A PUBLIC PARK, WITHOUT
THE REQUIRED PERMITS ACCORDING TO LOCAL AUTHORITIES. THERE
ARE UNCONFIRMED REPORTS THAT THE CHAVISTAS WERE PLAYING LOAD
MUSIC, TRYING TO HARASS DRIVERS, AND THROWING ROCKS AT CARS,
CAUSING A CROWD TO FORM. OTHER REPORTS, HOWEVER, INDICATE THE
PEOPLE FROM THE NEIGHBORHOOD REACTED TO THE PRESENCE OF THE
CHAVISTAS IN A HOSTILE MANNER IMMEDIATELY.



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CHAVISTA REACTION


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





3. (U) CHAVEZ SUPPORTERS PORTRAYED THE OPPOSITION AS
VIOLENT, FASCIST, RACIST, AND IRRATIONAL. PRESIDENT CHAVEZ,
ON HIS "ALO, PRESIDENTE!" PROGRAM, ASKED GOD TO FORGIVE THE
OPPOSITION, SAYING "LORD, FORGIVE THEM, FOR THEY KNOW NOT
WHAT THEY DO." CHAVEZ BLAMED THE PRIVATE MEDIA FOR "PUTTING
THE DEVIL INSIDE PEOPLE, DRIVING THEM MAD." CHAVEZ INSIDER
AND MIRANDA STATE GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE DIOSDADO CABELLO
TOLD SUPPORTERS JUNE 30 THAT ONE DAY OF RULE BY THE
OPPOSITION WOULD RESEMBLE THE EVENTS OF APRIL, 2002:
VIOLENCE, DISAPPEARANCES, AND REVENGE. THE ALTO PRADO
INCIDENT OCCURRED ON THE DAY OF THE PRESS, AND THE CHAVISTA
PRESS CONDEMNED THE FAILURE OF THE OPPOSITION TO RESPECT THE
PRO-GOV PRESS. A PROSECUTOR WAS ASSIGNED TO THE CASE OF
ROMELIA MATUTE, THE VTV REPORTER THROWN TO THE GROUND, AND
SHE WAS GIVEN TWO POLICE ESCORTS TO PROTECT HER, BECAUSE SHE
LIVES IN ALTO PRADO. IT IS POSSIBLE THERE WILL BE ARRESTS IN
THE CASE.



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


OPPOSITION


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





4. (U) THE REACTION OF THE OPPOSITION HAS BEEN MIXED.
NATIONAL ASSEMBLY (NA) DEPUTY GERARDO BLYDE (PRIMERO
JUSTICIA) AND EL UNIVERSAL COLUMNIST ROBERTO GUISTI CONDEMNED
THE CHAVISTAS FOR PROVOKING THE VIOLENCE, AND RECALLED
PREVIOUS ACTS OF VIOLENCE BY CHAVISTAS AGAINST THE
OPPOSITION. MOST OPPOSITION POLITICAL LEADERS HAVE NOT
COMMENTED ON THE INCIDENT. THE HUMAN RIGHTS GROUP PROVEA
CALLED THE ATTACK "PROFOUNDLY IRRATIONAL," WHILE TEODORO

CARACAS 00002158 002 OF 002

IOLENT. EL GLOBO HARSHLY
ATTACKED THOSE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE VIOLENCE, CALLING IT
"UNACCEPTABLE," "INFANTILE," AND "A FLAGRANT VIOLATION OF THE
DEMOCRATIC SPIRIT." OTHER OPPOSITION PAPERS HAVE MADE NO
EDITORIAL COMMENT, AND SOME HAVE NOT GIVEN THE INCIDENT MUCH
COVERAGE.



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WHAT LIES BENEATH


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5. (C) NA DEPUTY PASTOR HEYDRA (ACCION DEMOCRATICA) TOLD
POLOFF ON JUNE 28 THAT HE WAS WORRIED ABOUT THE POSSIBILITY
OF VIOLENCE ON THE PART OF OPPOSITION SUPPORTERS IN THE EVENT
CHAVEZ IS REVOKED. HE SAID THAT THE OPPOSITION IS POWERED BY
LOCAL ORGANIZATIONS AND NGOS, WHICH ARE OFTEN MORE RADICAL IN
THEIR ANTI-CHAVISMO THAN THE OPPOSITION POLITICAL PARTIES. HE
SAID THE CD IS NOT GETTING ITS MESSAGE OUT ABOUT
RECONCILIATION AND UNITY BECAUSE MUCH OF THE OPPOSITION'S
SUPPORTERS REJECT IT. NA DEPUTY ERNESTO ALVARENGA
(SOLIDARIDAD) TOLD POLOFF JUNE 16 THAT HE WAS CONCERNED THAT
THE OPPOSITION DID NOT TRULY ACCEPT EX-CHAVISTAS, AND THAT
THE FEAR AMONG CHAVEZ SUPPORTERS OF A WAVE OF REPRESSION
AGAINST THEM SHOULD CHAVEZ BE REVOKED WAS NOT UNFOUNDED.



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COMMENT


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





6. (C) THIS INCIDENT IS A REMINDER THAT OPPOSITION
RANK-AND-FILE ARE ALSO CAPABLE OF VIOLENCE, THOUGH CHAVISTA
VIOLENCE AGAINST THE OPPOSITION HAS BEEN STRONGER AND MORE
FREQUENT (E.G., THE JUNE 3 BEATING OF CONGRESSMAN RAFAEL
MARIN -- WHICH PUT HIM IN INTENSIVE CARE -- AND GUNSHOTS
FIRED THAT DAY MEDIA OFFICES AND THE CARACAS MAYOR'S OFFICE),
. IT IS POSSIBLE THE ALTO PRADO PRO-CHAVEZ PRESENCE WAS
INITIATED WITH THE HOPE THE ANTI-CHAVEZ NEIGHBORHOOD WOULD
REACT EMOTIONALLY AND VIOLENTLY TO THE CAMPAIGN WORKERS. WE
CAN PROBABLY EXPECT THE CHAVISTAS TO TRY TO REPLICATE THE
INCIDENT. CHAVEZ WANTS TO PAINT THE OPPOSITION AS PRONE TO
VIOLENCE AND REVENGE, THEREBY CREATING FEAR FOR WHAT WOULD
COME SHOULD CHAVEZ BE REVOKED. THIS WILL COMPLICATE THE
COORDINADORA DEMOCRATICA'S EFFORTS TO CLAIM THEY ARE FOR
UNITY AND RECONCILIATION.
SHAPIRO

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2004CARACA02158 - CONFIDENTIAL