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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
04CARACAS3624 2004-11-23 20:35:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Caracas
Cable title:  

AMBASSADOR'S VISIT TO MARACAY

Tags:   PGOV PREL 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  CARACAS 003624 

SIPDIS


NSC FOR CBARTON
USCINCSO ALSO FOR POLAD

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/22/2014
TAGS: PGOV PREL VE
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR'S VISIT TO MARACAY


Classified By: Abelardo A. Arias, Political Counselor, for Reason 1.4(d
)

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Summary
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1. (U) The Ambassador visited Maracay, Aragua State, November
16, 2004 and met with the president of the Aragua State
judges, the mayor, business leaders and the press. He also
stopped by an agricultural laboratory that receives U.S.
funding (despite the Ministry of Science and Technology
declining the request for a formal visit). During each
meeting and following press event, the Ambassador highlighted
previous U.S. assistance and the benefits it had produced for
Aragua State. He emphasized cooperation and progress in areas
where the U.S. and Venezuela coincided (energy, illegal
drugs, and terrorism). The Ambassador also said he hoped,
without altering fundamental USG positions of principle, to
reduce the tone and volume of the rhetoric in areas in which
the countries disagreed (democratic institutions, regional
politics, human rights, etc.). End Summary.



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The Players


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2. (U) The Ambassador visited Maracay, Aragua State, a
pro-Chavez agricultural state, November 16, 2004. He briefly
toured an agricultural research laboratory that receives U.S.
funding. The Ministry of Science and Technology had declined
the request for a formal visit. The Ambassador called on Dr.
Juan Ibarra, president of the Aragua State judicial circuit
and a former IV grantee. Ibarra explained the progress the
courts of Aragua had made as a direct result of U.S.
assistance (modernization, congruency of decisions, etc. and
said he was interested in increased cooperation, especially
in the courtroom management and logistics. The Ambassador
also met with former Army colonel Humberto Prieto, mayor of
Maracay (Movimiento Quinta Republica*MVR), and about 20
leaders of American and Venezuelan businesses, granting press
interviews after each. He then spoke with the boards of the
two leading newspapers, the centrist "El Aragueno"
(circulation 55,000) and the anti-Chavez "El Siglo,"
(circulation 75,000) agreeing to an interview at the latter.
Filippo Sindoni, President of "El Aragueno," confirmed
several business leaders' assertions that the economy in
Aragua State seems to be recovering.



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The Message and the Media


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3. (U) During each meeting and press event the Ambassador
highlighted previous U.S. assistance and the benefits it has
produced for Aragua State. He emphasized cooperation and
progress in areas where the U.S. and Venezuela coincided
(energy, illegal drugs, and terrorism), and said that while
the USG would maintain its principled positions, he hoped to
reduce the tone and volume of the rhetoric in areas in which
the countries disagreed (democratic institutions, regional
politics, human rights, etc.). Fielding questions the
Ambassador said Secretary Powell's resignation was in line
with cabinet changes that typically occur after the first
term; he praised Condoleezza Rice's nomination; and he
reiterated President Bush's commitment to Latin America and
the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA).



4. (U) Both "El Siglo" and "El Aragueno" featured front-page
coverage of the Ambassador's visit. There was also local
radio and regional television coverage. The message
concentrated on the benefits that relations with the United
States bring, reduced tone and volume of rhetoric, Secretary
Powell's resignation, and Condoleezza Rice's nomination. "El
Universal," the leading conservative newspaper, briefly
mentioned the Ambassador's comments on the latter.



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


Comment


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5. (C) The Ambassador's visit publicly highlighted the
people-to-people benefits a relationship with the United
States could bring in a traditionally pro-Chavez state. The
Ambassador's originally approved requests for a meeting with
Chavista Governor Didalco Bolivar and the visit to the

agricultural research laboratory partially sponsored by the
U.S. were both canceled at the last minute with improbable
explanations. The request to meet with Garrison Commander
General Gustavo Rangel Briceno went unanswered. The informal
call on the laboratory despite the Ministry of Science and
Technology declining showed that we would not be sidelined by
the GOV's attempt to limit Embassy access.
Brownfield


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2004CARACA03624 - CONFIDENTIAL