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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
05CARACAS1673 2005-06-03 19:13:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Caracas
Cable title:  

AMBASSADOR VISITS MIRANDA STATE

Tags:   PREL ENRG EAID 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.

031913Z Jun 05
					  UNCLAS  CARACAS 001673 

SIPDIS


STATE PASS USAID FOR DCHA/OTI
NSC FOR BARTON
USSOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL ENRG EAID VE
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR VISITS MIRANDA STATE


-------
Summary
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1. The Ambassador's visit to the central northern coastal
state of Miranda on April 20, 2005 included meetings with
the Governor, the Dean of the Andres Bello Catholic
University, the Electricity Plant of Caracas, as well as a
USAID funded NGO. Miranda is the state in which the nation's
capital, Caracas is located. Venezuela's financial,
commercial and service industry is concentrated in Miranda.
Miranda's economy depends on agriculture and metal, chemical
and food industries as well. The press interviewed the
Ambassador as he exited the Governor's office and covered
the visit to the USAID funded NGO. The Ambassador's visits
focused on maintaining positive U.S.-Venezuelan relations
and highlighting collaboration to different social programs.
End Summary



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


Political Climate


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




2. Miranda State Governor Diosdado Cabello, elected in
October 2004, formally received the Ambassador in his
office. The Ambassador's meeting with the Governor, a close
Chavez supporter, focused on maintaining the U.S.-Venezuelan
relations. The Ambassador told Cabello he hopes to achieve
this goal by traveling throughout Venezuela, a state at a
time to identify where U.S. aid may be needed. He stated
the U.S. is trying to find a pragmatic approach to confront
the differences between the two countries, and mentioned
Sino-U.S. relations as an example.



3. The Governor suggested the U.S. and Venezuela could
perhaps collaborate on the Luis Posada Carriles (Cuban
terrorist) extradition. The Ambassador said that one area
where both countries could collaborate is on the Colombian-
Venezuelan border. The drug trafficking and kidnapping
conducted by the FARC affects both countries, the Ambassador
said. The Ambassador also suggested the Venezuelan
government should show more transparency in its weapons
purchases.



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


Academic and Religious Institutions


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




4. Father Raul Biord Castillo, Dean of the Andres Bello
Catholic University received the Ambassador at the los
Teques campus. Biord is the nephew of Venezuelan Cardinal
Castillo Lara and holds a doctorate in Theology from the
Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. The Ambassador
asked Biord's help in identifying candidates for academic
exchanges such as the Fulbright program. Father Biord
discussed some of the programs run by his Salesian order.
He said the ones with the most need are programs for the
homeless and for tradecraft schools for junior and high
school dropouts. Biord noted the Catholic Church's
important role in raising the Venezuelan people's morale and
hopes as the country experiences a fragile sociopolitical
situation.



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


Business


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




5. The Ambassador visited an electrical generation facility
operated by Electricidad de Caracas (EDC). Though
originally founded in 1895, a majority of EDC's shares are
now held by the AES Corporation. EDC generates, transmits,
and distributes electricity to metropolitan Caracas. EDC
General Manager Evar Peterson acknowledged to the Ambassador
that the company faces a difficult situation because of the
GOV's failure to comply with electrical sector legislation
promulgated by the Chavez Administration in 2001. The
legislation was intended to foster more competition in the
sector by "unbundling" services and was supposed to be
effective by early 2004. In fact, however, the GOV has not
followed through, according to Peterson, and it appears as
if the government will continue to dominate the sector. He
said EDC suffered a 1.6 percent decrease in its operational
income in 2004. This loss was attributable at least in part
to the failure of the GOV to grant the appropriate tariff
adjustments. Peterson noted that EDC's fuel supplier,
Petroleos de Venezuela, had also recently increased the
rates charged to its industrial customers. In common with
other power companies in Latin America, EDC is also faced
with many non-paying customers.



6. In what Peterson described as a "sociological
experiment," EDC has proposed an innovative project to the
Ministry of Energy and Petroleum under which its customers
would be allowed to pre-pay set amounts of electricity
through the installation of pre-paid meters. EDC has
selected a community for this experiment, he said, and has
already done the work to upgrade the electrical
infrastructure and install the meters. The Ministry,
however, has yet to approve the necessary tariff, according
to Peterson. The Ambassador commended EDC for the
excellence of the service it provides and for its social
responsibility projects. He expressed interest in visiting
an EDC-funded school in the Los Teques region in the future.



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


Social Support


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




7. The Ambassador also visited a USAID funded NGO in the
Caracas borough of Petare. This very low-income area has
shown strong electoral support for President Chavez. He was
received by Amanda Dittmar de Troconis and Susan Sezille de
Mateo, President and Vice-President of the Organizacion
Social Catolica San Ignacio (OSCASI) which promotes the
development of "at risk" children through four training
institutions for children not enrolled in the formal
education system. The training institutions provide
alternative education for approximately 450 children and
youths between the ages of nine to eighteen who have been
excluded from formal education and require special
attention.



8. OSCASI helps train and equip these students to be able
to make a smooth transition into mainstream education or the
labor market. The program receives additional funding from
the Catholic Church, United Way, the Venezuelan Ministry of
Education and internal resources raised by the OSCASI staff.
USAID provided OSCASI with a grant of approximately $20,000
to support their work. The Ambassador addressed the
students, teachers, religious staff and media, emphasizing
the importance of education for the nation and community and
the church as being the organization that brings the two
together in the majority of countries in Latin America. He
also mentioned the students represent the future of
Venezuela as tomorrow's professionals.



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


Press Coverage


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




9. The press portrayed the U.S. Government in a positive
light and the Ambassador as its conduit to a humanistic
approach to U.S.-Venezuelan relations. The media indicated
the Ambassador was proud to represent a country which has
been a good neighbor to Venezuela for the past 200 hundred
years and hopes to continue to maintain its relations for
200 hundred more years.


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2005CARACA01673 - UNCLASSIFIED