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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06BRIDGETOWN368
2006-02-27 20:09:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Bridgetown
Cable title:  

VENEZUELA AND CUBA INCREASE AID AND COOPERATION IN

Tags:   PGOV  PINR  PREL  EAID  CU  DO  VE  VC  XL 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXYZ0014
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHWN #0368/01 0582009
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 272009Z FEB 06
FM AMEMBASSY BRIDGETOWN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1987
INFO RUCNCOM/EC CARICOM COLLECTIVE
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 1391
RUMIAAA/HQ USSOUTHCOM J2 MIAMI FL
RUMIAAA/HQ USSOUTHCOM J5 MIAMI FL
RUEHCV/USDAO CARACAS VE
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0055
						C O N F I D E N T I A L BRIDGETOWN 000368 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

SOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/03/2016
TAGS: PGOV PINR PREL EAID CU DO VE VC XL
SUBJECT: VENEZUELA AND CUBA INCREASE AID AND COOPERATION IN
DOMINICA

REF: A. HAVANA 118


B. 05 BRIDGETOWN 1954

C. 05 BRIDGETOWN 1867

D. 05 BRIDGETOWN 625

Classified By: DCM Mary Ellen T. Gilroy for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).



1. (C) Summary: Venezuela and Cuba recently stepped up their
assistance to Dominica by providing funding for various
development projects and sending their citizens, including
military personnel, to the small island-state. A project to
expand Dominica's main airport has been partly funded by
Venezuela and aided by a small construction contingent from
the Venezuelan army, which will soon be augmented by the
arrival of Cuban personnel. Cuba also provided funding and
teachers to help Dominica begin a nursing training program
that was opened in February. Meanwhile, Dominica Prime
Minister Roosevelt Skerrit departed for Havana on February 23
to discuss additional Cuban aid for his country. In addition
to demonstrating Dominica's continuing reliance on
international assistance, the expanded Cuban and Venezuelan
aid reflects these countries' efforts to remain active in the
Eastern Caribbean and what appears to be a trend toward their
cooperation in the region. End summary.



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


Venezuela and Cuba Assist Airport Project


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





2. (U) The Government of Dominica reported in February that
the expansion of the country's main airport, Melville Hall,
was progressing thanks in part to the assistance of the
Government of Venezuela, which provided funding for the
project plus 41 army personnel for construction work. The
Venezuelan troops spent the past few weeks clearing an area
of forest, building earthworks and diverting a small river to
allow for the expansion of the existing runway. Dominica
also announced that 11 Cubans are expected to arrive to
augment the Venezuelan army contingent. Reaction in Dominica
to the presence of the Venezuelans has been for the most part
positive, with the exception of some grumbling over a sign
erected by the soldiers that proclaims their encampment near
the airport to be a Venezuelan military facility.



3. (U) In addition to providing in-kind assistance to
Dominica, Venezuela gave a US$10 million grant to pay for
construction of the expanded runway and the installation of
lights and navigational aids (ref D). This work will be
undertaken by a contractor after the Venezuelan and Cuban
construction contingent finishes preparing the site. The
other aspect of the airport expansion program, construction
of a new terminal and related facilities, is being funded by
a US$14.9 million grant from the European Union. Scheduled
for completion in 2008, the airport project is seen as key
element in Dominica's effort to expand its tourism industry.



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


Cuban Medical Assistance


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





4. (U) In February, the Governments of Dominica and Cuba
officially launched a program to train up to 100 new
Dominican nurses annually. This capacity building should
help the country cope with a shortage of trained nurses,
replacing those who have left for higher salaries in the U.S.
and Canada. As part of the program, Cuba is providing
Dominica with 23 medical lecturers over the next
two-and-a-half years and US$450,000 to renovate the existing
nursing school. During the opening ceremony for the program,
Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit recognized Cuba for
its ongoing assistance and thanked the Cuban people for
"their hard work for humanity." Just days later, he departed
for Havana to discuss with the Cuban Government additional
aid for health care, housing, and agriculture. (Note:
Dominica is a regular recipient of Cuban medical aid. The
country typically has Cuban doctors working at its hospitals
and took part in Cuba's program that provided free eye care
and surgery to people throughout the Eastern Caribbean in
2005 (ref B). End note.)



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


Comment


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





5. (C) Considering Dominica's small size and its Prime
Minister's lack of political clout in the Caribbean,
Venezuela and Cuba are lavishing a great deal of attention on
the island. This may be because they know that despite the
successful implementation of an IMF economic stabilization
program, Dominica remains among the most economically
troubled nations in the region and has the greatest need for
such assistance. As a result, PM Skerrit is unlikely to risk
offending these benefactors by criticizing either Venezuela
or Cuba in international fora.



6. (C) Venezuelan and Cuban cooperation on Dominica's airport
expansion project appears to be part of a trend toward joint
assistance projects in the region. St. Vincent and the
Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves announced in 2005
that Venezuela and Cuba would work together on the
development of a new airport in his country, where they will
carry out construction work worth an estimated US$10 million
(ref C). These cooperative projects may be an element of the
intensifying relationship between Cuba and Venezuela reported
recently by USINT Havana (ref A), an "axis of mischief" that
includes several of the small island-states in the Eastern
Caribbean.
KRAMER