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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06GEORGETOWN365
2006-04-21 14:21:00
UNCLASSIFIED
Embassy Georgetown
Cable title:  

Venezuela and the Caribbean

Tags:   PREL  PBTS  ECIN  EINV  EPET  EAID  XL  VE  GY 
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DE RUEHGE #0365/01 1111421
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TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3399
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INFO RUEHWH/WESTERN HEMISPHERIC AFFAIRS DIPL POSTS
RUMIAAA/HQ USSOUTHCOM J2 MIAMI FL
						UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 GEORGETOWN 000365 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PBTS ECIN EINV EPET EAID XL VE GY
SUBJECT: Venezuela and the Caribbean



1. Following is text of the editorial in today's Stabroek
News newspaper, Guyana's leading independent newspaper. The
editorial is a good reflection of the Guyanese thinking man's
view of Venezuela, Chavez, and the 160 year-old boundary
dispute.



2. BEGIN TEXT:

It was columnist Mr. Reggie Dumas writing in the Trinidad
Express earlier this week who reminded readers of Dr Eric
Williams's famous speech to the PNM in 1975 entitled 'The
threat to the Caribbean Community.' In an address which
sounds almost prophetic today, the late Prime Minister
described Venezuela's Caribbean vision and ambitions as
"starting off from barren, uninhabited rocks to a network of
economic arrangements out of which is emerging a Venezuelan
oil and industrial metropolis and an indebted Caribbean
hinterland, the Caribbean as we know it integrated into
Venezuela, the naval power of the future, the oil power of
the present, the tourist mecca in the making, its position in
its Venezuelan Sea fortified by its 200-mile exclusive
economic zone: all to the plaudits of the Caribbean people
themselves, with Trinidad and Tobago the odd man out."

There should be one qualification to this assessment. At the
time when Eric Williams said it, Trinidad and Tobago was not
the only odd man out; Guyana too was not in any doubt about
Venezuela's strategic objectives. The issue is, has anything
changed in Venezuela since that time to cause one to conclude
that Dr Williams's views no longer have applicability?
Certainly, where internal politics are concerned, President
Hugo Chavez has brought a revolutionary style to government
in Caracas; but what about foreign policy?


Where Guyana specifically is concerned, prior to his
accession to office President Chavez's pronouncements on the
border controversy were the most hawkish since the days of
President Herrera Campins in the early 1980s. Things did not
improve after he became head of state. President Jagdeo
landed up at a South American leaders' summit in Brasilia,
for example, to find his Venezuelan counterpart in full swing
with maps pinned up and pointer in hand belabouring the
international media on the subject of Venezuela's claim. On
October 3, 1999, the one hundredth anniversary of the Paris
award, Mr. Chavez - among other things - sent his warplanes
to violate Guyana's airspace, his officials proffering some
ludicrous excuse for the occurrence.

And then there was the case of the Beal spaceport proposal,
which was to be sited in the Waini and which Miraflores
vigorously opposed. Exactly how significant that opposition
was in helping to scuttle the deal, we shall probably never
know; however, in the case of the oil companies which were

granted exploratory concessions in Essequibo waters by the
Guyana Government, the situation is much clearer. Those which
were already working fields in Venezuela itself were left in
no doubt that if they did not relinquish their Guyanese
licences, it would have an impact on their Venezuelan
investments.

And then two years ago President Chavez breezed into
Georgetown for a 'love-fest,' all bonhomie, charm and seeming
generosity. He was thinking roads, not invasion, he told a
receptive Government of Guyana, and suggested he might be
open to allowing Essequibo to develop its resources. Since
then we have had PetroCaribe, more talk of a road linking
Caracas and Georgetown, and Mr. Chavez's version of the
Guyana Shield Project. So exactly which Hugo Chavez is the
real one?

On the matter of boundaries, it must be noted that the
government of our neighbour to the west has not seen fit to
withdraw its spurious claim to three-fifths of our land; and
while it might be argued that no Venezuelan head of state
could suddenly announce such a dramatic turnabout one bright
morning and still survive, one would expect a softening of
approach. But where allowing us free rein to develop our
Essequibo resources is concerned, then Foreign Minister Roy
Chaderton explained to the press following President Chavez's
visit here that things which would help communities develop,
such as water, agricultural programmes or electricity, would
not be opposed, but Venezuela would not tolerate any
multinationals developing hydrocarbon reserves, for example,
in Essequibo.


As for the first-named, Caracas has never opposed
electrification or water projects at the village level (large
hydropower schemes were a different matter), and where the
second is concerned, if our neighbour dictates what kind of

GEORGETOWN 00000365 002 OF 002


company can operate in our territory, exactly what has
changed? In this instance, Miraflores knows well that we have
no state entity capable of developing an oil and gas
industry, so is this just creating a possible opening to
bring in PdVSA to assist in due course, and perhaps
reintroduce a state capitalist element back into Guyana? And
make no mistake, PdVSA is not as autonomous as it was; it is
now an instrument of President Chavez's social and political
policies.

And there has been no change in Venezuela's irredentist
behaviour in relation to other Caribbean territories either.
President Chavez has been even more diligent in preferring
his country's claim to Bird Rock, for example, than were his
precedessors. Never mind that if that were declared to be
Venezuelan, several of our Caricom sister territories would
lose their EEZ. So much for Caracas's vaunted concern for the
poor and under-privileged. And it was Mr. Dumas who pointed
out that Venezuela still had not abandoned its claim either
to the Trinidadian islands of Monos, Huevos and Chacachacare.

And then we have PetroCaribe. Mr. Dumas, with the clinical
approach of someone whose country simply does not need
Venezuela's oil, has drawn attention to the small print. He
quotes the agreement, which says, "[w]ithin the framework of
PetroCaribe, state bodies shall be required to implement
energy-related operations. Venezuela offers technical
cooperation to support the creation of state agencies in
countries not possessing qualified state institutions for
this purpose." In addition, he says, the PetroCaribe
Secretariat would be "assigned to the [Venezuelan] Ministry

SIPDIS
of Energy and Petroleum" for the purposes of the day-to-day
administration of the programme. In other words, as he
observes, despite Caricom's commitment to the private
sector's role, the signatories to PetroCaribe have now "opted
for a reversion to statism..."

As for the much-touted road from Caracas to Georgetown, it
would simply bring the North-West District and coastal Guyana
within the Venezuelan sphere, while the Guyana Shield Project
was originally envisaged as achieving the economic
integration of the area between the Orinoco and Amazon
Rivers, but as amended by President Chavez, significantly, it
now omits Brazilian Guiana. The Government of Guyana has
never even had the courtesy to open up the serious
implications of such a project for public discussion.

So then, has President Chavez changed? The short answer is,
only his methods. He has been open enough to tell the world
what he seeks: a socialist universe, the elimination of US
influence on the continent and the integration of South
America and the Caribbean under his socialist Bolivarian
Alternative - for which one can read Venezuelan hegemony. It
was reported yesterday that he had said he was "ready to
programme a new Mercosur" far from the currents of neo-
liberalism, and that he was withdrawing from the Andean pact
because of the recent trade agreements made by Peru and
Colombia with the United States.

It is alleged he has used oil money to interfere in the
politics of various South American countries, and only
yesterday too, the Peruvian Association of Exporters accused
him of funding a campaign against their country's free trade
agreement with the United States. Angered by US naval
exercises in the Caribbean he has announced his own naval
manoeuvres off his coast.

President Chavez will run up against all kinds of impediments
to the implementation of his vision in the case of several of
the larger Latin countries, who among other things, have
their own international ambitions, but he is off to a flying
start in the Caribbean and Guyana. Of course he doesn't need
to send his warplanes to violate our airspace, when he can
integrate a large part of our territory, and that of our
neighbours within the Venezuelan sphere by blandishments and
oil payment concessions. And all this "to the plaudits of the
Caribbean people," as Eric Williams put it.

END TEXT.

THOMAS