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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
07BRIDGETOWN573
2007-05-09 21:41:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Bridgetown
Cable title:  

(C) GRENADA PM MITCHELL ON CHAVEZ'S BAD LIST?

Tags:   PREL  PGOV  PINR  EAID  AC  DO  GJ  IS  VC  VE  XL 
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DE RUEHWN #0573/01 1292141
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 092141Z MAY 07
FM AMEMBASSY BRIDGETOWN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4689
INFO RUCNCOM/EC CARICOM COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 1714
RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV PRIORITY 0091
RUEHCV/USDAO CARACAS VE PRIORITY
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 0111
RUMIAAA/HQ USSOUTHCOM J2 MIAMI FL PRIORITY
RUMIAAA/HQ USSOUTHCOM J5 MIAMI FL PRIORITY
						C O N F I D E N T I A L BRIDGETOWN 000573 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/CAR
SOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/07/2017
TAGS: PREL PGOV PINR EAID AC DO GJ IS VC VE XL
SUBJECT: (C) GRENADA PM MITCHELL ON CHAVEZ'S BAD LIST?

REF: A. BRIDGETOWN 509

B. 06 BRIDGETOWN 315

C. 06 BRIDGETOWN 294

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

C O N F I D E N T I A L BRIDGETOWN 000573

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/CAR
SOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/07/2017
TAGS: PREL PGOV PINR EAID AC DO GJ IS VC VE XL
SUBJECT: (C) GRENADA PM MITCHELL ON CHAVEZ'S BAD LIST?

REF: A. BRIDGETOWN 509

B. 06 BRIDGETOWN 315

C. 06 BRIDGETOWN 294

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


1. (C) Summary: In a somewhat tense mid-April meeting with
Charge, Grenada's Keith Mitchell shared his fears that
strongly leftist Caribbean leaders, led by St. Vincent's
Ralph Gonsalves, had persuaded Hugo Chavez that the
pro-American Grenada government should not receive further
Venezuelan assistance. Mitchell bewailed the non-receipt of
some two-thirds of the USD 30 million Chavez had apparently
promised Grenada (timeframe unclear). In an indirect apology
for Grenada's lack of convergence with the U.S. on UN and OAS
voting, Mitchell claimed he could not control his ambassadors
and requested that Charge send him demarches directly. The
PM also mentioned that Israel had offered him a state visit,
presumably in exchange for Grenada's support in multilateral
fora. Mitchell has a history of running to U.S. diplomats
when he is in trouble (reftels). His overriding focus, like
that of his Eastern Caribbean colleagues across the
ideological spectrum, is keeping resources flowing in to
ensure his political survival. End Summary.


2. (C) Charge d'Affaires Karen Jo McIsaac met with Grenada
Prime Minister Keith Mitchell on April 19 at his request.
Mitchell expressed his happiness with the April 13-15 visit
to Grenada of CODEL Engel (ref A). After a long
recapitulation of his relationship with Cuba's Fidel
Castro--generally good--and with Venezuela's Hugo
Chavez--uncertain--Mitchell arrived at the message he wanted
to pass to the USG: he is convinced that "Ralph is dirtying
me with Chavez," referring to PM Ralph Gonsalves of St.

Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG). Mitchell continued that
"he (Gonsalves) is carrying Roosevelt (PM Roosevelt Skerrit
of Dominica) and possibly Baldwin (PM & MFA Baldwin Spencer
of Antigua) with him" in damaging Mitchell's standing with
Chavez.

PERFORMING FOR DON FIDEL AND DON HUGO
--------------


3. (C) Reaching back to a public event in Cuba that probably
took place in early 2006, Mitchell described his discomfort
at appearing on the podium after SVG PM Gonsalves delivered a
fiery anti-American tirade. Mitchell could not match the
rhetoric as the PM assured Charge that he values Grenada's
relationship with the United States and will not jeopardize
it by engaging in public denunciations. Mitchell said he
could tell Castro was not happy with his (Mitchell's) more
measured intervention, the first time Mitchell has felt such
disapproval from the Cuban leader.


4. (C) According to PM Mitchell, Venezuela had promised USD
30 million in assistance to Grenada but the country has only
received USD 9 million. Given what happened in Cuba,
Mitchell said he is convinced Grenada will not see any more.
Chavez promised to visit Grenada, but has never asked to
come, though he has visited St. Vincent and St. Lucia. For
the first time, Mitchell provided a breakdown of expected
Venezuelan assistance, in U.S. dollars (Charge has tried to
get this before without success):

- USD 10 million: hospital construction
- USD 10 million: construction of low-income housing
- USD 4 million: youth development
- USD 5 million: material assistance to low-income
Grenadians
- USD 1 million: youth rehabilitation

Mitchell is convinced that Gonsalves, and perhaps the other
Eastern Caribbean leaders he mentioned, are behind
Venezuela's failure to deliver on further installments of its
promised assistance.


5. (C) Mitchell characterized Gonsalves as very close to "my
political opponents, all of whom are strongly
left-of-center." Grenada's Prime Minister added that he is
convinced that, if he takes a strong stance against Chavez,
Gonsalves will fund the Grenadian opposition in a big way, or
"more than he already may be doing." In response to a
question about campaign financing laws, Mitchell said there
is no law against taking money from non-Grenadians, only the
anti-money laundering laws requiring the reporting of imports
of large amounts of money.

MULTILATERAL CHALLENGES
--------------


6. (C) Having finished with Venezuelan assistance, Mitchell
moved on to UN and OAS votes. He told Charge that he was
speaking as a friend, but wanted to point out U.S. errors in
trying to garner Eastern Caribbean support in multilateral
fora. In particular, he spoke about the 2005 vote for the
OAS Secretary General when the United States supported El
Salvador's former President Francisco Flores. Mitchell said
that if we had asked him first, he could have told us Flores
would not get Caribbean support. Charge accepted the
criticism but pointed out that we do engage Grenada's
ambassadors in Washington and New York on issues of
importance to the United States at the UN and the OAS all the
time. She suggested that Grenada's ambassadors may not be
serving the country well if they are not communicating what
the U.S. tells them to the GOG. In one case, Charge was
aware that Grenada's ambassador at the UN appeared to be
deliberately avoiding the U.S ambassador charged with
briefing Caribbean ambassadors. In addition to U.S.
diplomats demarching Grenada's ambassadors in New York and
Washington, Charge added, the Embassy in St. George's
provides the information to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
and International Trade, generally via diplomatic note, but
when the issue is really urgent, by telephone as well.


7. (C) In a burst of candor, Mitchell admitted that he had
trouble controlling his ambassadors, particularly Ruth Rouse,
who was at the UN until recently. She was recalled several
months ago and replaced by Angus Friday. Rouse was very
close to the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC)
and Mitchell did not trust her not to tell NDC leaders in
advance about actions he wanted taken. In one instance,
Mitchell said, when he asked Rouse why she voted a particular
way, she told him she had talked to other CARICOM member
ambassadors about how they were voting and followed their
lead. (Note: During the CODEL's visit, Grenada's Ambassador
to the U.S. and the OAS since 1995, Denis Antoine, told
Charge that he was "appalled" when he saw Grenada's UN and
OAS voting record. His remark seems disingenuous, as though
he was suddenly noticing what we have complained about for
years--and that he had nothing to do with it. End Note.)


8. (C) Mitchell said he wants to improve Grenada's relations
with Israel and asked that Charge let the GOG know of votes
coming up where it would be "easy for Grenada to support
Israel." Israel has apparently offered Mitchell a state
visit. Charge reiterated that we provide lots of information
about votes during UNGA and other UN and OAS meetings. The
Prime Minister asked that Charge fax them to his office
directly when they are important. Charge agreed to do so.
Mitchell concluded by saying he does not want Grenada to be
too robotic in its voting.

COMMENT
--------------


9. (C) Mitchell appeared to have trouble getting to the point
in the conversation, going over ground he has covered in
multiple other conversations with Charge as well as with the
Ambassador and other U.S. officials (reftels). There were
several moments when Charge thought he was not going to
actually say anything significant, an unusual hesitancy for a
very skilled public speaker and thorough politician. At
times the Prime Minister appeared to be in physical pain,
squirming in his seat, squinting, and not finding anyplace to
rest his hands. When at last he blurted out Gonsalves' name,
he seemed relieved, flopping back in his chair limply, arms
outspread, and resting his head against the back. Once
through that point, the conversation turned brisk and
matter-of-fact.


10. (C) Mitchell may have gotten the message about USG
disappointment with Grenada's voting record in multilateral
fora, although Venezuela's lack of follow-through on
assistance may be what has finally driven him to look
elsewhere for support. With about 20 percent of homes in
Grenada still suffering from some level of damage from

Hurricanes Ivan (2004) and Emily (2005), the PM is clearly
thinking about maintaining his razor-thin political edge (one
vote in parliament) over the opposition. This is the first
crack Charge has seen in the close relationship between
Grenada and Venezuela. We have an opportunity to gently peel
Grenada away from the Eastern Caribbean pack if we move
carefully. CODEL Engel gave Mitchell hope that the United
States may be prepared to engage again, which may have helped
him get over his obvious reluctance to air internal Eastern
Caribbean dirty laundry.
OURISMAN