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08SANSALVADOR1214 2008-10-24 17:46:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy San Salvador
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1. (SBU) Summary: The Venezuelan Charge recently requested
that (pro-U.S., center-right) ARENA presidential candidate
Rodrigo Avila stop criticizing Chavez and the Venezuelan
regime as part of his campaign efforts. The BRV has taken an
active interest in the upcoming elections. The request is
not likely to change Avila,s efforts or message. End

2. (SBU) Charge d,affaires Wladimir Ruiz Tirado of
Venezuela, circulated a letter to Rodrigo Avila under cover
of diplomatic note to all missions in San Salvador,
requesting that Avila, presidential candidate of the
(pro-U.S., center right) ruling party ARENA, cease
criticizing Venezuela, President Hugo Chavez, and symbols of
the Venezuelan government as part of ARENA,s campaign
efforts. Ruiz mentioned specific instances where Avila has
denounced Chavez and the Venezuelan government, including a
speech given to military veterans where Avila referred to
Chavez as a tyrant, accused Chavez of corrupting the
Venezuelan armed forces, and said Chavez had interfered in
the dealings of other countries and was now focused on
influencing El Salvador.

3. (SBU) In the letter, Ruiz stated that the BRV respects the
sovereignty and democratic process within other nations and
will continue to respect the electoral process in El
Salvador. Ruiz requests that Avila afford the BRV the same

4. (SBU) Ruiz,s letter has had little effect. Avila and
ARENA have not stopped making references to BRV interference
and have continued to criticize Chavez,s policies.
Subsequent to Ruiz,s request, Avila has spoken out against
the BRV,s decision to remove monitors from Human Rights
Watch. Local media outlets and politicians continue to point
to BRV interference in Nicaragua, Cuba, Bolivia, and Ecuador
as evidence that Chavez and the BRV have an active interest
in exercising influence in El Salvador. Additionally, ARENA
has run TV ads showing Chavez as a menacing figure and
linking him to the FMLN.

5. (SBU) Comment: Concern over the influence of the BRV,
Chavez, and AlbaPetroleos runs high among those opposed to
the (left-wing) FMLN and will continue to be a key issue in
the upcoming elections. It is unlikely that Ruiz's request
will have any impact on ARENA,s campaign efforts or
rhetoric. Indeed, we expect anti-Chavez rhetoric to be an
important part of Avila,s campaign, based on what we believe
to be a correct reading of the public attitudes that object
to Chavez and his influence in the region.