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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
09CARACAS222 2009-02-17 21:49:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Caracas
Cable title:  

GBRV EXPELS EUROPEAN PARLIAMENTARIAN OVER CRITICAL

Tags:   PREL SP VE 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXRO4759
PP RUEHAG RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHCV #0222 0482149
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 172149Z FEB 09
FM AMEMBASSY CARACAS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2628
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHWH/WESTERN HEMISPHERIC AFFAIRS DIPL POSTS PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUMIAAA/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL PRIORITY
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L CARACAS 000222 

SIPDIS

SOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/18/2019
TAGS: PREL SP VE
SUBJECT: GBRV EXPELS EUROPEAN PARLIAMENTARIAN OVER CRITICAL
REMARKS

REF: A. CARACAS 216

B. 08 CARACAS 1312

Classified By: Francisco Fernandez, Political Counselor,
for Reason 1.4(d)



1. (C) Summary. The Government of the Bolivarian Republic of
Venezuela (GBRV) forcibly expelled European Parliament member
Luis Herrero February 13 after Herrero criticized both
President Chavez and the Venezuelan electoral system.
National Electoral Council (CNE) President Tibisay Lucena
called Herrero's comments an unacceptable intrusion into
Venezuelan domestic politics and ordered his expulsion.
According to the DCM of the Spanish Embassy in Caracas, the
Spanish Foreign Ministry has already called in an unrepentant
Venezuelan Ambassador to complain. The GBRV's expulsion is
reminiscent of the GBRV's September 2008 decision to expel
two Human Rights Watch visitors (Ref B). End Summary.



2. (SBU) European Parliament member Luis Herrero was
forcibly expelled from Venezuela on the evening of February
13 after he made televised comments critical of President
Chavez and the CNE's decision to extend voting hours for the
February 15 referendum on eliminating term limits. Herrero
suggested that Chavez's public comments that security forces
clamp down on student protests were more consistent with a
"dicatatorship than democracy." Herrero was part of a group
of five European Parliament members (one Portuguese and four
Spaniards) invited by the center-right COPEI party to
"accompany" the referendum. Calling Herrero's comments
"disruptive to the harmony of the election," National
Election Council (CNE) President Tibisay Lucena requested his
expulsion from Venezuela. In a display of state authority,
some 30 DISIP officers hustled Herrero out of his hotel room
with only the clothes on his back and put him on the a flight
to Sao Paolo, the first available flight out of the country.



3. (C) Ignacio Aguirre de Carcer, Spain's DCM in Caracas,
told PolOff February 17 that Spanish diplomats recovered
Herrero's luggage, asthma medication and documents from the
hotel, and forwarded them to Brazil. Aguirre added that,
perhaps as a sop to the European parliament, the CNE upgraded
Herrero's companions from election attendee to observer
status. Aguirre also confirmed to PolOff that Spain's
Foreign Ministry called in Venezuelan Ambassador Toro Hardy
to protest the manner in which Herrero was expelled from
Venezuela. According to Aguirre, Toro Hardy took a hard line
in response to the dressing down.



4. (C) Comment: The GBRV's quick expulsion of European
parliament member Herrero is reminiscent of the GBRV's
September 2008 expulsion of Miguel Vivanco and Daniel
Wilkinson of Human Rights Watch after they released at a
Caracas press conference a report criticizing the GBRV's
human rights record. It is also consistent with the GBRV's
decision to discourage former Polish President Lech Walesa
from visiting. Chavez is likely to continue to try to deter
credible foreign critics from publicly voicing their opinions
in Venezuela. Ironically, in so doing, Chavez is only
reinforcing the substance of their criticism of the
increasingly authoritarian nature of the GBRV.

CAULFIELD