Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
09CARACAS858
2009-07-08 21:39:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Caracas
Cable title:  

CHAVISTAS FEELING BOXED IN BY THE SECRETARY'S

Tags:  PGOV KDEM VE 
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VZCZCXRO8195
PP RUEHAG RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR
DE RUEHCV #0858/01 1892139
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 082139Z JUL 09
FM AMEMBASSY CARACAS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3347
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 SECTION 01 OF 02 CARACAS 000858 

SIPDIS

HQSOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD
DEPARTMENT PASS TO AID/OTI (RPORTER)

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/07/2029
TAGS: PGOV KDEM VE
SUBJECT: CHAVISTAS FEELING BOXED IN BY THE SECRETARY'S
INTERVIEW AND LATEST DEVELOPMENTS REGARDING HONDURAS

REF: CARACAS 851

CARACAS 00000858 001.2 OF 002


Classified By: POLITICAL COUNSELOR FRANCISCO FERNANDEZ,
FOR REASON 1.4(D)

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 CARACAS 000858

SIPDIS

HQSOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD
DEPARTMENT PASS TO AID/OTI (RPORTER)

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/07/2029
TAGS: PGOV KDEM VE
SUBJECT: CHAVISTAS FEELING BOXED IN BY THE SECRETARY'S
INTERVIEW AND LATEST DEVELOPMENTS REGARDING HONDURAS

REF: CARACAS 851

CARACAS 00000858 001.2 OF 002


Classified By: POLITICAL COUNSELOR FRANCISCO FERNANDEZ,
FOR REASON 1.4(D)


1. (C) Summary: Chavistas may be feeling that the calls
for a stronger US response regarding the coup in Honduras may
have backfired and diminished the possibility of a
Venezuelan-led resolution to the current situation. The
announcement by Secretary Clinton that Costa Rican President
Oscar Arias would lead the mediation between the Honduran
factions removes Chavez from the forefront after the
Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela's (GBRV's)
concerted effort to dominate the Honduran coup and support
Zelaya. The Secretary's interview on embattled Globovision
TV July 7, granted immediately after the meeting with Zelaya
and the Arias announcement, lent the media outlet tacit
support while simultaneously raising sensitive issues in a
way that Chavistas will find difficult to criticize. That
said, the public and private reactions to these developments
indicate some Chavistas will continue to attack the US even
if they feel they have been outflanked. End Summary.

-------------- --------------
SECRETARY'S INTERVIEW AND ARIAS ANNOUNCEMENT DRAW PUBLIC FIRE
-------------- --------------


2. (C) The Secretary's July 7 interview with
opposition-oriented Globovision TV's "Hello, Citizen" -- the
fiercely anti-government talk show intended to parallel
Chavez's "Hello, President" weekly broadcasts -- was
subsequently re-broadcast by state-owned Venezolana TV (VTV).
After airing the interview in full, Chavista journalist Eva
Gollinger and host Mario Silva gave their opinions, attacking
Globovision for "polishing the shoes" of the Secretary. They
went on to blame former A/S Shannon for being involved in the
Honduran coup, noting that he had "followed the script" of
the failed Venezuelan coup attempt in 2002, when he was
serving as WHA/DAS. The hosts also suggested that the
Secretary's comments indicated that the Venezuelan military
should prepare itself because the United States was setting
itself up to invade. Gollinger falsely quoted the Secretary
as pledging that the United States would take unspecified

action if the situation in Venezuela did not improve within a
month -- a particularly bizarre assertion given that the
interview has just been aired several minutes prior.


3. (SBU) The announcement that Costa Rican President Oscar
Arias would serve as a mediator for the conflict in Honduras
has received front-page news both in state-owned and
opposition-oriented media. The state-run Bolivarian News
Agency has highlighted the popular demonstrations of support
for Zelaya in Tegucigalpa, and also carried statements from
Arias that the United States has not unduly interfered in the
mediation process, which he was quoted as saying must be
initiated by the Hondurans rather than an outside element.

--------------
THE GBRV COMPLAINS PRIVATELY TO THE EMBASSY
--------------


4. (C) Venezuelan businessman and sometimes unofficial GBRV
liaison to the Embassy Rene Arreaza called the DCM July 7 to
express concern that Secretary Clinton had recorded an
interview earlier that day with Globovision. Arreaza said
that President Chavez had just learned about the interview
and wanted to know what was going on. As a result, Arreaza
had received several calls about the interview, including one
from Foreign Minister Maduro, asking him to reach out to the
Embassy. The DCM noted that the Embassy had learned of the
interview shortly before it took place, and the GBRV needed
to view the interview in the context of events in Honduras.
He noted that Chavez had publicly expressed doubts about the
true intentions of the US government in Honduras, accused the
US of being behind the coup, and challenged President Obama
to clarify his position on Honduras (reftel). The DCM also
said that in the course of July 7, President Obama had
addressed Honduras in his speech in Moscow, Secretary Clinton
met with President Zelaya and held a press conference, and
Secretary Clinton also agreed to a long-standing request for
an interview by Globovision that allowed her to speak
directly to the Venezuelan people on the issue of Honduras
and our hopes for an improved dialogue with Venezuela.


5. (C) Arreaza protested to the DCM, saying that the
Globovision principals were coup plotters. The DCM conveyed

CARACAS 00000858 002.2 OF 002


to Arreaza the Ambassadors' suggestion that GBRV officials
watch the interview, and said that if they had any concerns
about the content the Ambassador would be happy to talk to
them. The DCM also reminded Arreaza that the point of the
Ambassador's return to Venezuela was to open a new dialogue
with the GBRV, and expressed disappointment that no senior
official had attended the US Independence Day celebration on
June 2. He also noted that while the Ambassador had agreed
to travel to Ciudad Bolivar this year on short notice to
attend the Venezuelan Independence Day ceremonies presided
over by President Chavez, there had been no opportunity to
interact with him, in contrast to last year's events, when
President Chavez had reached out to the Ambassador in the
diplomatic gallery to propose greater cooperation and
dialogue. Arreaza thanked the DCM for his comments and said
that he would relay them to the GBRV officials who had
contacted him.

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


6. (C) Chavez has inserted himself into the Honduran
conflict asserting his credentials as a defender of democracy
and a leader in the region. The selection of widely
respected Oscar Arias as a mediator is a decision Chavez can
hardly criticize but is unlikely to welcome. The subsequent
interview of the Secretary on Globovision was probably
irritating to Chavez but, again, in substance not something
to which he could convincingly object. While his militant
supporters will probably continue to make fantastical claims
about the deeper meaning within the Secretary's comments --
or assert outright fabrications -- Chavez himself will be
hard-pressed to attack her or Arias directly without
appearing to be out of step with the international community.
This may be why neither Chavez nor any other official GBRV
spokesman has yet to comment publicly on the latest events.
End Comment.
DUDDY