wikileaks ico  Home papers ico  Cables mirror and Afghan War Diary privacy policy  Privacy
IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
09CARACAS863 2009-07-09 18:29:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Caracas
Cable title:  

AMBASSADOR'S MEETING WITH NATIONAL ASSEMBLY US

Tags:   PGOV KDEM VE 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXRO9887
PP RUEHAG RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR
DE RUEHCV #0863/01 1901829
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 091829Z JUL 09
FM AMEMBASSY CARACAS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3355
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 000863 

SIPDIS

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

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/02/2029
TAGS: PGOV KDEM VE
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR'S MEETING WITH NATIONAL ASSEMBLY US
FRIENDSHIP GROUP

CARACAS 00000863 001.3 OF 002


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



1. (C) Summary: The Ambassador and Deputy Chief of Mission
(DCM) attended a breakfast July 9 hosted by the National
Assembly (AN)'s Interparliamentary Friendship Group at the
offices of AN First Vice President Saul Ortega. Francisco
Torrealba, who is president of the group, and Calixto Ortega
were also in attendance. All three Deputies are from
President Chavez's United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV)
and are longstanding members of the group. While the
Deputies noted their concern about Secretary Clinton's July 7
interview with Globovision, they lauded the US reaction to
Honduras and suggested it was a positive "presentation card"
for the Obama administration to the region as a whole. They
also expressed interest in counternarcotics and poverty
reduction cooperation, and noted their interest in reaching
out to their counterparts in the US Congress. As the
authorized legislative liaison with the Embassy, this group
had met with the Ambassador before his expulsion, but the
tone of the meeting, especially after the BRV's communique
condemning the Secretary's Globovision interview, indicates
that at least among some prominent Chavistas there remains an
interest in improved bilateral relations. End Summary.



--------------------------


POSITIVE ON US REACTION TO HONDURAS


--------------------------





2. (C) AN First Vice President Saul Ortega noted the
importance of the speedy US response to Honduras, which he
assessed would be positive for relations with Venezuela and
the region as a whole. He suggested that it would serve as a
positive "presentation card" for President Obama to highlight
his administration's new approach to Latin America. The
Ambassador emphasized twice, however, that Chavez's attacks
against the United States during his July 5 independence day
speech in Bolivar State had put the Ambassador in an
uncomfortable position. He noted that Chavez had raised
questions about the US commitment to resolving the Honduran
conflict despite the public positions taken by both the
President and the Secretary at the very time that Honduran
First Lady Xiomara Castro was being hosted at the US
Ambassador's residence in Tegucigalpa. Ortega admitted that
he was surprised when that fact recently came to light after
Mrs. Zelaya left the Ambassador's residence to participate in
a demonstration against the interim Honduran Government.



--------------------------


UNHAPPY WITH GLOBOVISION


--------------------------





3. (C) Francisco Torrealba registered the group's objection
to the Secretary's July 7 interview with opposition-oriented
Globovision TV, noting that it appeared "unbalanced" for a
representative of the US Government to grant an interview to
a Venezuelan civil society actor that is so ardently opposed
to Chavez. He asserted that within the opposition, some
entities like Globovision have no interest in improved
relations between Venezuela and the United States. The
Ambassador responded that the Secretary had merely granted a
longstanding interview request from the media outlet and had
taken the opportunity to speak directly to Venezuelans,
including congratulating them on their independence day two
days prior. When pressed, Saul Ortega admitted that he had
not actually watched the interview but said that the content
was not the issue, but rather the fact that she had granted
the interview given Globovision's role in Venezuela's highly
politicized environment.



4. (C) Calixto Ortega contended that Globovision was
actually trying to provoke the revocation of its license, an
action it would then seize upon to bring international
condemnation upon the government. He noted that at the end
of the day, Globovision is a business and is primarily
concerned with its profit. Ortega assessed that its owners
were calculating that they would lose only the small
free-to-air percentage of their viewing audience in Caracas
and Valencia if its concession were revoked, while retaining
the bulk of their viewers through cable. He added that if it
became strictly a cable-only channel, Globovision would no
longer have to endure the yoke of CONATEL or other state
controls and penalties. Ortega also assessed that
Globovision's owners were unhappy with their purported loss
of influence over opposition political parties, and that they
are trying to reassert their control.

CARACAS 00000863 002.3 OF 002





5. (C) Asked if the government would fall into this
apparent "trap," Ortega declined to give an opinion.
Following upon this theme, the Ambassador said that the
perception in the United States and elsewhere was that press
freedom was under assault in Venezuela and that closing
Globovision and/or the over 200 radio stations who have been
threatened would be very damaging to Venezuela's reputation.



--------------------------


COOPERATION AHEAD?


--------------------------





6. (C) Ortega suggested without prompting several times
that counternarcotics cooperation was an area in which the
United State and Venezuela could work together. He lamented
the insiduousness of the problem and hinted at a regional
counterdrug effort. The Ambassador noted the success of the
regional peacekeeping and stability efforts in Haiti, and
Ortega indicated that like in Haiti, Honduras would greatly
benefit from complementary poverty reduction efforts. The
group also noted their interest in reaching out to their
legislative counterparts in Washington, including suggesting
a possible meeting between National Assembly President Cilia
Flores and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.



7. (C) Comment: The Friendship Group hosted this breakfast
in keeping with their role as the main (if not only) liaison
with the USG within the National Assembly. Although the
meeting itself was not groundbreaking -- in fact, the
Ambassador has met with them previously -- it was still a
positive sign coming on the heels of the Foreign Ministry's
angry criticism of the Secretary's Globovision interview
(septel). The group's decision not to cancel the meeting and
indeed suggestions of areas in which Venezuela and the United
States can cooperate seem to indicate that at least some
prominent Chavistas perceive that bilateral relations have
thawed after a ten-month freeze. Ultimately, it will require
a gesture from Chavez himself to sanction broader and more
positive engagement by his government with the United States.
End Comment.
DUDDY