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10CARACAS185 2010-02-12 19:23:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Caracas
Cable title:  

Unofficial Emissary Suggests Possibility for Improved

Tags:   PGOV PREL VE 
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E.O. 12958: DECL: 2035/02/12
TAGS: PGOV PREL VE
SUBJECT: Unofficial Emissary Suggests Possibility for Improved
Bilateral Dialogue

CLASSIFIED BY: Robin D. Meyer, Political Counselor, State, POL;
REASON: 1.4(B), (D)



1. (C) Summary. Rene Arreaza, who is closely tied to senior
Chavista officials, told the Ambassador on February 3 that, despite
President Chavez' hostile rhetoric, the GBRV was willing to have a
dialogue with the United States. Arreaza noted two initiatives
promoting dialogue, one bilateral and one regional, sponsored by
the Carter Canter. Carter Center Director Hector Vanolli said the
Andean Forum, which President Carter will inaugurate on February
23-24 in Atlanta, had the blessing of Venezuelan Ambassador to the
United States Bernardo Alvarez but not yet of Foreign Minister
Maduro. Arreaza and Chavez-allied National Assembly Deputy Jose
Albornoz indicated that Foreign Minister Maduro might be replaced
with Vice Minister Francisco Arias Cardenas. End Summary.



Some Like Dialogue





2. (C) On February 3, Rene Arreaza, the former Director
General of the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry, met with the
Ambassador, a meeting Arreaza said he had been authorized to
request by Jose Vicente Rangel, and through him Chavez. Arreaza
urged the Ambassador to listen to the Venezuelan government (GBRV)
message that was more "convenient," rather than only Chavez'
hostile rhetoric (likening this approach to President Kennedy's
decision to accept the first rather than the second message from
Khruschev during the Cuban Missile Crisis). Arreaza suggested the
Ambassador focus on the positive messages showing a willingness to
cooperate, such as the GBRV's decision to deport drug traffickers
to the United States. He offered to serve as a channel for the
Ambassador to the GBRV.





3. (C) Arreaza noted two new initiatives to improve the
bilateral and regional dialogue. The first, a U.S.-Venezuela
Friendship Group, had been proposed by Ambassador Alvarez as a "non
political, non-business" group composed of representatives from
universities, cultural institutions, business, and think tanks.
According to Arreaza, the ultimate purpose of this group is to
facilitate government-to-government dialogue.





4. (C) Arreaza said the second initiative was the Carter
Center's new Andean Forum, in which Arreaza will participate and
which President Carter will inaugurate in Atlanta on February
23-24. Hector Vanolli, the Carter Center Director in Venezuela,
told Polcouns on February 11 that the Andean Forum had the
enthusiastic support of Ambassador Alvarez, who had even proposed
potential Venezuelan participants. Alvarez reportedly met with
Maduro on February 9 to seek his support for the Forum. According
to Vanolli, Jose Vicente Rangel is the leading advocate for
dialogue with the United States within Chavista circles; Chavez,
according to Vanolli, does not believe he needs dialogue - with the
United States or anyone else - in order to advance his "Bolivarian"
project.



The Carter Center's Search for Dialogue





5. (C) According to the Carter Center's Latin America
Director Jennifer McCoy, who met with Polcouns in November,
President Carter had raised with President Chavez and other Andean
leaders the idea of an Andean Forum to establish unofficial
channels of communication between and among the Andean countries
and the United States. The proposal is based on the Carter
Center's experience facilitating dialogue between Ecuador and
Colombia through groups of opinion-makers in both countries. The
proposal envisions the establishment of "core groups" of 5-6
opinion-makers who would meet over a 2-year period to discuss
issues that affect regional relations as well as the relationship
between the region and the United States.

CARACAS 00000185 002 OF 002




6. (C) Vanolli said the presidents of the four other Andean
governments (Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, and Ecuador) had all
personally agreed to this proposed Forum. Foreign Minister Maduro,
however, had refused to meet with McCoy during her November visit
to Caracas. Nevertheless, President Carter decided to go ahead
with the proposal. Because of the polarization in Venezuela, the
Carter Center decided it would only consider Chavistas for
membership in Venezuela's delegation since they believed the
inclusion of "opposition" representatives would prevent Chavistas
interested in dialogue from participating. The Embassy has
consistently urged the Carter Center to include non-Chavistas in
the Venezuelan delegation.





7. (C) Vanolli said Ambassador Alvarez' suggestions for
possible participants had largely coincided with their own list and
includes:



a. Rene Arreaza, former Director General of the Foreign
Ministry

b. Maria Clan Stelling, Executive Director of CELARG (Centro
de Estudios Latinoamericanos Romulo Gallegos) and Director of
Global Watch Media

c. Eleazar Diaz Rangel, a prominent Chavista journalist and
Director of "Ultimas Noticias," the highest-circulation newspaper,
owned by the opposition Capriles family

d. Ana Maria Sanjuan, director of the Peace Center at the
Universidad Central de Venezuela

e. Bishop Mario Moronta, a priest who apparently had opposed
the 2002 coup





8. (C) Vanolli said the Carter Center was considering other
Venezuelan participants, including possibly Alberto Vollmer, a
member of the family that owns Santa Teresa Rum and runs
rehabilitation and training programs for former gang members.



Maduro Out?





9. (C) Both Arreaza and National Assembly Second Vice
President Jose Albornoz said that Foreign Minister Maduro would
likely be joining the "campaign" (for the September legislative
elections) and that Francisco Arias Cardenas, currently the Vice
Minister for Latin America, would become the Foreign Minister.
Albornoz noted that Arias Cardenas and Maduro "clashed."



Comment





10. (C) With the currently proposed Venezuelan participant list,
the Embassy is concerned that the Carter Center's Andean Forum
could burnish the reputation of the Chavista "project" and
undermine the democratic opposition and regional partners, since
the Peruvian and Colombian delegations will include both government
supporters and critics while the Venezuelan delegation will be
solely Chavista. Embassy believes that official U.S. participants
in the February 23-24 event should encourage a more balanced
Venezuelan delegation that better reflects the range of views
within Venezuela.
DUDDY