US embassy cable - 06BUENOSAIRES903 (original version)

ARGENTINA NAMES STRONG CHAVEZ ALLY AS AMBASSADOR TO VENEZUELA (original version)

Identifier: 06BUENOSAIRES903
Wikileaks: View 06BUENOSAIRES903 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Buenos Aires
Created: 2006-04-21 19:15:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PREL PGOV OVIP ENRG AR VZ
Redacted: This cable was redacted by Wikileaks. [Show redacted version] [Compare redacted and unredacted version]
VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBU #0903/01 1111915
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 211915Z APR 06
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4241
INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 5482
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 1333
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 5286
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 0893
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ APR LIMA 1821
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 5080
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO 5488
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 0723
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEKJCS/CJCS WASHDC
RHMFISS/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
C O N F I D E N T I A L BUENOS AIRES 000903 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/21/2016 
TAGS: PREL, PGOV, OVIP, ENRG, AR, VZ 
SUBJECT: ARGENTINA NAMES STRONG CHAVEZ ALLY AS AMBASSADOR 
TO VENEZUELA 
 
REF: 05 STATE 1049 
 
Classified By: Ambassador Lino Gutierrez, Reasons 1.4(b) and (d). 
 
1. (C) SUMMARY: The GOA announced April 18 that it was 
seeking acceptance from the Government of Venezuela to name 
former airline stewardess, union leader, congresswoman, and 
Chavez ally Alicia Castro as the new Argentine Ambassador to 
Venezuela.  Castro, 56, is known as one of Chavez's most 
ardent supporters in Argentina, and was a main force behind 
the "anti-Summit" last November in Mar del Plata.  Her 
appointment comes at a time when Argentine-Venezuelan 
relations were beginning to cool, and may represent an 
attempt by President Kirchner to please both Chavez and the 
Argentine left.  We believe Castro will continue to advocate 
that Kirchner pursue a closer relationship with Chavez rather 
than act as a moderating influence.  END SUMMARY. 
 
2. (C) First elected to Congress in 1997, Castro was 
reelected in 2001 and recently vacated her seat in December 
2005.  From 1991-2004 she also led the union that represents 
Argentine flight attendants and pursers and still holds a 
high-ranking position within the union.  She worked as a 
stewardess for Aerolineas Argentinas from 1969-1990. 
Unmarried, Castro currently lives in Buenos Aires with her 
18-year old daughter. 
 
3. (C) Castro is an unflinching supporter of Chavez and his 
policies (see reftel).  In 2004, Castro sponsored four 
pro-Chavez resolutions in the Argentine Congress.  Last year 
Castro called herself "Chavez's vanguard in this country," 
and lauded Chavez's economic policies for their "humanism and 
better distribution of incomes." (Rumors have swirled that 
there is also a romantic relationship between the two.) 
Castro also said that "Bush is the real threat," and weapons 
purchased by Venezuela from Spain "are part of a strategic 
defense."  In November 2005 she was one of the main speakers 
at the anti-American "People's Summit" (at which Chavez also 
delivered a 2-hour speech) that was held simultaneously with 
the Summit of the Americas in Mar del Plata.  She also sent a 
letter to President Bush several weeks before the Summit 
asking him not to travel to Argentina because he represented 
"a danger to the democracies of South America." 
 
4. (C) Kirchner,s decision comes at a time when relations 
between Argentina and Venezuela had appeared to be cooling. 
Kirchner had canceled a scheduled mini-Summit with Lula and 
Chavez to be held in Mendoza after Bachelet,s inauguration 
to discuss the Venezuela-Brazil-Argentina gas pipeline 
project.  Kirchner had said at the time that not enough 
progress had been made in developing a serious project 
proposal worthy of discussion by the heads of state. 
 
5. (C) Kirchner has also remained concerned about Chavez,s 
increasingly successful seduction of Morales, which he views 
as meddling in Argentina,s backyard.  (Note:  Morales is 
playing tough with the Argentines on the gas issue and the 
Bolivia-Uruguay-Paraguay mini-Summit in Asuncion has 
Chavez,s overt support.) 
 
6. (C) In addition, Argentina and Venezuela have been 
involved in a spat related to Venezuelan sales of fuel oil to 
Argentina in 2004. The Venezuelan oil parastatal, PDVSA, 
wants Argentina to pay nearly $20 million in shipping/port 
costs when PDVSA vessels had to wait several months to 
unload.  Argentina argues that the sales contract did not 
cover such a situation and refuses to pay.  Finally, 
Argentina,s recent lead role in blocking Venezuelan antics 
at the recent CICTE meeting in Bogot brought tensions to a 
head. 
 
7. (C) COMMENT: From our point of view, the timing of 
Castro,s appointment couldn't be worse, particularly in the 
wake of Argentina,s position on Venezuela at the UNSC. 
However, Chavez has not been invited back to Buenos Aires 
since the Summit, and some believe that Kirchner may be 
outsourcing his Venezuela policy to Alicia in Caracas, while 
he tries to put some distance between himself and Chavez. 
There is also an emerging rift among Kirchner,s advisors 
between Planning Minister De Vido, who wants to avoid 
ideology and keep the Venezuelan relationship strictly to 
business, and the Bolivarian minority within the Peronist 
movement headed by Alicia Castro.  De Vido told us in a 
meeting a couple of months ago that Kirchner would gladly 
meet with Venezuelan opposition leaders here in Buenos Aires, 
and noted that no requests had come in two years.  The 
Venezuelan opposition should take him up on this and try to 
deflate some of the public momentum that Chavez won with 
Castro,s appointment. 
 
8. (U) Reftel available at 
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/wha/buenosaires.< /a> 
 
 
GUTIERREZ 

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