US embassy cable - 94CARACAS10003

CASTRO GREETS FORMER COUP LEADER CHAVEZ

Identifier: 94CARACAS10003
Wikileaks: View 94CARACAS10003 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Caracas
Created: 1994-12-19 13:21:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PREL PGOV PINR CU VE
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
P 191321Z DEC 94
FM AMEMBASSY CARACAS
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2339
INFO USINT HAVANA 
USCINCSO QUARRY HEIGHTS PM
C O N F I D E N T I A L CARACAS 10003 
 
 
E.O. 12356:  DECL: OADR 
TAGS:  PREL, PGOV, PINR, CU, VE 
SUBJECT:   CASTRO GREETS FORMER COUP LEADER CHAVEZ 
 
1.  (U) CARACAS NEWSPAPERS GAVE FRONT PAGE COVERAGE 
DECEMBER 15 TO THE VISIT TO HAVANA OF RETIRED ARMY LT. 
COL. HUGO CHAVEZ.  FEATURING PHOTOS OF FIDEL CASTRO 
EMBRACING CHAVEZ, THE PRESS REPORTED THAT THE CUBAN 
PRESIDENT WENT TO THE AIRPORT TO GREET THE PRINCIPAL 
LEADER OF THE FAILED FEBRUARY 1992 COUP AGAINST THEN 
PRESIDENT CARLOS ANDRES PEREZ.  CHAVEZ WAS REPORTEDLY 
INVITED TO CUBA TO LECTURE ON SIMON BOLIVAR.  THE PRESS 
NOTED THAT CASTRO WAS IRONICALLY ONE OF THE FIRST FOREIGN 
LEADERS TO SEND A TELEGRAM IN SUPPORT OF FORMER PRESIDENT 
PEREZ AFTER THE FEBRUARY 1992 COUP ATTEMPT, AND NOW THE 
CUBAN CHIEF IS TREATING THE MAN WHO ORCHESTRATED THE COUP 
MUCH LIKE A VISITING HEAD OF STATE. 
 
2.  (U)  PROFESSING HIS ADMIRATION FOR CUBA ("THE 
AUTHENTIC BOLIVARIAN DREAM BREATHES HERE"), CHAVEZ 
AFFIRMED THAT VENEZUELA REQUIRED A ECONOMIC, SOCIAL, 
POLITICAL, AND MORAL REVOLUTION.  HE CALLED THE GOV A 
"CIVILIAN DICTATORSHIP DISGUISED AS A DEMOCRACY".  THE 
LEADER OF THE "BOLIVARIAN REVOLUTIONARY MOVEMENT 200" 
(MBR-200) ALSO ASSERTED THAT HIS GROUP WOULD SEEK POWER IN 
VENEZUELA DEMOCRATICALLY.  AT THE SAME TIME, CHAVEZ 
REITERATED THAT HE WOULD NOT PARTICIPATE IN FUTURE 
ELECTIONS UNLESS THE "RULES OF THE GAME ARE CHANGED." 
 
3.  (LOU)  ON THE AFTERNOON OF DECEMBER 15, FOREIGN 
MINISTER MIGUEL ANGEL BURELLI RIVAS REPORTEDLY CALLED IN 
GERMAN GARCIA OTERO, THE CUBAN AMBASSADOR IN CARACAS, TO 
"LAY OUT THE VENEZUELAN POSITION" TOWARDS CHAVEZ' WARM 
RECEPTION.  THE LACK OF PUBLIC COMMENTS REGARDING WHAT WAS 
SAID DURING MEETING LEFT LITTLE DOUBT THE EXCHANGE WAS 
COLD.  TWO DAYS LATER BURELLI RIVAS FELT COMPELLED TO 
COMMENT THAT HIS EXCHANGE WITH GARCIA OTERO DEALT ONLY 
WITH BILATERAL ISSUES.  THE MINISTER ALSO ASSERTED THAT 
THE RETURN TO CARACAS OF THE VENEZUELAN AMBASSADOR IN 
HAVANA HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THE CHAVEZ INCIDENT.  IN 
OTHER REACTION, THE ARCHBISHOP OF BARQUISIMETO COMMENTED 
ON THE CHAVEZ VISIT IN HIS TELEVISED CHRISTMAS MESSAGE, 
BLASTING CHAVEZ FOR COMPARING CASTRO'S CUBAN DICTATORSHIP 
TO THE BOLIVARIAN DREAM. 
 
4.  (C)  COMMENT:  IT IS NOT IMMEDIATELY EVIDENT WHAT 
DOMESTIC POLITICAL BENEFIT CHAVEZ EXPECTS TO DERIVE FROM 
HIS VISIT TO CUBA AND MEETING WITH CASTRO.  IF ANYTHING, 
IN THE EYES OF MOST VENEZUELANS THE ENCOUNTER WILL MORE 
CLEARLY PLACE THE NATIONALISTIC, POLITICALLY AMBIGUOUS 
CHAVEZ AND HIS MBR IN THE POLITICAL CAMP OF THE FAR LEFT. 
THE CUBAN MODEL IS NOT ONE THAT HAS MANY SUPPORTERS HERE, 
SO HIS FLIRTING WITH CASTRO WOULD NOT SEEM A MOVE THAT 
WOULD WIN HIM VAST SUPPORT AT HOME.  ON THE CONTRARY, A 
PERCEPTION THAT HE IS CLOSE TO CASTRO COULD COST CHAVEZ 
POLITICALLY SINCE A CONSIDERABLE PORTION OF HIS SUPPORT 
DERIVES FROM THE VIEW THAT HE IS AN ANTI-SYSTEM POPULIST, 
NOT THAT HE IS A LEFTIST.  WE PRESUME THAT FROM THE CUBAN 
PERSPECTIVE THE HIGH LEVEL ATTENTION PAID TO CHAVEZ WAS 
CASTRO'S WAY OF SIGNALING HIS DISPLEASURE WITH THE GOV 
OVER VENEZUELA'S COMMENTS ON THE NEED TO DEMOCRATIZE 
CUBA.  BURELLI RIVAS' CALLING IN THE CUBAN AMBASSADOR 
PROVIDED THE GOV RESPONSE. 
 
DAVIDOW 

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