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Cablegate: Chavez Arrives Late

VZCZCXRO4167
PP RUEHQU
DE RUEHPU #0492 0721752
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 131752Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY PORT AU PRINCE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5593
INFO RUEHZH/HAITI COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 1457
RUEHSA/AMEMBASSY PRETORIA PRIORITY 1280
RUEHQU/AMCONSUL QUEBEC PRIORITY 0744
RUMIAAA/HQ USSOUTHCOM J2 MIAMI FL PRIORITY
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 1158

UNCLAS PORT AU PRINCE 000492

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/CAR
DRL
S/CRS
SOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR LAC/CAR
INR/IAA (BEN-YEHUDA)
TREASURY FOR MAUREEN WAFER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV EAID XM XL HA VE
SUBJECT: CHAVEZ ARRIVES LATE

REF: A. PORT AU PRINCE 78

B. PORT AU PRINCE 266

1. (SBU) Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez arrived in Haiti
March 12 for meetings with Haitian President Rene Preval and
Cuban Vice President Esteban Lazo Hernadez. Though the GoH
had announced bilateral meetings with the Venezuelan
President, as well as a trip to a construction site, Chavez
arrived four hours late -- while Preval waited at the airport
-- and so the program was limited to a wreath-lying at
Port-au-Prince's monument to Simon Bolivar, and a trilateral
meeting followed by a press conference. The organization of
the day was clearly thrown off by Chavez' late arrival, and
apparently ended with a delay of his plane's departure, again
with Preval waiting at the airport.

2. (SBU) During the press conference, Preval confirmed the
US $20 million that Chavez had announced in Venezuela on
March 5. Reportedly, the money will serve as humanitarian
reserve fund for Haiti in order to back social,
infrastructure and power-supply programs. Chavez also
re-announced his donations of garbage trucks to Haiti, which
his Vice President had announced in late January. (Note:
According to press reports in late January, Venezuela will
donate five or six garbage trucks and Haiti will purchase 25
more. End note.) Also, the Venezuela president said he
would augment the amount of fuel Haiti will receive through
Petrocaribe from 5,000 barrels a day to 14,000 barrels.
(Note: Haiti's daily fuel demand is only 11,000 barrels.
Venezuela and Haiti announced last October that Petrocaribe
would supply 100 percent of Haiti's fuel, up from 60 percent
(the same jump Chavez made reference to at the press
conference). Since the initial shipment of fuel arrived May,
2006, Haiti has not received any further shipments. End
note.) Venezuela pledged funds for improvement to provincial
Haitian airports and airport runways (also previously
announced) and experts on economic planning to help identify
development priorities. Other pledges include Cuban
commitment to bring medical coverage to all Haitian communes,
Cuban and Venezuelan electrical experts to improve energy
generation, and a trilateral cooperation bureau in
Port-au-Prince.

3. (SBU) Comment: Gabriel Verret, one of Preval's closest
advisors, told the Ambassador that the trip could have been
worse. The GoH stopped a rally that was supposed to take
place in favor of Chavez and tried to limit Chavez' speaking
time at the press conference. While waiting at the airport,
Verret had let the Ambassador know that he (and presumably
the President) were frustrated with Chavez' late arrival.
Overall, disorganization and last-minute planning were
evident, and even the pledges of aid and assistance are
either old news or vague. GoH officials have complained to
post privately in the past that Venezuelan aid can be a
burden the GoH: the initial Petrocaribe shipment sat in
storage for months until the GoH finally succeeded in selling
it (primarily to the only local company) and the public works
minister complained in December that nobody could figure out
how to make use of several tons of tar Venezuela sent in
late 2006.
SANDERSON

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