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Cablegate: Dominicans Concerned About Alba

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PP RUEHGR
DE RUEHWN #0089 0442019
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 132019Z FEB 08 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY BRIDGETOWN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6076
INFO RUCNCOM/EC CARICOM COLLECTIVE
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 1869
RUMIAAA/HQ USSOUTHCOM J2 MIAMI FL
RUMIAAA/HQ USSOUTHCOM J5 MIAMI FL
RUEHCV/USDAO CARACAS VE

UNCLAS BRIDGETOWN 000089

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

SOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON ENRG PREL PGOV PHUM PINR VE DO XL
SUBJECT: DOMINICANS CONCERNED ABOUT ALBA

REF: BRIDGETOWN 62

1. (U) SUMMARY: While the Government of the Commonwealth of
Dominica (GOCD) defends its decision to join Hugo Chavez's
Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), many sectors
in Dominican society are concerned about the long-term
consequences of this agreement. The decision to halt
progress on the oil refinery is the first sign that Prime
Minister Roosevelt Skerrit seems to value domestic public
opinion over Chavez's. END SUMMARY.

2. (U) Consistent in conversations PolOff had with students,
members of the business sector, tourism investors, and other
members of society is a concern of what ALBA is and what it
means for Dominica. Fears include ALBA negatively impacting
foreign direct investment and income from tourism dollars.
Others worry that the USG will tighten visa policy against
Dominicans in retaliation of ALBA. Some worry there is truth
in Chavez's claims that ALBA is an anti-U.S. military
alliance. Generally, the populace mostly wants a statement
from Skerrit explaining what ALBA is and why Dominica joined.

3. (SBU) In private conversations, GOCD representatives
explained to PolOff that ALBA is not a military alliance, but
simply a trade and development strategy (reftel). These same
representatives claimed that Skerrit will release a statement
any day now and include a copy of the signed agreement with
the statement.

4. (U) Those concerned with ALBA also tend to disagree with
the ALBA-funded oil refinery that Chavez has promised
Dominica. They see the USD 80 million refinery as a glaring
eyesore in Dominica's marketing as the Nature Isle of the
Caribbean. Even if the refinery could be made
environmentally sound, various members of the investment and
tourism communities protested that the existence of the
refinery is against the spirit of the Nature Isle plan and
will put off potential tourists and investors.

5. (SBU) COMMENT: Skerrit remains a charismatic and likeable
politician. However, ALBA has eroded his strong popularity
among the populace. Recent actions from the PM's office hint
that he recognizes this. Immediately following the January
25 ALBA conference in Venezuela, Skerrit met with private
sector representatives to explain ALBA and his reasons for
joining. On February 12, he announced that Dominica would
put its ALBA-sponsored oil refinery on hold. These actions
support the idea that Skerrit is a pragmatist concerned with
the economic growth of Dominica. Although sizeable foreign
assistance from Chavez speaks loudly, the concerns of his
electorate, particularly within the private sector, may speak
louder.
OURISMAN

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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