Cablegate: Embassy Strategic Communications Plan -
P 262019Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY CARACAS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0853
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
INFO RUEHWH/WESTERN HEMISPHERIC AFFAIRS DIPL POSTS PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUMIAAA/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 CARACAS 000420
USSOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD
DEPT PASS TO AID/OTI RPORTER
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/18/2018
TAGS: PGOV PREL VE
SUBJECT: EMBASSY STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS PLAN --
COUNTERING CHAVEZ' ANTI-AMERICANISM
Classified By: CLASSIFIED CONFIDENTIAL BY ACTING DCM
ROBERT RICHARD DOWNES FOR REASON 1.4 (d).
1. (U) This is an action request - see paragraph 12.
2. (C) Summary: Embassy Caracas requests DOD support in the
execution of its strategic communications plan. The goal for
this program is to influence the information environment
within Venezuela. The strategy's goal is to counter the
active and deliberate campaign by the Bolivarian Republic of
Venezuela (BRV) to instill in the population a negative
perception of the US. and distort more than 100 years of
close and mutually beneficial relations between our two
countries. Regrettably, the BRV has had some success. From a
pre-Chavez level of over 65% approval, today the positive
image of the US has fallen to a historic low of 31% in
Venezuela. DOD support would greatly enhance existing
Embassy Public Diplomacy and pro-democracy activities. End
3. (C) Venezuela at the Crossroads: Venezuela once ranked
with Colombia and the Central American countries as being
most favorably disposed to the United States. However,
attitudes towards America have deteriorated after several
years of daily, well-funded BRV attacks against the USG.
4. (C) Recent Developments: Embassy Caracas has developed a
comprehensive strategic communications plan that incorporates
various agencies within the mission. The Narcotic Affairs
Section (NAS) has implemented a successful baseball clinic
bringing former Venezuelan players and managers from the US
major leagues to work with the youth in various Venezuelan
cities as part of a narcotics demand reduction program. In
addition, the Public Affairs Office targets the
hard-to-penetrate youth and low-income sectors, programming
Embassy leadership visits to all regions of Venezuela to
interact with Venezuelan society, business, and civilian
organizations. All of these programs have had an impact on
Venezuelan perceptions towards the US within targeted
sectors. Lack of resources limits our ability to reach a much
larger population base.
5. (C) Objectives: The strategic communications plan focuses
on three key objectives; strengthening Venezuelan-US
friendship, informing Venezuelans of enduring ties with
America, and countering anti-US influence and activity. The
US government needs to remind the Venezuelan people of its
historic friendship ("We have been with you since Simon
Bolivar") through continuous engagement, either with goodwill
activities or offers of US assistance for emergency
situations. We should also develop a message to enhance
Venezuelan understanding of its natural partnership with the
US through our long history of mutual support, strong
commercial and agricultural ties, and the cultural and people
to people links--large numbers of Venezuelan immigrants live
in US ("We have been allies since the 1800s"). Finally, this
strategic communications program must demonstrate commitment
and support to the shared values and aspirations of the
Venezuelan and American people regardless of Chavez'
hostility or harsh rhetoric in order to counter anti-US
influence and activity ("Both our nations stand for freedom,
democracy, and prosperity.").
6. (U) Themes: This program will center principally on three
The United States and Venezuela share common interests;
--- Strong commercial and human ties.
--- Both of our peoples respect and value civil and
Regional problems require the cooperation of all neighbors;
--- Drug trafficking affects all countries and can
only be effectively addressed through regional cooperation.
--- Organized crime, international gangs, and
trafficking in persons affect every society and are strongly
correlated to peace and stability.
Long historical and cultural ties;
--- Wars for independence.
--- Support to Venezuela against European
intervention in the late 1800s.
--- Large number of Venezuelan-American citizens.
7. (C) Standards: Three continuous threads will be woven
throughout this proposed program. First, the absolute
veracity of the information will be assured prior to any
program being publicized or aired. This standard will be in
direct contrast to the misinformation, broken promises, and
exaggerations of the Chavez administration. The second is a
commitment to sending only positive messages about people.
Negative messages tend to become associated with the sender.
The third standard is to refrain from any attacks against the
BRV or Chavez that would provide a pretext for Chavez to
rally Venezuelans against "the empire."
8. (C) Concept of Operations: The Embassy would like to
begin operations May 2008 and continue through April 2009. If
the program is determined to be successful through attitude
polling metrics, then the Embassy will seek funding for a
second year. The first phase would consist of information
gathering - surveying the environment to determine attitudes
and opinions about the US, drugs, and corruption, and other
areas in Venezuela that affect people in their everyday
9. (C) Based on these findings, in the second phase we would
implement a campaign using newspaper ads, billboards, radio
and TV spots. Embassy Caracas would focus their resources on
key population areas of Venezuela and states outside the
Caracas metropolitan area. Follow-on phases would include
rock concerts, sporting events, and musical festivals. The
final phase would converge on Caracas and concentrate on
sending the message of our continued support to the
10. (C) The Embassy will evaluate the effectiveness of the
program through feedback surveys. In order to gauge the
program's long term effects a survey team will return to the
target area between 90 and 120 days after the execution of
the program. That will give time to the target audience to
"digest" our message and show indications that they are
either accepting or rejecting our message.
11. (C) Operational Timeline for the Strategic Communications
10-25 May - 1st Phase (Site Survey)
1 June-30 August-2nd Phase (centered on outlying states)
1 September-25 December 2nd Phase (Sporting events and
1 Jan 2009-30 April 2009-3rd Phase (Caracas focused)
12. (C) Action Request - Embassy requests support from
Department of Defense in the execution of its Strategic
Communications Plan. The embassy would like resources
available by Mid-May 2008.
13. (SBU) US Embassy-Caracas points of contact:
PAS:Benjamin Ziff, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, phone
MILGP:COL Gettings, email: email@example.com,
phone number: 011-58-212-907-8695.
POL:Robert Downes, email firstname.lastname@example.org. phone number