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Cablegate: Uruguayan Ambassador to Venezuela Is Unusually

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMN #0275 1301637
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 091637Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8194
INFO RUCNMER/MERCOSUR COLLECTIVE
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 0553
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

UNCLAS MONTEVIDEO 000275

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL ECON AR VE UY
SUBJECT: URUGUAYAN AMBASSADOR TO VENEZUELA IS UNUSUALLY
CRITICAL OF CHAVEZ IN REMARKS TO VISITING LEGISLATORS

1. (U) On May 8, reputed Uruguayan business weekly
"Busqueda" reported on remarks, unusually critical of
President Chavez, made by Uruguay's Ambassador to
Venezuela Geronimo Cardozo to a group of visiting
Uruguayan legislators during a gathering at his residence.
The group, in Caracas for a session of the Latin American
Parliament (Parlatino), was composed of three legislators
from the ruling Frente Amplio (FA), generally friendly to
Chavez, and three from the opposition Blanco Party,
generally critical of the Venezuelan President.

2. (U) According to the legislators named and quoted by
Busqueda, Cardozo stated that Chavez's economic policy was
a disaster, and that Venezuela is "enduring a critical
situation" which "no one knows how it will all end".
Cardozo complained about difficulties in implementing the
business deals struck between Caracas and Montevideo, due
to the "brutal corruption" in the Government of Venezuela
(GOV). He complained that GOV officials had misled him in
a recent deal for the sale of Uruguayan software, where
the GOV had favored Argentine providers at the last
minute.

3. (U) Cardozo also stated that Telesur, the television
channel consortium championed by Chavez, of which Uruguay
is a member, is an "enemy of Uruguay." He noted that
Telesur had broadcast Chavez's anti-U.S. rally in Buenos
Aires during President Bush's visit to Uruguay last year,
and had referred to Uruguayan President Vazquez on this
occasion as a traitor ("vende patria" in Spanish). He
suggested that the GOU should just pull out of Telesur
altogether. Cardozo's wife was also quoted as complaining
about the extensive food shortages in Caracas.

4. (U) While the Blanco legislators who attended the
gathering were obviously pleased with Cardozo's open and
candid remarks, FA legislators were shocked. Still, a
legislator from the MPP, the largest faction within the
FA, told Busqueda that Cardozo's depiction of Chavez did
not surprise him, although he personally had not attended
the gathering in Caracas. This MPP legislator remarked
that "some FA comrades thought that Chavez had the same
skills and talents as Fidel (Castro). But Chavez is
nothing more than an oil hose (una manguera de petroleo)."

5. (U) Cardozo tried to walk his comments back in a
subsequent article published May 9 in the leftist daily,
"La Republica." Cardozo said his comments were taken out
of context from a private meeting with the legislators.
He insisted that he maintains the confidence of the
Venezuelan President and the "Busqueda" article was
"simply trash and lacked ethics." A second article in
Ultimas Noticias reported that legislators involved had
confirmed the statements but characterized the meeting as
private briefing by an Ambassador which should not have
been made public.

COMMENT
-------
6. (SBU) Comment: Cardozo's comments are surprising,
coming from someone who was thought of as having a good
relationship with Chavez. There have been persistent
rumors over the past couple of years that Cardozo was
involved in shady business deals with the GOV. It is
quite possible that one of these deals went sour (Cardozo
was rumored to stand to make a significant personal gain
out of the software deal), and he decided to "spill the
beans" in retaliation.

BAXTER

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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