Search

 

Cablegate: President Venetiaan's State of the Republic -- Old and New

VZCZCXRO6475
RR RUEHGR
DE RUEHPO #0436/01 2891807
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 151807Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY PARAMARIBO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0424
INFO RUCNCOM/EC CARICOM COLLECTIVE
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 1684
RUEHTC/AMEMBASSY THE HAGUE 1662
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PARAMARIBO 000436

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR WHA - JROSHOLT

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL NS

SUBJECT: PRESIDENT VENETIAAN'S STATE OF THE REPUBLIC -- OLD AND NEW
PLANS

1. (U) Summary. President Venetiaan's September 29 State of the
Republic speech made clear that he and his coalition government are
finally moving into pre-election mode. In the lead-up to the 2010
elections, Venetiaan focused on the government's plans for
development of the interior, and for implementing infrastructure,
housing, and school projects. Most of the plans mentioned, however,
were not new but plans that had been previously announced during his
administration. While his 2007 speech focused on specific examples
of bilateral cooperation, this year Venetiaan stressed multilateral
cooperation -- and neglected to make specific mention of even China
or Cuba as partners. As usual, Venetiaan made no direct reference
to Suriname's partnership with the United States, although the
President did, characteristically, indulge in a passing remark about
the current financial crisis, in what used to be the most powerful
country on earth. End Summary.

--------------------------------
MULTILATERAL COOPERATION:
NO MENTION OF CHINA OR THE U.S
--------------------------------

2. (U) On September 29, President Ronald Venetiaan held his annual,
constitutionally required State of the Republic speech at the
Parliament. Like last year, Venetiaan mentioned the global crises
faced by small countries like Suriname, including natural disasters,
food and energy crises, and war. Characteristically, the President
also indulged in a passing swipe at the United States, referring to
the current financial crisis, in what used to be the most powerful
country on earth. (Note: This was the only allusion he made to the
United States. End Note.) Venetiaan said his administration's
policies and Suriname's flexibility spared Suriname from being
strongly affected by these crises, but we need to stay vigilant.
Unlike in previous years, when Venetiaan focused heavily on
bilateral cooperation, during this year's speech he focused more on
development based on cooperation with Suriname's multilateral
partners, specifically referencing the United Nations, the
Inter-American Development Bank, the European Union, and CARICOM.
While it is customary for President Venetiaan to avoid mentioning
support provided by the United States in his speeches, it was
noticeable that he also did not refer to Suriname's partnerships
with China and Cuba, as he had in 2007.

-----------------
AMBITIOUS PLANS
-----------------

3. (U) The President's speech seemed crafted to make clear that his
administration is taking citizens' concerns seriously. With the
2005 inclusion of the A-Combination Party in the New Front plus
coalition government, the administration is under increased
political pressure from the Maroon parties and their constituencies
to pay attention to the country's interior. In apparent response,
Venetiaan mentioned ambitious plans for the interior, such as
economic stimulation projects, infrastructure projects in the
interior, land rights for Maroons and indigenous peoples, and the
building and renovating of schools and boarding schools. He also
mentioned scheduled road rehabilitation/building along the coastal
strip, in both the districts and inwards into the interior.

4. (U) Since the start of the current administration in 2005, there
has been much controversy and public dissatisfaction regarding the
government's land and housing policies. Making big pre-campaign
promises, Venetiaan re-announced and went into detailed explanation
of government plans to execute an electronic system of land
management, build 900 low cost homes in various districts before the
end of 2009, and continue to expand the current low cost housing
programs. Venetiaan spent several minutes referencing the
government's renewed focus on youth, the country's Youth Parliament,
and sports. Suriname holds the portfolio for Culture, Gender, Youth
and Sport within the CARICOM, and Venetiaan had been criticized
after his 2007 speech for not mentioning either the Youth Parliament
or policies on youth issues.

-----------------
MIXED REACTIONS
-----------------

5. (U) Reactions to the speech were mixed. Radjkoemar Randjietsingh,
Secretary of the United Reform Party (VHP, coalition member party
headed by Vice-President Ramdien Sardjoe), praised the government's
prudent monetary policies and claimed the government's 2009 plans
clearly show its long term planning vision. The political opposition
characterized the speech as nothing new and said it provided no
answer to the developmental challenges Suriname is facing. Sham
Binda, Chairman of the Association for Small and Medium-Sized

PARAMARIBO 00000436 002 OF 002


Enterprises, noted the absence of government plans for Public Sector
Reform, the lack of policies to stimulate the production sector, and
the lack of a policy to mitigate the effects of the rising gas
prices on local production.

6. (U) Comment. With general elections only 18 months away and the
current low approval ratings for the Venetiaan government, it was
very important for the President to use his 2008 State of the
Republic speech to start making re-election campaign promises. So
he seized the opportunity to announce the government's plans for
housing, land, and education, and to address other issues which have
been bottlenecked over the past five years. There is nothing new,
however, about the announced plans, as most had been previously
announced by his administration. It is now more important than ever
for the government to actually deliver on these promises, as Desi
Bouterse's opposition National Democratic Party (NDP) and its
Mammoth Coalition continue to ramp up for the 2010 elections by
making promises, staging rallies, throwing parties, and continually
accusing Venetiaan's administration of inaction. Faced with such an
aggressive opponent, the President will do well to deliver on the
promises he made on September 29. End Comment.

SCHREIBER HUGHES

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Werewolf: Gordon Campbell On North Korea, Neo-Nazism, And Milo

With a bit of luck the planet won’t be devastated by nuclear war in the next few days. US President Donald Trump will have begun to fixate on some other way to gratify his self-esteem – maybe by invading Venezuela or starting a war with Iran. More>>

Victory Declared: New Stabilisation Funding From NZ As Mosul Is Retaken

New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Current US Moves Against North Korea

If Martians visited early last week, they’d probably be scratching their heads as to why North Korea was being treated as a potential trigger for global conflict... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Corbyn’s Campaign

Leaving partisan politics aside – and ignoring Jeremy Corbyn’s sensational election campaign for a moment – it has to be said that Britain is now really up shit creek... More>>

ALSO:

Another US Court: Fourth Circuit Rules Muslim Ban Discriminatory

ACLU: Step by step, point by point, the court laid out what has been clear from the start: The president promised to ban Muslims from the United States, and his executive orders are an attempt to do just that. More>>

ALSO: