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Cablegate: Chavez Obscures Miami Verdict, Foreign Minister

VZCZCXRO4596
OO RUEHAG RUEHDF RUEHIK RUEHLZ RUEHROV
DE RUEHCV #1537 3111229
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 061229Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY CARACAS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2087
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHWH/WESTERN HEMISPHERIC AFFAIRS DIPL POSTS PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUMIAAA/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL PRIORITY

UNCLAS CARACAS 001537

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

SOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD
DEPARTMENT PASS TO USAID/OTI RPORTER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV VE
SUBJECT: CHAVEZ OBSCURES MIAMI VERDICT, FOREIGN MINISTER
DENOUNCES IT

1. (SBU) President Hugo Chavez took over the airwaves in an
obligatory national "cadena" broadcast on November 3,
squashing early news reports of Franklin Duran's guilt in the
Miami "suitcase" trial. Venezuelan law requires free-to-air
broadcasters to carry presidential "cadena" broadcasts in
their entirety, and Chavez has used this tool frequently to
stump for his United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV)
candidates and to vilify the opposition. However,
yesterday's speech was a mundane recitation of the benefits
of socialism, evils of capitalism and the models of new
socialist men and women. By the time Chavez had finished his
three-hour "lesson" to a group of San Cristobal students,
most of the TV audience had probably tuned out and local news
cycles that would have covered the verdict were thrown off
kilter.

2. (SBU) Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro held a November 4
press conference in which he called the convicted Venezuelans
"political kidnap victims" of the United States and dismissed
the case as "a fabrication of the FBI and USG on behalf of
Bush." Maduro claimed that the GBRV had requested the
extradition of "that criminal" Antonini and the other
Venezuelans to face trial for "betraying the homeland and
giving false testimony." Note: Post has received no GBRV
extradition requests for Antonini or other Venezuelans to
appear. End Note.
CAULFIELD

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