Cablegate: Brazil-Venezuela: Demarche to Mre On Referendum,

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.



E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/06/2014

REF: STATE 168747

Classified By: Political Counselor Dennis Hearne. Reasons: 1.4

1. (C) Summary, Foreign Ministry (MRE) Andean Division Chief
Rubem Barbosa disagreed with reftel demarche's assertions
about GOV manipulation and harassment in the run-up to the 15
August referendum, saying the MRE has received no such
reports from the OAS observer mission or its embassy. He
said the close-call nature of the coming vote seemed to be
creating a strange calm in which neither side wants to be
accused of disruptive actions. Brazil is heavily invested in
the multilateral effort on the referendum and has ample
reasons on the national level to fear instability in
Venezuela, but the GOB is not making contingency plans for
bilateral engagement in the event of a crisis. In related
developments, Lula's PT Worker's Party announced on 5 August
that the PT will send a delegation to Caracas to support the
referendum and Chavez, but party president Jose Genoino
stressed that support for Chavez is a PT position, not GOB
policy. End summary.


2. (C) On 5 August PolCouns demarched Minister Rubem Barbosa,
Andean Division Chief at the MRE, providing reftel points and
stressing USG concerns about harassment incidents and GOV
efforts to manipulate the judiciary in the run-up to the 15
August referendum.

3. (C) Barbosa said the MRE is in daily contact with the OAS
observer mission in Venezuela, which is headed by Brazil's
OAS Permrep. In that context Barbosa disagreed with reftel
assertions about manipulation and harassment incidents,
saying the MRE has received no such specific reports. While
noting critically Chavez's recent "bombastic remarks" about
the USG, Barbosa said the observer mission and Brazil's
embassy in Caracas are reporting a pre-referendum situation
that is "quiet, almost too quiet." Elaborating, Barbosa
explained that the GOB had anticipated more friction, but
that the "too close to call" nature of the coming vote, as
indicated by polls and experts, seemed to be creating a
strange calm in which neither side wants to be accused of
blatant actions that could undercut their standing with
voters and the international community. A sudden spike
indicating advantage for one side or the other could shatter
the calm, Barbosa added.

4. (C) As chair of the OAS Friends and with one of its senior
diplomats heading the observer mission, Brazil is invested in
-- and has its prestige associated with -- multilateral
efforts to assure a peaceful and transparent referendum,
Barbosa said. Moreover, instability in neighboring Venezuela
obviously would be a grave matter for Brazil across the
board. "For us, the stakes are incredibly high," Barbosa
said, and there is profound concern within the MRE as 15
August nears. However, when poloff asked whether the GOB is
currently gaming out contingency plans for bilateral
political engagement in the event of an unfolding crisis, or
considering its options for "day after" scenarios, Barbosa
acknowledged that no such planning is underway. Barbosa said
the GOB does plan to send a high-level envoy -- possibly MRE
Under Secretary for South American Affairs Macedo Soares --
to Caracas shortly after the referendum, to underscore to
"the winner, whoever it is" that Brazil wants to work with
Venezuela to assure a stable way forward.


5. (C) Jose Genoino, national president of Lula's PT Worker's
Party, announced on 5 August that the PT will send a
delegation to Caracas for a meeting with Chavez on 11 August,
as a gesture of the PT's support for the referendum process
and the continuation of Chavez in office. Genoino repeatedly
stressed that the support for Chavez is a party position, and
does not reflect the official GOB position of neutrality.

6. (C) Comment. We cannot assess the accuracy of Barbosa's
assertions that international observers are not reporting
misdeeds, or that there is a fragile calm pervading
Venezuela. What we can say is that it is ever clearer that,
while the GOB has impressively invested influence and
credibility into the multilateral efforts on Venezuela, it
does not currently appear prepared to take a meaningful
bilateral role if there is an unfolding crisis after 15
August. On the national policy level, it appears to us that
the GOB leadership has resolved to quietly cross its fingers
and wait, perhaps expecting a Chavez win and hoping for some
form of uneasy peace in the aftermath. But hope is not a
strategy, and it is worrying that the GOB apparently is not
prepared for decisive engagement if there is a
post-referendum meltdown, despite the political, economic and
security issues at stake for Brazil. The PT's wandering off
to Caracas to embrace Chavez at this sensitive juncture,
despite strenuous GOB efforts over the past several months to
maintain a posture of objectivity, could further raise
anxiety levels within the MRE and presidency as the GOB looks
ahead to 15 August. We will continue to engage with the MRE
on Venezuela over the next several days, and will seek an
appointment asap with Under Secretary for South American
Affairs Macedo Soares.


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